Chapter 10: Taking Stock of the Pieces

Midmorning found a sleepy eyed Harry sitting at the Weasley kitchen table with his head bent over the Daily Prophet. His hand held a cup of tea. An empty bowl, with a spoon resting in it, was a short distance away on the table. In the center of the table was a box of cereal, a teakettle and another place setting.

Death Eaters Elude Capture!

The Auror department continues to work relentlessly on the capture of known death eaters and you-know-who's followers. Progress is slow and unfavorable public opinion is placing additional pressure on acting Minister of Magic Kingsley Shacklebolt for swift action. Any information as to the whereabouts of the following individuals should be reported immediately to ...

Harry yawned.

"Didn't sleep too well last night?" said Molly as she eyed him while holding a stack of clean clothes.

He looked at her. "No, I woke up a few times. Reckon I'm still unwinding from everything that's happened."

"Well, it will take some time," said Molly consolingly. "Perhaps a bit of a kip later will help."

She patted him on the shoulder as she passed and then headed toward the staircase. His gaze returned to the paper.

Where is Harry Potter?

As reported previously by the Daily Prophet, the defeat of you-know-who by Harry Potter has ushered in a new beginning for the wizarding world. Since that day at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, Harry Potter has not been seen. Questioned repeatedly, acting Minister of Magic Kingsley Shacklebolt will give no additional information citing the need for security in the ongoing Auror department investigations. Rumor has it that Mister Potter is being treated for grave injuries at an undisclosed location. Other rumors suggest he has left the country. Unconfirmed sightings of him in Melbourne Australia have been reported. The Daily Prophet will continue to ...

"Good morning Ginny dear," said Molly from the stairs.

Harry watched Ginny sleepily enter the kitchen and sit down across the table from him. She was wearing pajamas and her normally brushed hair was still out of place.

She took hold of the kettle and poured a cup of tea. "I must look frightful."

"Not to me," said Harry with a smile. "Your mum's tea will help."

She ran her fingers through her hair brushing it to the side. "I sure wish the nightmares would stop." Then pulling a bowl toward her, she filled it with cereal and milk and began eating.

Later, sipping tea, their eyes slowly began to brighten. They heard an owl screech and a moment later, Pigwidgeon sailed through the open kitchen window and landed on the table in front of Ginny.

"Pigwidgeon. Welcome home." Harry watched as she put out her hand and the owl jumped onto it. "Come over here and have some owl treats."

She carried the owl to the perch next to the window. Pigwidgeon stepped from her hand hooting happily. Ginny carefully untied the letter, listening and nodding to the owl as he continued to hoot at her.

"I'm glad you had a safe trip. Now you rest for a while."

Ginny sat down at the table and unfolded the letter. A bright expression dawned on her face. She looked at Harry.

"It's a reply to the owl I sent Professor McGonagall asking if I could help mend the Quidditch pitch. She says yes and wants me to come see her as soon as possible. Oh Harry, can we go to Hogwarts today?"

"Yes, we can. Did she mention anything about the security wards?"

"She says to use the floo connection from the Burrow, it's still open for us. She also wrote the word Daisy."

"That must be the password to enter her office." He thought for a moment. "I should send Kingsley an owl and set up a meeting. Do you think Pigwidgeon has rested enough for another job?"

Pigwidgeon hooted, flew over, and landed on his shoulder. Ginny smiled. "Yes, I think so."

He quickly wrote a short letter and attached it to the impatient owl.

"It goes to Kingsley Shacklebolt, acting Minister of Magic." With a dignified hoot, the owl took flight and zoomed out through the open kitchen window. They watched for a moment as he quickly disappeared into the sky.

"I'll go and make myself presentable," said Ginny. "Then we can go."

Harry rubbed the stubble on his chin. "I'd better do the same." They both stood and headed for the stairs.

A short while later, they paused by the Weasley kitchen fireplace. Ginny turned toward the kitchen table where Molly was seated reading a recipe book. She had a careworn expression on her face.

"We're leaving for Hogwarts Mum. Will you be okay here without us for a while?"

"Yes, Andra will be stopping by later for tea. You and Harry have a nice time."

"We'll send you a message if we're going to be late."

"Thank you Ginny."

Harry and Ginny joined hands and tossed floo powder into the fireplace. As green flames erupted, they stepped forward saying, "Hogwarts!" and vanished an instant later.

Harry and Ginny stepped into a deserted Hogwarts meeting room. After a brief glance at each other, they moved to the door of the room. Harry pulled the door open and she stepped into the hall ahead of him. Compared to the last time they had seen it, the hallway was now mostly clear of debris.

They began walking toward the headmistress office. The familiar stone statues and suits of armor once again stood proudly in their places along the corridor. Shafts of outside light filtered in brightly through clean and unbroken windows. The familiar stone gargoyle guarding the entrance to the headmistress office came into view and they stopped in front of it.

Looking at the gargoyle Ginny said, "We're here to see Headmistress McGonagall."



The gargoyle nodded and moved aside revealing the circular stone staircase. They stepped onto the staircase and it began to carry them upward. Reaching the top landing, she was about to knock on the door when it gently swung open. They saw McGonagall seated behind the claw-footed desk.

McGonagall stood and moved from behind the desk. "Welcome. Please come in and be seated." At these words, two chairs appeared in front of the desk. They stepped into the office and the door swung closed behind them.

Harry glanced around as they made their way toward the chairs. He saw some unfamiliar items on the tables and cabinets. But for the most part, the office contents were unchanged. The sorting hat rested on top of a bookcase and the Sword of Gryffindor was in its glass case. Glancing up at the portrait of Dumbledore, the old headmaster gave him a smile and a wink.

After seating themselves McGonagall said, "I was so pleased to receive your letter Miss Weasley." With a smile she said, "Your owl was quiet insistent on its prompt delivery to me."

"Pigwidgeon is very energetic and dependable," smiled Ginny.

"I quiet agree. It is most gratifying to receive letters such as yours volunteering help and support. So much is needed to rebuild Hogwarts and ready the school for the next term."

Ginny said, "I want to complete my seventh year studies and I think house Quidditch will help everyone move past the dreadful things that happened."

"I'd also like to help," said Harry. "Hogwarts is like a home and I want to see it right again."

"The Ministry is arranging the heavy reconstruction work under Kingsley's direction. What is needed at this time is a thorough assessment of damages so that the needed materials and skilled laborers can be obtained."

McGonagall looked at Ginny. "You will be the official Hogwarts overseer for the Quidditch pitch. Periodically check with the construction foreman to ensure that the work is being completed to your satisfaction. The foreman and crew will be made aware of your authority in this area. Contact me directly if you have any questions or require additional guidance."

With a look of happy shock Ginny said, "Wow, I didn't expect to be put in charge."

"You are quite suited to the task," said McGonagall with a knowing nod. "I will send other volunteers wishing to help mend the pitch to you. Please assign daily tasks and provide the necessary direction."

"I'll make sure it's done properly. We'll be playing Quidditch at Hogwarts again."

McGonagall reached into the desk and withdrew a notepad and quill. She handed them to Ginny. "This is a quick quotes quill for your assessment efforts. We can meet later when you have finished and go over your observations and concerns. In addition to the pitch, please record any other damages you might see in the surrounding areas. Do either of you have any questions for me at this time?"

Ginny thought for a moment. The realization of the responsibility McGonagall had entrusted to her began to set in. A few butterflies fluttered inside her. "No questions now but I'm sure I will have some later."

Harry looked at McGonagall. "Professor, I have a question about Hogwarts. Madam Pomfrey gave us a potion that made us sleep. Can you say more about it?"

"The Elixir of Novum Vitae is very ancient. Legend credits it to the four Hogwarts founders. The elixir induces a deep sleep in the recipient and a magical connection forms with the castle."

Ginny looked at Harry with a delighted expression. "That's what I saw just before you woke, dancing lights between you and the castle walls. It was amazing."

McGonagall said, "While the recipient sleeps, the castle strengthens itself by drawing out much of the injury, sorrow, and horrific memories of the battle. These are replaced by comfort and healing. Your fortitude, courage, and bravery become a permanent part of the castle. It is used to rebuild, strengthen and defend Hogwarts for future generations."

"Is this how the castle is mending itself?" said Harry.

"Yes. This magic is like a mending charm but is far more powerful, owning to the combined essence of past and present defenders. This magic is a closely guarded secret. Each of you is now a part of this secret by your free choice to stay and defend Hogwarts during one of its darkest hours."

They sat in silence for a moment as McGonagall's words settled in.

Ginny looked at Harry. "We'd best get started on the assessment."

"You're the boss," said Harry with a grin. She smiled and they all stood.

"Lunch will be available in the first floor conference room should you wish to partake of it." McGonagall's eyes softened. "In all sincerity to each of you, if there is anything I can do for you, please don't hesitate to ask."

Harry and Ginny made their way toward the great oak doors of the castle. They briefly peeked into the Great Hall. It was deserted; illuminated only by the light coming in through the windows. The enchanted ceiling was gone revealing the immense rafters and trusses supporting the high-pitched roof. Many of the tables still lay broken in pieces on the flagstone floor.

As he surveyed the room, ghostly images of the hurt and grieving people came to mind. His gaze lingered on the spot where he had dueled Voldemort for the final time.

She stood beside him staring blankly at the spot where Fred's body had lain. After a moment, and with a heavy sighs, they walked hand in hand out onto the grounds toward the Quidditch pitch.

The sight of the damaged Quidditch pitch was much worse than what either of them had expected. Ginny took out the notepad and held it in her hand. Floating above the notepad, the quill moved and wrote, Entrance damage extensive, needs complete rebuild.

They carefully picked their way through the debris and stepped onto the playing field. Only one of the south end goal posts was still standing. They began to walk toward the east side of the field noting torn up turf and large stone boulders in many places. Much of the seating in this area lay in broken and splintered pieces on the ground. Some of the seating was only black charred remains. The quill moved very quickly jotting down the damage they were seeing. As they reached midway along the east side, they both gasped. The team room was completely flattened and its roof lay in multiple pieces on the ground.

"Do you think anyone was in there when it came down?" said Ginny in a worried voice.

"Dunno. Do you want me to levitate you up so you can see better?"

Apprehensive about what might be seen she said, "Yes, I'd best have a look."

Harry took hold of his wand and pointed it at her. "Wingardium Leviosa!" She slowly began to rise into the air. Twisting his wand, her position gently shifted, looking as though she was sitting on an invisible chair.

Now floating fifteen feet in the air she said, "I see a large hole, move me forward. ... Okay, now lower and a bit to the right. ... That's good, now down slowly."

She dropped out of his sight and he concentrated on the imaginary place where he held her safe.

"Okay, stop here."

A few moments later she called out, "Okay, you can take me up and bring me back."

He pointed his wand slowly upward and she became visible again. She rose up into the air and began to float toward him. He could see the quill madly writing on the notepad. He began to lower her and then a mischievous smile came to his face. Her downward progress halted and she hovered about five feet in the air in front of him.

She smiled. "You can put me down now."

"But you look so attractive floating there." He twisted his wrist and she tilted as if leaning back in a chair.

"Eek!" She reached out trying to grab hold of something. "Harry, if you know what's good for you, you'd better put me down."

In a teasing voice he said, "What's the magic word?"

"Bat-bogey if you're not careful," she said in a tone of warning.

"Now what kind of a thank you for helping is that?"

A smile of understanding dawned on her face. "I see. Well, I'm a bit too far away to properly thank you."

He moved and stood beneath her. The charm broke and she let out an "Eek!" as she dropped a short distance into his arms. Her arms wrapped around his neck and shoulder.

"Is this close enough?"

"Why yes, it is." ... The quill wrote on the notepad. After a moment, he carefully put her down on her feet.

She looked at the notepad and giggled. Then she read aloud, "Harry and Ginny enjoy a brief osculation; each fancies the other."

He smiled broadly.

"Remove last note, that's private," said Ginny. The line vanished. She said, "Everything in that team room is smashed; team lockers, broom locker, planning board. It will all need replacing. Thankfully, I didn't see anything dead."

They continued walking. The north end of the pitch was undamaged and the three goal posts were still standing securely. The west side was also undamaged and they entered the team room. They each heard a muffled rattle and without hesitation, drew out their wands. With a heightened sense of awareness, they stepped quietly forward as scratching sounds were heard. Without warning, there was the sound of flapping wings and a large black bird flew down from the rafters above them. They each gasped and jumped back in fright as a raven swooped past them and out through the doorway, cawing as it disappeared from sight.

Their alarm subsiding, they looked at each other and chuckled with feelings of relief and embarrassment. He was about to speak when they heard more rustling and their smiles faded. It was clear now that the sound was coming from behind the door of the storage room.

"Homenum Revelio!" said Harry barely above a whisper. There was no response to the spell. He stared blankly for a moment. Then in a whisper he said, "Move quietly and stand on the other side of the door. Open the door when I nod to you. Then crouch down so you can see to defend us. Don't light your wand until we know who's in there."

She nodded and silently moved to the far side of the door. Harry moved to the near side. "Lumos!" he said in a whisper and then he nodded to Ginny. As she pulled the door open, he put his wand into the open doorway and quickly looked inside. She dropped down on one knee and pointed her wand into the room. By the light of Harry's wand, they saw three unevenly stacked Quidditch trunks in the far corner of the room with brooms and field grooming tools leaning against them. Two raccoons looked at them briefly, their eyes reflecting wand light in the dark room. Then one raccoon moved quickly behind the trunks and the other disappeared down a small hole in the floorboards.

"Lumos!" said Ginny. Her wand lit and she carefully stepped forward toward the trunks. Harry followed close beside her. Holding their wands aloft, they carefully peeked behind the trunks. The raccoon growled and shifted position trying to shield two much smaller raccoons from the light.

Ginny cooed softly, "Aww ... you're so cute. Not to worry, we'll leave you be." As they backed quietly away she said, "They can't be more than a week or two old."

They took a quick look around the room. Then they moved out and gently closed the door.

"They were born during the battle?" said Harry.

"Yeah, I think so."

They checked the lockers and storage cupboards in the team room. Most of the Quidditch related things were present including practice uniforms, brooms, and protective body pads. When Ginny was satisfied that her notes were complete, she turned to leave.

"Ginny, let's use brooms. It'll be easier."

"Brilliant." She started to lean towards him but caught sight of the quick quotes quill hovering over the notepad. The feather curved forward in eager attentiveness ready to write.

She looked back at Harry and smiled. "Remind me to thank you later."

"Definitely." He took two brooms from the locker and handed one to her. They went back outside the team room, mounted the brooms, and kicked off. Flying low and slow over the entire pitch, they noted the damages. They saw large stone boulders among the ruins of the pitch and thought that giants had likely thrown them during the battle. From the higher vantage point, the field damage seemed to indicate that the enemy forces had fought their way up the east side slope causing the defenders to retreat up toward the castle.

A long while later, they hovered low above the center of the pitch as she reread and checked her notes.

She looked at Harry. "I think we have it all."

"Those improvements you've added for the pitch and team rooms are really good."

"Do you think they'll be considered?"

"Yeah, I do."

"I hope your right." She pocketed the notepad and quill. "How about some lunch?"

"Yeah, race you to the castle."

"Twice thread the goal, last one there's a troll." She had barely spoken these words before darting away.

They zoomed toward the north goal posts. She passed between the center and right posts and turned hard left. He passed between the center and left posts and turned hard right. Passing each other with skilled precision, they both flew a figure eight path around the center and each end goal post. Completing the final turn and flying full out, they laid low on their brooms and raced back up the pitch side-by-side. Pulling upward in formation and skimming just above the treetops, they sped on toward the castle laughing and playfully doing barrel rolls around each other along the way. After some hide-and-seek amid the tall spires of the castle, they touched down in front of the great oak doors and went inside.

They walked into the small lunchroom and each got a sandwich and drink from the buffet table. As they turned to find a place to sit, they caught sight of Neville waving at them from the corner of the room. They made their way over to where he was eating his lunch.

"Harry, Ginny, it's good to see you. Please, sit down and join me."

"It's good to see you too Neville," said Ginny as she and Harry sat down.

"What brings you two to Hogwarts?"

"I sent an owl to Professor McGonagall asking if I could help put the Quidditch pitch back in order. I was so happy when she said yes."

"That's not the only thing she told you. Tell him the other part."

Ginny smiled meekly. "She made me the Hogwarts Quidditch pitch overseer."

"That's great Ginny! It's sure to be top notch with you in charge."

"Thanks. We've just come from looking it over. It's badly damaged and it's going to need a lot of work."

"You helping too Harry?"

"Yeah, the pitch looks dreadful. Ginny's got some great ideas to make it better than ever. What have you been doing?"

"I've been staying here at Hogwarts and helping Professor Sprout with the greenhouses. I've learned so much about herbology from her in that short time. Two of the greenhouses had minor damage and I've finished mending them. The others are damaged beyond repair and will need a complete rebuild. Professor Sprout asked me to travel with her to meet-up with other herbologists and get replacements for the destroyed plants and herbs."

"That's a fantastic opportunity," said Ginny. "I'm so happy for you."

"Yes, really excellent," said Harry.

With a somber expression Neville said, "Yeah, I'm looking forward to a bit of a change. It's been tough getting on with normal things again after all that's happened. I think about our friends and classmates who are hurt or not with us anymore. Luna and I spent hours just walking and talking about things. She has this ... free healing spirit about her, you know what I mean?"

Harry nodded and Ginny said, "Like an Empath."

"Yeah, someone who can see inside you and know what you need. She can take this ugly war and help you see new and greater possibilities that can grow from it. She keeps saying how much I've helped her but I think it's mostly the other way 'round."

"She speaks truthfully Neville. You helped me too. You pulled us all together and made the D.A. really mean something. You inspired and gave it vision and purpose."

"Thanks. But you and Luna formulated that vision and purpose too you know."

Harry said, "Neville, I want you to know, when you pulled the sword out of the sorting hat and killed Nagini, you made it possible for me to do what I had to do. I couldn't have done it without your help. Thanks. If there's ever anything I can do for you, don't hesitate to ask. I really mean that."

"Thanks, the same to you Harry, and you too Ginny. I hope we can all have some peace for a while."

Neville glanced across the room to see Professor Sprout standing just outside the door. She was holding a large potted plant and waving to him.

"Well, I gotta go. See you two around."

They all stood and both Ginny and Harry gave Neville a firm hug before he left to join Professor Sprout.

After lunch, Harry and Ginny flew back to the pitch to check on the surrounding areas. As a precaution, Harry used a disillusionment charm to hide their presence, though they could still see each other. They slowly circled the pitch just above the treetops moving further out with each circuit. Broken trees and branches were evident in many places but the damages became less and less as they moved further out. As they were completing the final circuit, the shrieking shack came into view.

They slowed to a hover. Pointing his wand at the shack, Harry said, "Homenum Revelio!"

"Nothing." He pocketed his wand. "We should have a closer look."

"What do you think might be in there?"

"Dunno. But Voldemort used the place as a command center during the battle. It's also where Snape gave me some of his memories just before he died."

A little apprehensive, she followed Harry as he flew down to a door that looked more like a picket fence. The door hung crooked and had many irregular gaps and openings in it.

Pushing the door open, he led her inside. It looked much the same as always with a thick layer of dust covering everything. Light from the outside shown in through the cracks and holes in the walls. There were many footprints on the floor and the few remaining pieces of furniture were broken and lay in pieces. The only sound they heard was the groaning of the floor under their feet as they slowly moved forward.

They reached the staircase that led up to the second floor. He looked up the stairs as memories came back to him. It was up there that he, Ron, and Hermione had first come face to face with Sirius Black and learned the truth about what Peter Pettigrew had done.

He took her hand and moved slowly toward the stairs leading down. They stopped and looked down into the darkness below. "Lumos!" said Harry and he looked at Ginny.

Taking out her wand she said, "Lumos!" Then with wands pointing the way ahead, they slowly descended the creaking stairs into the cool damp darkness below.

Reaching the bottom step, their wand light cast long eerie shadows that moved around the room revealing a dusty lopsided table, threadbare chair, and leaning bookcase. The walls were bare and in one corner of the room, the floor was stained with blood. He stepped onto the floor and moved toward that corner. Ginny, wide-eyed and looking about, followed him closely.

His wand light illuminated a small alcove filled with broken wooden crates. A cool puff of air swept past them as he pushed his wand into the darkness he knew was the secret passage.

She peered over his shoulder and saw only the passage descending into the darkness. "Where does it go?"

"It comes out at the base of the whomping willow. ... It doesn't look like there's anything down there." He pulled back his wand and turned to face Ginny. The light of his wand brought the edgy expression on her face into sharp relief and he thought for a moment.

"This is the spot where Snape died," he said quietly.

She glanced down at the floor. "It looks like it was very unpleasant for him."

"I want to try a spell I once heard him use."

She nodded. Pointing his wand toward the center of the room he said, "Reveal your secret."

They watched for a moment but nothing happened. He turned back to Ginny. "I thought that maybe ..."

From the darkness of the room came the sound of wood creaking. Then a thunderous crash occurred and he shouted, "Protego!" They pointed their wands toward the center of room and saw the air choked with dust. The bookcase lay in pieces on the floor and its meager contents were scattered everywhere.

With an arm around each other, their pulses racing and eyes wide, they strained to see.

"Lumos Maxima!" shouted Ginny and a ball of light flew from her wand and hovered in the center of the room near the ceiling.

There was no further movement and the dust began to settle toward the floor.

They cautiously stepped forward, their eyes carefully searching the floor. There were shards of broken objects and splintered wood. Their gaze fell on a book, small enough to fit in a pocket, lying face down on the floor. The tattered leather cover was well worn and the gilded edges of the pages only weakly reflected the light.

Warily she said, "Do you think it might be cursed?"

He pointed his wand at the book and closed his eyes in focused concentration.

"No. It doesn't feel like it's cursed."

"You know the feeling of a cursed object?"

He looked at her. "Yes, and I think you do to."

Her eyebrows narrowed and she thought for a moment. Then her eyes opened in realization. "The diary."

"Yeah. See what you think."

She pointed her wand at the book and her eyes squinted in concentration. "No, it doesn't feel the same. Actually, I don't feel anything from it at all."

He nodded and picked up the book. With Ginny leaning in close, he turned the book over. After exchanging a glance with her, he opened the book. The page was mostly blank with only a few words at the top.

After exchanging a glance with her, he opened the book. The page was mostly blank with only a few words at the top.

Apothegms for the Ages

I  Knowledge and understanding bring control.
    All things great and small are your teacher.

He turned the page.

II.  Knowledge of oneself is essential.
      Know the limits of your strengths and weaknesses.

The next page read,

III.  As is above, so is below. As is below, so is above.
      Our being is but a grain of sand in an all inclusive and infinite possibility.

"I wonder why the pages are mostly blank," said Harry.

"Maybe for notes?" suggested Ginny.

He flipped a few pages forward into the book. The page read,

VII.  The greatest power is love,
        and those with the courage to make use of it.

"There don't seem to be any notes."

"Maybe the notes are hidden." She touched the page with the tip of her wand. "Aparecium!"

A cloudy blur of gray began to form on the page. The gray shaped itself into writing that briefly twisted before coming into sharp focus. They saw layer upon layer of writing, penned in different styles and inks, appearing one on top of the other on the page. There was so much writing that the page was mostly black and only some of the words along the edges of the page were recognizable.

He looked intently at the page. "There must be hundreds of writings here. I wonder how you see them one at a time."

"I don't know. But can't wands be made to reveal previously cast spells?"

"Yes, brilliant Ginny." He touched his wand to the page. "Prior Conscribio!"

The jumble of words dissolved and only a single writing remained.

A spirit shines forth, my lost love in disguise, take solace my soul, and escort his mother's eyes.

He stared blankly at the page and reread the line many times. Memories entered into his mind of the many times he had not trusted or thought ill of him. He felt shame. If only he could have known, his guardian might still be alive.

She gently said, "Do you know who wrote this?"

He looked at her with glistening eyes. "Severus."

She looked at the words again. "He must have written it ages ago."

He looked again at the page. "I called him a coward. How could I have been so wrong?"

She put her hand on his arm. "He didn't exactly treat you, or anyone else for that matter, very nicely."

With a sorrowful expression Harry said, "He couldn't. The moment he made the choice to lead a double role for Dumbledore, his life was in jeopardy. He couldn't put his trust in anyone, especially the chosen one. How hard it must have been for him to always have to push others away."

She nodded. "This helps explain some of the rules he made as headmaster last year. He was looking out for us too."

After a brief moment, Harry closed the book and put it in his pocket. Taking her hand, he led her up the stairs. Back outside, they mounted their brooms and kicked off. Rising above the treetops, he looked toward the forbidden forest and caught sight of Hagrid in a small clearing.

"Let's go see Hagrid," said Harry pointing toward the clearing. "He's just over there."

They turned and flew toward the clearing. As they approached, Harry called out, "Hagrid!"

"Harry ... Ginny ... good ter see yea!" said Hagrid as they touched down and dismounted their brooms.

"It's good to see you too Hagrid," said Harry.

"Hagrid," said Ginny, "what are those? I've never seen them before."

Harry and Hagrid turned to see Ginny pointing toward three horse-like creatures with leathery bat-like wings.

"Yea, I'm right sorry yea see 'em now. They're Thestrals, part o' the herd that pulls the carriages at start o' term."

She gazed blankly at the Thestrals and quietly said, "Because of Fred's death?"

Harry moved beside her and took her hand. He gently said, "Yeah, or maybe when you led me away from Dumbledore's body that night. I reckon anyone who was in the Great Hall that morning will be able to see them now."

Seeing them hold hands, Hagrid smiled approvingly. "Move closer and 'ave a better look. They're very gentle creatures."

They stepped toward one of the Thestrals. Ginny reached out and stroked the back of its neck. "So you're what we rode to the Ministry. You look much different than I imagined."

Harry turned toward Hagrid. "How did the Thestrals fair in the battle?"

"Two were killed." Hagrid pointed with a grim expression. "Buried 'em just over there. These three 'ere watched me do it. They come most days and paw 'round the graves. Reckon they miss 'em."

She gently patted the Thestral in an unspoken understanding with them.

"Six others were injured. I've been tendin' to 'em and they'll pull through okay."

"What about the centaurs? Is Firenze okay?"

"Yea, most o' the herd's had a change of heart, convinced the elders to allow him back." Hagrid's expression became grave. "Death eaters and centaurs 'ad a big battle too. There were centaur casualties, both adults and foals."

"Oh no!" said Ginny with a horrified expression.

"Evil it was, what those death eaters did. Now there's division 'tween the centaurs who want ter work with the Ministry and those that don't. Those against talk 'bout the kill'ins and 'bout how badly they're treated by the Ministry. Those who want better relations talk 'bout how you defeated you-know-who and 'bout those who fought and died defendin' Hogwarts."

Hagrid rolled his eyes. "Now the elders are consult'n with the stars. Codswallop, they should be consult'n with Kingsley."

"I wish I knew better what to do," said Harry. "We need Hermione, she'd know."

"Where are Hermione and Ron?" said Hagrid. "They okay?"

"Yeah, they're more than okay," smiled Harry. "They're in Australia helping her parents move back to England. Hermione sent her parents there to keep them safe."

"That's our clever Hermione. How 'bout you two? What brings yea to Hogwarts?"

"Headmistress McGonagall has put me in charge of mending the Quidditch pitch. We've been checking on what will be needed."

"That's great. Folks need Quidditch to help 'em feel right again. You let me know if there's anythin' you need from me. Okay?"

"I will Hagrid. Umm ... Now that you mention it, there is something. We found a family of raccoons inside the west team room. Do you know a safe place where they can go? There are two young ones."

"Yeah, lots of places. I'll take care of that for yea. Consider it done."

"Oh thank you so much." She turned to Harry. "We should get back to the castle so I can give my report."

'Okay. We'll see you later Hagrid."

"Thanks fer stoppin' by. You two take care now."

They mounted their brooms and kicked off. They waved to Hagrid and then started toward the castle at a leisurely pace. They met with McGonagall and Ginny discussed their assessment of the Quidditch pitch. McGonagall was very pleased with the report and said she would pass along the information to Kingsley.

McGonagall said to Ginny, "I will send word to you once I know when rebuilding of the pitch will begin."

"Thank you headmistress. I'd like to meet with the construction foreman before they start work so I can better explain some of my comments."

"I think that can be arranged. I will make a special note to discuss your request with Kingsley."

It was about midafternoon when Harry and Ginny left McGonagall's office. They both felt tired from their day at Hogwarts and the lack of sound sleep the previous night. They stored the brooms in the broom cupboard of the meeting room. Then they stepped toward the fireplace to return to the Burrow.

"Mum we're back," called Ginny as they stepped into the kitchen. When there was no reply she said, "Let's rest for a while."

They made their way to the sofa in the parlor. Ginny asked about the memories that Snape had given to Harry and he told her about them. Soon they both became drowsy and, reclining comfortably, fell asleep.

A while later, Molly stepped from the yard into the kitchen. She had spent the afternoon with Andra Diggory at the Weasley picnic table. While placing the glasses she was carrying into the sink, a familiar presence caused her to turn her head toward the parlor door. Quietly moving to the door, she opened it slightly and peeked inside. She saw Harry lying on his back asleep on the sofa. Ginny was also asleep, lying between Harry and the back of the sofa. Her head was on his shoulder and her arm lay across his chest. A few thin wisps of silvery vapor floated and gently swirled around their heads.

Molly smiled warmly at the sight. "At long last, they have time for each other," she thought. A déjà vu memory of a much younger Molly and Arthur came to mind. Taking the hankie out of her pocket, she dabbed at each of her eyes and watched them sleep for a moment longer. Then she quietly closed the parlor door and began planning supper.

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: 10/05/17