Harry Potter - Series Fan Fiction ❯ Harry Potter and the Werewolf Prophecy ❯ THE AFTERMATH ( Chapter 3 )
Molly Weasley sat with her dead son’s head resting in her lap. Around her, in the shattered hall, the air was rent with screams and weeping. Molly didn’t make a sound.
Ron released Hermione’s hand and moved to sit with his family. Harry moved beside her and put an arm across her shoulder. She leaned against him, shivering.
Molly looked up and spoke. “We’ll bring him home, to The Burrow. With all my children.”
Harry and Hermione stepped back. Molly looked at them. “All my children, Harry. Hermione. Come here.”
Harry Potter stood looking at the garden from his bedroom window. He looked like an ordinary young man. He was below average height, had unruly thick black hair, and wore thick-lensed glasses. On his forehead was a zig-zag scar, which had faded slightly in recent months. His eyes bore the stress of many tragedies, great and small – but Harry Potter was happy today, in spite of his worries.
Harry Potter was no ordinary youth. He was a wizard, and had become one of the most famous wizards in their hidden world. He had defeated Voldemort, the dark lord, not once but at least three times. He had been seeker on his house Quidditch team at Hogwarts, a flyer good enough to be complimented by the great Victor Krum. He was now a trainee Auror, one of an elite team who fought evil wizards.
He was not in his old bedroom in Privet Drive. He’d never return there, he was sure of that. Not in the Gryffindor dormitory in Hogwarts, shared with Ron, Neville and Seamus. He had left Hogwarts in ruins, and did not expect to return there either. Not with Hermione and Ron in the tent, its location changing every night to escape pursuit from Death Eaters. He was back in the Burrow, the family home of the Weasleys.
The Burrow had always been a battered, ramshackle kind of place, but when it had been hastily abandoned by the Weasley family, it had become very run down. Arthur and Molly Weasley had left preservation spells to keep the place together, but it had been attacked and damaged by Death Eaters and their cronies. When the Weasleys returned, it was a pitiful sight. The Weasley family, helped by their many friends, had spent several months restoring and refurbishing. Their belongings had mostly been well hidden, but much had been lost forever.
Harry had worked as hard as the Weasleys themselves at restoring The Burrow, and many wizards had come to help, but there was still something missing – not in the fabric of the building, but in the spirit of its occupants. Bill, George and Arthur had all suffered terrible injuries. While the war against Voldemort was going on, they were able to put aside the damage that they had suffered, but now that normal life had returned, the trauma reasserted itself. Each was prone to sudden outbursts, long silences and withdrawal. Arthur sometimes seemed very old, and Bill, savaged by the werewolf Fenrir Greyback, sometimes seemed almost wolfish himself. There was also the breech with Percy Weasley, who had taken the wrong side, right up until the final battle. He’d returned, and apologised, but the quarrel had been deeply hurtful to the whole family.
None of this mattered, though, nearly as much as the death of Fred Weasley. He’d been George Weasley’s twin. They had been, as Wizard twins tended to be, completely identical, until George had lost an ear. Their own family often found it difficult to tell them apart. Sometimes Harry thought to himself that it was merciful that George had a visible sign to separate him from his brother. If Molly and Arthur Weasley hadn’t known which of their children had died, it might have been unbearable for them.
The Weasley family, normally so lively, so busy, were sad and quiet. When Harry had first stayed with the Weasleys, he’d found it difficult to keep up with the interactions of so many different people, each asserting his and her identity in a way quite unknown in the house on Privet Drive where Harry had spent his early childhood. The Dursleys were always stiffly polite to each other, except when Dudley had had a tantrum. His aunt and uncle stored up their grudges against each other until they had a pretext to take it out on Harry. Dudley didn’t wait for a pretext.
For a while, it had seemed to Harry as if the Weasleys hated each other. They fought incessantly, over trivial things and serious. After a while, Harry came to realise how much they all cared about and depended on each other, and decided that the quarrels weren’t real or serious. Then, a while later still, he had come to realise that the quarrels were genuine, that the anger was real, but that it went hand in hand with the love they all felt.
Harry had learned about families from the Weasleys. The tepid affection of his aunt and uncle for each other, and their desperate longing for the success of their mediocre, unpleasant son, was the only example that he’d had. The Weasleys showed him how families were meant to be.
There were no quarrels any more. Each of the family was trying hard to avoid upsetting the others. There was no teasing, few jokes.
Harry felt especially sorry for Percy. When he’d been at school, Percy had been pompous and pretentious, and his brothers had teased him unmercifully. Then Percy had gone to work at the Ministry of Magic, and had sided with the Minister against Harry, Professor Dumbledore and his own family. He had only reconciled at the very last. Percy and Fred were fighting side by side when Fred died.
Harry couldn’t remember a time when the family weren’t teasing Percy. Now it was completely different. They were all kind to him, and nobody mentioned the quarrel. Nobody was behaving naturally, and the kindness seemed to make them all more distant rather than closer. George seemed constantly on the verge of making fun of Percy, and Percy of reprimanding George, but it never quite happened.
What Harry found strangest was his relationship with Ginny. Ginny was Harry’s girlfriend, which Harry was finding wonderful, terrifying and frustrating. Ginny was always strong and supportive with her family. Though she was the youngest, she was always the one who kept people going. When there was a silence, she would start a conversation. When people didn’t know what to do, she’d suggest de-gnoming the garden or washing the dishes. She was the first to start talking about Fred, when everyone else avoided the subject. She made everyone keep to the normal patterns of their lives.
With Harry, it was different. She seemed to save up her misery and terror and sorrow for when they were together. Also her anger. Sometimes she seemed to turn on him for no reason, furious over trivialities. Harry was beginning to wonder if she was regretting their relationship, but unable to break it off.
He shook his head and got up. Time to talk about it, he thought. He’d seen his aunt and uncle’s marriage at close quarters for many years. Each of them would tiptoe around the other, until they seemed like two strangers in the same house. He wouldn’t let that happen to himself and Ginny. There was no point in hiding from their problems.
When he went downstairs he was surprised to see nobody in the kitchen but Ginny. He felt suddenly, absurdly shy.
She turned to him and beamed. “Harry! Didn’t lie in, then?”
He shook his head. “I can never sleep in on a day off. Has your dad gone?”
Ginny nodded. “He left early. He says that there seems to be more to do now than ever. He says he might need to interrogate Umbridge again just to find out just what she did when she was effectively running the place. He says she did more damage than Voldemort.”
Funny how more and more people felt able to say “Voldemort” now. “He who must not be named” was almost a quaint tradition, a piece of good manners. The fear was gone.
“And your mum?”
“She’s gone down to the village.”
“The Muggle village? Does she do that?” Harry sat down at the table.
“She used to go down every now and again. This is Devon, you know. They don’t notice wizards and witches here. The Muggles look strange enough.” Ginny moved around behind Harry. “She goes down more often now. She talks to the vicar. About everything that happened.”
“Can she do that?” said Harry, surprised. “Tell a Muggle about magic?”
Ginny leaned in to Harry and hugged him around his neck. Her red hair dangled in front of his eyes. “Oh, Harry, nothing important that happened has anything to do with magic. She just tells him about Fred dying, and Percy, and the rest of it. He doesn’t question it. I think he thinks we’re from central Europe.”
She hugged him tighter. “Harry – I’m sorry. I think I’ve been awful to you, these last months.”
“Awful? You’ve been wonderful! This has been the happiest… well, no, that sounds terrible. It’s been a sad time. But being with you, every day… that’s been wonderful.”
Ginny pressed her cheek against Harry’s. “I’m glad. Why would I want you to be sad? None of us want to be sad. It’s so hard sometimes. We’ve had a beating, this family. A hard beating. I’ve been taking it out on you.”
Harry reached up and took Ginny’s hands in his. “I thought you were getting tired of me. I thought you were getting to know what kind of person I was, and didn’t like it.”
Ginny laughed. “You can’t really have thought that, Harry. You’re the one I’ve been leaning on. You’ve been so strong.”
“Strong?” Harry started to shake his head, but couldn’t move in Ginny’s grip. “I’m not strong, not a bit. I wake up shaking some nights.”
Ginny squeezed tighter. “You don’t know how strong you are. Harry, you and Ron and Hermione left this house, three teenagers and you defeated Voldemort, and all his followers. You think you’re weak because you’re frightened – but you do it anyway.”
Harry smiled and peered up at Ginny. “Maybe I am a bit brave. I asked you out, didn’t I.”
“Did you? I can’t remember. I have a feeling that I made most of the running.”
Harry shook his head. “I was a bit hopeless.”
Ginny laughed. “You kept saving the world, and winning Quidditch matches, and never even noticed all the girls following you around.”
“Hey – I went out with Cho, didn’t I?”
Ginny shook her head. “Oh dear, Harry. The great Cho disaster. The whole school used to talk about that one in hushed voices.”
“Oh, come on? The whole school? I didn’t think anyone noticed… oh, hello, Ron.”
Ron Weasley stumbled into the kitchen yawning and stretching. He was wearing his pyjamas under a bright maroon dressing gown, and still looked half asleep. He mumbled an incoherent greeting.
Ginny turned and nodded. “Just as well, really. I was a bit worried about Cho. A good thing you made such a mess of it. Honestly, Harry, how did you do it? Even Ron ended up with a girlfriend.”
Ron sat down suddenly and put his head in his hands. He made a muffled noise.
“Ron? Are you all right?” said Ginny. “Oh, Ron, I’m sorry. I forgot. Poor Lavender.” She ran over to her brother and gave him a hug.
Ron wiped his sleeve across his eyes. “It’s all right. It’s just… I’d forgotten about her, you see. With everything else that happened.”
Harry sat down. “Yeah, I know. Still – she was in our class all the time we were at school. She was in Hermione’s dormitory. If nobody else had…” He fell silent.
“She used to annoy me,” said Ron, softly. “Then I fancied her. Then we went out, and she used to really annoy me. She joined Dumbledore’s Army. What was she doing in Dumbledore’s Army, Harry? She was hopeless.”
“Oh, come on,” said Harry. “She wasn’t that bad. She knew magic all right.”
“She knew divination,” said Ron. “Part of the Trelawney fan club. Defence against the Dark Arts, though – do you remember her trying to cast a Patronus?”
Harry winced. “I take your point. She never managed it. Never made much of a fist of anything.”
“She still stood up with the rest of us at the end, though,” said Ron. “Trying to fight… I don’t think she ever understood that there would be someone who’d actually try to kill her. It was never… real to her. You, now…” he turned to Ginny. “you were up for it right from the start, in the Department of Mysteries. Same with Hermione. Even Neville and Luna got it.”
“We should have sent her away,” said Harry, dully. “She never had a chance, did she?”
“She wouldn’t have let you,” said Ginny. “It was the end, one way or another. How could she have left us?”
“We could have made her,” said Harry. “But… there was no time.”
“I saw her,” said Ron. “I noticed her, trying to look tough, nearly crying. I might have said something, but I was worried about making Hermione jealous. Isn’t that silly?”
Ginny shook her head. “I wouldn’t let Harry go to the Ravenclaw common room with Cho. I could just imagine them…”
“I wouldn’t!” interjected Harry.
“Of course you wouldn’t – but we all thought we were going to die,” said Ginny.
“Eh? I didn’t,” said Ron, blankly.
“Well, you should have. Why didn’t you?” asked Ginny.
“Dunno. I got used to Harry doing something and it all being all right, I suppose. He did, and it was. Except for Fred, and Lavender, and the rest.” He suddenly banged the table. “I should have killed him. Fenrir. He was lying there, unconscious. I could have killed him then.”
Harry leaned forward. “Ron – we went through this with Dolohov. We can’t be like them. They were killers. We aren’t that.”
Ron shook his head. “Harry – you don’t get it. Dolohov, Malfoy, all those Death Eaters – they’re just people, gone wrong. They could even go right, if they wanted. Fenrir Greyback – he’s something else. He’s taken his animal part and his human part and made a monster. He’s a thing now.”
“Ron, you still can’t…” Ginny tried to speak but Ron carried on.
“Ever noticed how afraid they all were? Little Malfoy, big Malfoy? Snape? Even Bellatrix? They were all scared of big bad Voldemort. And he was scared of you, Harry. All driven by fear. All except the wolf. He didn’t care. He really didn’t. I fought him, Harry. It was all the same to him whether he killed me or I killed him. He just wanted to cause pain.”
They were silent. Harry wanted to argue, but couldn’t help remembering Fenrir asking for a piece of Hermione, as if she were a rare steak.
“Tell me I’m wrong, Harry. Tell me there’s any way the world is better because I didn’t cut his throat when I had the chance.”
“We could have killed Dolohov. If we’d done it, Lupin might be alive,” said Harry quietly.
“He killed my uncles, as well. He nearly killed Hermione. He’s still human, Harry. I’d gladly see him dead, but I’m glad we didn’t kill him. And he’s in Azkaban. Flitwick smashed him. He’s done. He won’t hurt anyone again.”
Harry nodded, but he couldn’t help thinking about the many wizards who had escaped from the supposedly secure prison.
“Me and Neville – we battered Fenrir. Us and Trelawney. He was crippled. Yet he still managed to crawl away. He was back fighting us again! He’s gone beyond a normal werewolf. He’s a bundle of filthy appetites. He’s out there somewhere, and if he’s out there, he’s killing still. I could have stopped it.”
Ginny placed her hand over Ron’s. “Ron – do you know where Mum is?”
“Eh?” Ron thought for a minute. “Talking to that Muggle vicar, I suppose.”
“Do you know why?”
“Why?” Ron gave a mirthless laugh. “There’s enough for her to talk about, I suppose. Fred died just over a year ago.”
Ginny shook her head. “Mum hasn’t gotten over Fred. That, and Bill, and George, and Dad. Her brothers. She leans on us for that, though. She goes to the vicar to talk about Bellatrix.”
“Bellatrix!” yelled Ron. “Why would Mum care about that evil cow Bellatrix bloody Lestrange!”
Ginny stood up and leaned over the table. “Because she killed her, Ron. She killed another person. Even if it’s the worst of the Death Eaters, as bad as Voldemort himself. She still killed a human being, and it’s shattered her.”
Harry stared at Ginny. “But… she had no choice. They were duelling, and Bellatrix would have killed her, and you, and…”
“Harry – I know. She knows. It doesn’t matter. It’s the heaviest burden she has. She’ll never be free of it. Would you want that, Ron?”
Ron sat silently for nearly a minute. “No. I wouldn’t. I’d still do it, though. Same as Mum did. If it wrecked me, then so be it. Harry had to take on his burdens. Why should I get off scot free?”
He turned to Harry with an intense stare. “Harry – you’re an Auror. You’re looking for him, aren’t you?”
Harry nodded. “I’m mostly training – but I’ve talked to people. He’s one of our main targets. He hasn’t been killing, though. We’d know, whether it was Wizards or Muggles. The way he does it…” Harry grimaced.
Ron looked at Ginny. “Mum’s torn up about killing Bellatrix? Well, I feel the same way about not killing Fenrir. When he kills again – and he will – I’ll feel like it’s my fault. I want him caught. Killed. Stopped forever.”
The three sat quietly. Harry reached out and squeezed Ginny’s hand. Harry was used to feeling damaged himself. The pain of losing his parents had been a part of him since he was a baby. He wasn’t used to his friends suffering in the same way.
They jumped suddenly at the sound of the back door opening. Molly Weasley walked in carrying a basket of groceries. Ginny rushed over and gave her a hug.
“Dear me, Ginny, what was that in aid of? Put these away please. Ron, aren’t you dressed yet? Good morning Harry, dear. Put the kettle on, will you?” As always, when Mrs Weasley walked into a room, there was instant bustle and activity.
Ron started towards the door but Mrs Weasley called him back. “If you aren’t dressed yet then you can wait another few minutes. Put the porridge on. I have fresh strawberries I bought from Mr Watkins.”
“Who’s Mr Watkins?” asked Ron.
“Dear me, Ron, he’s been farming half a mile away since before you were born. I don’t think you boys notice anything.” Mrs Weasley shook her head as she directed bowls, cups and spoons out of the dresser with a wave of her wand. “A day off, Harry dear?”
Harry nodded. “We had that training exercise on Brecon Beacons the weekend before last, and they gave days off in lieu.”
“Rufus Scrimgeour would never have done that. I think that Kingsley Shacklebolt has let things go soft,” said Mrs Weasley, deftly placing four settings at the table.
“I don’t know how he does both jobs,” mumbled Ron, standing at the stove.
“He has to, though,” said Ginny. “They’ve so much work to do and they don’t have the people. Alastor Moody could have done the job, if he’d…” Her voice tailed off.
“Ron, I do wish you’d let someone talk to Kingsley for you. Here, let me do that. You’d be a wonderful Auror, and I’m sure he would realise that if we just…”
“Mum!” interrupted Ron, as his mother removed the porridge pot from his grasp. “I told you. I put in the application, and if they want to give me the job, then great. If they don’t – I don’t want to get it because I can use influence. That’s… well, it feels like something the Malfoys would do.”
Harry started to speak but Ron continued. “Harry, I know you never asked for any special treatment either. You applied for the job, and that was it.”
“I’m not qualified though,” said Harry.
The three Weasleys snorted in unison. “For heaven’s sake, Harry. You defeated Voldemort in single combat. I think that’s more important than passing your NEWT’s,” said Ginny.
“That Neville Longbottom used all the influence his grandmother could put together,” said Mrs Weasley.
“Yeah, well, that’s Neville,” said Ron. “Anyway, his family have been Aurors for years. None of us have been, have they?”
“Well, no,” said Mrs Weasley slowly. “Although your father has been working in his department for…”
“Not the same, Mum. Different job,” said Ron.
“Well, it should count for something!” snapped Mrs Weasley. “The sacrifices that man has made! Sometimes I don’t see him from one end of the week to the other.”
She banged on the table, and a mug jumped off and shattered on the floor.
“Now look, Ron! Oh, for heaven’s sake. I’m going to get my slippers on. Clean up the mess.”
They stared after her as she stalked out of the kitchen. “We never used to break things,” said Ron, reflectively.
“That’s because Mum always used Arresto Momentum to catch them while they were falling,” said Ginny.
“Why doesn’t she use it now?” asked Ron.
“Don’t you know? That’s the final spell she used to stop Bellatrix’s heart. She can’t bear to use it any more. I used it a couple of weeks ago and she burst into tears and told me. Reparo.”
A few moments later Mrs Weasley returned to the kitchen in her slippers. She was smiling, but her eyes were slightly too bright.
“You made the tea, dear? Thank you. Sorry to keep going on at you, Ron, you know how I worry.” They sat down together.