Thanks to Arnel, my beta, who does a great job keeping up with me!
-- -- -- --
Late July 2001
Land Rover finally touched down just near the Burrow and Ron put it in
drive gear. It bounced down the dirt road and finally ground to a halt
in a cloud of dust, just outside the shed.
"Harry, wake up, we're back."
"Huh?" Harry groaned and sat up. Parchment and a permanently inked quill fell to the floor. He gathered up the pieces.
"You fell asleep over Iceland. What are you working on anyway?"
"Paperwork," Harry lied easily.
How I was just thinking I was wondering
stared at the parchment for hours, and that was all he could come up
with. No wonder he'd fallen asleep. He stumbled out of the car.
"You don't look so good mate."
"I just woke up!" Harry complained.
on, Mum will have breakfast waiting, and we can crash here for a few
hours before heading back to headquarters. I'll Floo the office and
check in, let them know we're back."
"Okay." They made their
way to door, tired, numb legs making them stagger as if intoxicated.
Ron let himself in and nearly ran over the person on the other side.
"What are you doing here?" Ginny asked.
"Harry and I just got back from America, a couple days early."
"Harry's here?" Ginny asked softy, craning her neck to see around Ron.
"Hi, Ginny," Harry said, stepping out from behind Ron.
"Hey, Harry," she replied, not quite meeting his eyes.
"How you've been?" he asked.
You're early! Come on in!" Mrs. Weasley appeared in hall. "Breakfast is
almost ready; I'll put on some extra bacon. Hermione is still upstairs,
While Ron had been away, Mrs. Weasley had insisted
Hermione stay at the Burrow. The pregnancy had not been easy on
Hermione and the thought of staying alone in Hogsmeade was not
pleasant, so she had readily agreed, especially this close to delivery.
Ron grinned, and disappeared off up the stairs to see his wife. Harry
shook his head in amusement at his best mate and followed Ginny and
Mrs. Weasley into the kitchen. "Is there anything I can do to help?" he
"No, you just sit yourself down and relax Harry. I'm
sure it's been a long flight," Mrs. Weasley scolded. "Sending Ron off
to America like that, when they know full right well what Hermione's
going through…" Mrs. Weasley continued to mutter under her breath.
Harry grinned, while he wondered if she's sent a Howler to Auror
headquarters. He wasn't paying attention to where he was walking and
bumped into Ginny. His parchments went scattering to the floor again.
"I'm sorry Harry!" she exclaimed and bent down to help him pick it up.
fault," Harry told her, as he lowered himself to the floor as well. Or,
at least, he attempted to. His knees weren't working quite right yet,
and Harry put a quick hand out to the floor to balance himself, in
order to prevent from landing in an ungraceful lump.
meanwhile, was trying to put his parchments back in order. Suddenly,
she froze in place, unable to lift her eyes from the piece she held. He
saw she had the letter he had begun, or rather, attempted to begin, to
her. She fingered it slowly, now staring up at him, before handing it
back, her eyes wordlessly searching his. Finally, she turned her
attention to the next sheet. Her eyes widened. "Harry!" she shrieked.
20 July 2001
Dear Minister Weasley,
is difficult for me, because I know my work is important. But now that
the war is over, things have changed in my life. I cannot see a future
for myself as an Auror. I think its time I pursue other career options,
perhaps take some time to see what kind of future I actually have. I've
done nothing but chase the darkness since I was a very young. The time
has come to get some light back into my life before the dark overwhelms
me. Strangely enough, it was your son who finally talked sense into me,
so if anything, you can blame Ron for this.
Sir, I regretfully submit my resignation from the Department of Aurors, effective two weeks from today, 2 August 2001.
"Harry! You're resigning?" Ginny was shocked.
Mrs. Weasley spun around. "Harry?"
Harry nodded, slipping the letter out of Ginny's fingers and putting it back with his paperwork.
need some time," he said uncomfortably. "I'm not sure what I'm
doing with myself anymore. I did what I needed for the war. I need some
time to sort some things through." Harry settled himself into a chair
at the kitchen table.
Ginny was regarding him curiously as she slid into a chair across from him, but there was a glimmer of hope in her brown eyes. Merlin, they're pretty…wait, where did that come from? Harry asked himself. I must be more tired than I thought.
"Does Ron know?" Ginny asked.
"Does Ron know what?" Ron asked, entering the kitchen accompanied by a sleepy looking Hermione.
he knows," Harry answered, ignoring Ron. "He talked me into it, while
we were in America, and he helped me with the letter on the flight
home. Did you Floo the office?" Harry directed his question at Ron.
"Oh, your resignation. Yeah, I knew about that. And yes, I did Floo in. Kingsley wants you to stop by his office around three."
"Resignation?" Hermione blurted. "What did I miss?"
"I'm resigning from the Ministry, Hermione. I need some time off."
looked at Harry for a long moment before declaring, "Good." Harry's
eyes widened in shock. He hadn't expected her to be pleased. "It's
about time you let someone else save the world for once. It's killing
you. You look ten years older than when we finished Hogwarts."
Considering that was only three years ago, that's saying a lot, Harry thought.
"So what will you do?" Ginny asked.
don't know," Harry replied. "I'm submitting my two week notice now, but
I was already scheduled to use up my vacation days, so it's likely I'll
just finish the paper work on this case and be done. Ron's transfer is
supposed to be coming through this week anyway, so I'd rather leave
before they make me break in a new partner."
Ron nodded. They'd been through all of this already, discussing it as they had crossed Long Island Sound and the Gulf of Maine.
"You should do some travelling, Harry," Hermione suggested.
laughed. "I've done enough of that lately. No, I think I'll just relax
for a change. I'll probably drop by here and do some flying out back,
since I don't have any place to fly. Maybe I'll practice some
Quidditch. Ron thinks I should try out for the Cannons."
Ginny snorted. "He would. Try out for the Wasps. At least they've won in the past 100 years."
Ron glared at her.
chuckled. "I don't know what I'm going to do yet. I just want to take
some time to be me." Breakfast was ready a moment after that, and soon
he and Ron were busily shoving food in their faces. Ginny ate more
sedately and Hermione looked green.
"You all right, love?" Ron asked between bites, looking concerned.
"Still having trouble keeping down food," she replied, picking at some dry toast.
Mrs. Weasley nodded sympathetically. "Bill was like that, Hermione dear. Thankfully, the rest weren't."
was silent through the rest of the meal, watching, taking it all in.
Ginny kept shooting him looks when she thought he wasn't looking. He
found himself thinking about what Ron had said in America. She still fancies you mate. She's been waiting for you to make the first move, since her sixth year.
help with the clean up, Mrs. Weasley," Harry offered, as he usually
did. He regretted it a moment later when his tired leg almost gave way
as he tried to stand up. Sitting down, he'd forgotten how tired he
"You're very sweet Harry, but you look dead on
your feet. Go on up to Percy's old room and take a nap. You're in no
shape to Apparate, you'll splinch yourself," Mrs. Weasley ordered, as
she began to clear the table. "Ginny and I will take care of the
Hermione and Ron had already disappeared up the
stairs, Hermione looking a bit green, and Ron, who had been driving and
unable to sleep at all last night, looking like he was about to pass
"Are you going to be around later, Ginny?" Harry asked.
Ginny turned in surprise. "Well, I don't have anything planned for today, if that's what you mean."
I was thinking that maybe we could…." was as far as Harry got before he
was interrupted by the arrival of several owls at the window, bearing
official looking letters. Mrs. Weasley hurried to take them.
"There's one for each you and Ron," she said, handing Harry his, "and one for the entire Weasley family."
Harry ripped into his as Mrs. Weasley opened the one addressed to the family. Harry scanned the brief lines.
Wizengamot Court of Justice
20 July 2001
the Auror of record, and the one of the arresting officers, you are
hereby notified that prisoner Draco Malfoy, (War Case #3214) will be
sentenced for his crimes by the Wizengamot Court of Justice tomorrow
(21 July 2001), at eleven am. He has been found guilty on the following
Homicide (2 counts)
Use of an Unforgivable Curse (3 counts)
Attempted Murder (4 counts)
Conspiracy to Overthrow the Government (2 counts)
Accessory to Homicide (6 counts)
Treason (1 count)
If you wish you are invited to present a statement to the court suggesting sentence.
Clerk of the Court
Harry had followed Draco's trial with a detached interest, receiving the Daily Prophet a
day late while he was in America. The fact that he was guilty was never
in doubt, and the verdict was no surprise when it came back early the
"I suppose I should go," Harry sighed, tossing
the letter on the table. Ginny was with Mrs. Weasley, reading over he
shoulder. The letter had come to the Weasley's because they were
technically victims in Draco's case. Although no one had ever
determined who had fired the curse that killed Percy, Draco had been in the crowd surrounding him, and one of the charges for Accessory was for Percy's murder.
not," Mrs. Weasley declared. "I'm sure the court will do the right
thing. I don't want to have the whole story dragged through the paper
again," she said. Harry suspected it had more to do with not awakening
emotions that she herself had not fully dealt with.
sighed, and looked at his watch. "Will someone come make sure I'm
awake at half past one? I want to take a shower before I go in to see
Mrs. Weasley nodded, surreptitiously wiping her eyes and suppressing a sniff. "Of course Harry."
Harry trudged up stairs, and checked his watch again. Four and a half hours of sleep, that should at least help, he
thought, setting his glasses on the nightstand next to the bed. He
flopped down on his back, and stared at the ceiling until it faded from
-- -- -- --
Mrs. Weasley shook Harry gently on
the shoulder at half past one. Groggy, Harry groaned his thanks, and
shuffled off to the bathroom to shower, sleepily passing by Ginny, who
watched his heavy-footed progress with amusement. A cold shower did
much to clear his head, and by two o'clock Harry was feeling much
better. He entered the kitchen to find Mrs. Weasley and Ginny arguing.
"I don't want to say anything, Mum. I just think one of us should be there," Ginny was saying as he walked in.
don't think you should, Ginny. There'll be dozens of reporters there,
and they won't let you alone. Remember what happened the last time?
Such an embarrassment for your father." Mrs. Weasley referred to the
time a reporter from Witch Weekly had made a rather rude
suggestion about Ginny's love life, and then immediately suffered from
an acute case of the Bat Bogey Hex. The incident was in the papers for
three full days.
"Mrs. Weasley, if Ginny wants to go, it's
fine. I'll be there. I'll make sure she doesn't hex any reporters."
Harry grinned. "Nothing like the 'I'm-the-guy-who-killed-Voldemort
stare' to scare them off."
Ginny giggled and Mrs. Weasley sighed. "All right, Harry. That's fine. Just make sure she doesn't lose her temper."
"Ginny? Lose her temper? Perish the thought," Harry chuckled.
"Watch it, Potter, or you'll find yourself with a bad case of Bats yourself."
no need to roll out the heavy weapons," Harry protested, putting his
hands up in a position of mock surrender. "After all Gin, you are the
epitome of composure."
"And don't you forget it."
Harry continued. "I thought, since the hearing is at eleven, that maybe
you and I could get some lunch afterwards. Catch up on old times; tell
me what you've been up to. That is," he added quickly, "if you don't
have any other plans."
Ginny paused, and Harry noticed that
Mrs. Weasley seemed like she was trying to act busy but was doing so
quietly so she could hear Ginny's response.
"Sure, Harry, I
don't have anything particular planed, just a little bit of this, a
little bit of that. Nothing that can't wait." Ginny had gone to work at
a private primary school for wizard children after leaving Hogwarts,
and had a long summer holiday. Ginny had her own place now, which was
why Harry and Ron had been so surprised to see her at the Burrow. "It
will be nice to catch up," she said, eyeing him curiously
"Good then," Harry said. He looked at his
watch. "Well, I'll see you tomorrow then, Gin," he said. "I'm off to
see Kingsley, then your Dad."
"See you tomorrow, Harry," Ginny said, smiling.
"Stop by again soon," Mrs. Weasley said.
"You know it, Mrs. Weasley."
closed his eyes and in a blink, Apparated to the Ministry of Magic
atrium. It was not crowded this time of day, and Harry took a quick
look around. The new fountain they had put in after the battle at the
Department of Mysteries always made him feel very self-conscious.
Dedicated to lives lost in both wars against Voldemort, busts of some
of the more notable people involved in the Dark Lord's downfall stood
on pedestals surrounding the fountain. It was always strange to look
back into his own face. Shaking his head, Harry turned toward the
ministry entrance and the elevator.
"Mr. Potter!" Harry groaned as a reporter from the Daily Prophet appeared.
"Go away." He kept on walking.
"Can you tell us anything on Dark activity in America, Mr. Potter?"
"Where is your partner?"
"What are you doing here this afternoon, Mr. Potter?"
strode past the gate, and the reporter turned grumpily away, as members
of the press weren't allowed past the gate except during special
events. He heard a familiar voice. "Still dodging the press, eh, Harry?"
"You know it, Seamus."
worked in the Department of Magical Games and Sports, as an official in
the Quidditch League of Great Britain and Ireland. "Nasty buggers, some
"Some of them are all right though."
"True, but they're not the ones following you around."
"How's Lavender?" Harry asked.
just fine…." Harry and Seamus exchanged talk about the Quidditch league
as the elevator rose. Seamus got off at his floor, and Harry rode
on, up to Auror headquarters.
"Hey Kingsley," Harry said, passing Shacklebot on his way to his desk.
"Hey Harry," the older man replied. "How was America?"
We chased around some wannabe Death Eaters who had started up what
basically amounts to a "Voldemort Fan Club". Rebellious teenagers
mainly. The Federal Bureau of Magic could have handled it without us.
We were only there because one of them was English. We just observed."
Kingsley nodded. That wasn't all that uncommon. "Kingsley, you got a
They stepped into Harry's
cubicle. Each Auror's cubicle had a silencing spell around it, so that
they could work, or meet in privacy.
"What's up Harry?" Shacklebot asked.
not sure how to say this, Kingsley, but…I'm not sure this is where I
want to be anymore. I'm not…I'm not happy anymore." Harry paused,
thinking how stupid that sounded. He also found himself thinking, was I ever happy?
"I know," Kingsley said simply.
known for a while. You don't enjoy the work. Certainly not like Ron
does, or I do. You're tired of fighting." Harry nodded. He wondered how
many people had seen it before him. I must be truly dense…and Hermione talks about Ron! "So when is it effective?" Kingsley asked.
"Your resignation, when is it effective?"
"Two weeks," Harry admitted sheepishly. "Ron helped me write it."
nice to have a best mate who looks after you," Kingsley smiled. "We'll
miss you, Harry, but it's what's best for you." Kingsley pondered a
moment. "So, you'll be taking your vacation time, right up till your
"Right. I'm going to run my letter up to the Minister, and then clean out my desk."
"Well, we're sorry to see you go. Good luck with everything Harry."
Kingsley. Will you do me a favour and tell Tonks for me in your next
communiqué? I don't want her to find out through the grapevine." Tonks
was on long-term Auror exchange program to the Japanese Ministry of
Magic because she was able to make herself blend in and she was fluent
in the language. She was in a deep cover assignment, and not receiving
"Sure thing, Harry, take care now."
"Don't be a stranger."
and Harry left the cubicle. Harry got back on the elevator and rode up
one more floor to Minister Weasley's office. Harry strode in to the
outer office and waited for the secretary to acknowledge him.
Minister's in a meeting, Harry," Penelope Clearwater-Weasley replied,
"But it won't be long, I'll let him know you're here when he's free."
"Thanks Penelope, how's little Arthur these days?"
"Driving me mad with worry! He's pulling himself up on everything, but pulling the world down on himself."
grinned. Before Percy had died, he and Penelope had married. Little
Arthur was born only two months after Percy died. It was hard on
Penelope at first, but both her own family and the Weasleys had helped
her get through it. Now she worked as Mr. Weasley's personal secretary.
waited patiently and eventually, several deputy ministers appeared
through the doorway, leaving. Penelope stuck her head in and a turned
to him moment later. "You can go on in, Harry."
Harry went in to Mr. Weasley's office. He was standing up and smiling. "Harry! How was America? Good to see you again."
"Good to see you again, too, Minister. America was boring."
"What can I do for you today, Harry?"
"I'm here to drop off a letter for you."
"Oh?" Harry handed him the parchment, and Mr. Weasley scanned it.
Mr. Weasley began, but he stopped, giving a heavy sigh. "Well, I guess
I can't blame you. I'm sorry to see you go, Harry. You were a good
Auror, perhaps the best. But I understand why you need to do this.
Maybe when you've got your life straightened around, you'll find it's
what you want to do. As long as I'm Minister, there'll always be a
place for you here."
"I appreciate that, Mr. Weasley. We'll see. Thank you for your understanding."
Weasley put a hand on his shoulder. "You're like family anyway, Harry.
I can see that this is what's best for you. Good luck," he said,
shaking Harry's hand.
"Thank you, Mr. Weasley." Mr. Weasley
nodded, and Harry turned to go. As he left he could hear Mr. Weasley
calling for Penelope about his schedule. He took the elevator back down
one floor, and set to work cleaning out his cubicle. He didn't have
much, just a few pictures. There was one of Ron and Hermione on their
wedding day and another with the wedding party. Harry lingered over the
picture of the Order of the Phoenix taken shortly before the last
battle. The picture Snape glared across the picture at Harry, Ron and
Hermione. Harry sighed. He wished he had the opportunity to sort things
out with Snape; he really had done a most dangerous job and done it
well. It just hadn't made any sense to carry the grudge for so long.
But now he was gone, and Harry would never have that opportunity.
Charlie and Percy smiled in the picture, blissfully unaware of their
Harry shrugged and placed the picture in the
box he was packing. He wasn't going to get away from the darkness if he
dwelled on it. There was a time and place to mourn, and it was well
past. He finished packing his box, small as it was, and put a shrinking
spell on it, and slipped it in his pocket. The cubby looked agreeably
empty. When Ron's transfer came through, he would get an actually
office, with space to work in. The cubicles were mainly for field
agents who needed a place to do paperwork.
He was unemployed
for the first time in his life. He didn't have a task laid out ahead of
him. He felt a thrill of freedom like he'd never had before. For the
first time, he didn't know what the future would bring. The future –
what a strange word. Harry had spent half his adolescence thinking he
didn't have one. Now he had one, and he didn't have any idea of what he
was going to do with it. He found himself wishing Sirius, or even
Dumbledore, was around to talk to. While I'm wishing for them, I may as well wish for my dad too, Harry thought, with a half smile. Wishing for things that couldn't be wouldn't get him anywhere. At
least I still have one person I can talk to…I should be thankful for
the things I do have, and not wish for the things I can't. He smirked to himself. Step one of the multi-step plan of recovery for Harry Potter: Stop trying to wish the dead back to life.
left the floor, taking the elevator down a level to the Department of
Magical Education. He strode through the office door, and headed
straight for the Department Head's office.
When Arthur Weasley
had become Minister of Magic, he had been instrumental in liberalizing
the ministry. Muggle protection laws had become stronger, as well as
Muggle cooperation. One of Minister Weasley's other major
accomplishments was to change the definition and status of those who
were infected with lycanthropy.
"Harry!" Remus Lupin said
from behind his desk. Remus was leaning back in his chair, busily
throwing darts at a board on the opposite wall. A picture of Delores
Umbridge was tacked on the dartboard. Harry shook his head.
Remus," Harry said, dropping into a chair. For a time, Harry had been
uncomfortable calling him anything but Professor Lupin, but after
Sirius's death, Remus had insisted upon Uncle Remus, and after some
time, developed a close enough relationship that he felt comfortable
calling him Remus.
"What's new, how was America?" Remus asked.
"It was fine. Listen, uh, Remus…"
"I resigned from the Ministry," Harry blurted out.
The dart aimed at Umbridge flew wide and imbedded itself in the wall. The photo Umbridge breathed a sigh of relief.
"You what?" Remus exclaimed. "Harry, is everything all right?"
it is," Harry began. He was beginning to think that maybe he'd finally
managed to marshal his thoughts on the subject. Remus would sort him
out and help him fill in the blanks if he didn't have it quite all
together yet. Remus was good like that. "Ron told me I was unhappy,
that I spent too much time dwelling in the darkness. He said I didn't
think I had a future. I thought about it, and realized he was right. I
need to go find a future."
Remus paused, thinking, running a hand through his graying hair. He leaned back in his swivel chair. "Ron's right."
thought so, which is why I resigned," Harry said. "Trouble now is, I
can't figure out what that future is. I've got one, now I don't know
what to do with it."
Remus laughed "Well look on the bright
side, Harry. If you want to take some time to go and 'find yourself',
you at have the financial wherewithal to do it."
along with Remus. The money his parents left behind was considerable,
more than even Harry had realized for quite some time, and the fortune
only grew with interest every year. Fred and George had insisted on
making him a silent partner in the joke shop, which was now turning a
profit. And on top of that, Sirius had left the entire Black estate to
Harry and Remus. The fortune in Galleons alone dwarfed the Potter
fortune, and they had discovered a half-dozen properties scattered
across Great Britain. They'd sold most of the property, including
Grimmauld Place. The former headquarters was sold to the Ministry after
the war for use as a museum. The only property they had kept was termed
as a "hunting lodge" in the legal documents, but was actually a small
house. Remus lived there, on massive tract of land, some distance from
Hogsmeade and actually bordering the Forbidden Forrest on the opposite
side from Hogwarts.
The fortune they had divided meant that
neither Harry nor Remus actually needed to work a day in their lives.
But Remus wasn't about to turn down the opportunity to do something
he'd fought his whole life for. And now, as Head of the Department of
Magical Education, he was doing a damn good job.
"So what do you want to do?" Remus asked.
"I was hoping you would have some suggestions," Harry offered, with a wry grin.
Harry, you've never struck me as the rich playboy type, or the
eccentric beach bum, so you'll probably want to find some kind of
employment," Remus said with a smirk. "I think you'd get bored rather
quickly, don't you think?" he said, raising an eyebrow. "You were never
very good in potions, otherwise I'd suggest going to work with Fred and
George and cooking up new jokes and tricks."
Harry laughed at this suggestion. "I can hear McGonagall screaming from here about wasted potential."
go out for professional Quidditch," Remus pointed out. "There'd be a
hundred teams trying to get you to play for them, from England to
America and beyond." Harry nodded.
"I know. Ron suggested that too. But that seems very selfish," Harry replied.
"Isn't this whole thing about having earned the right to be selfish?" Remus asked rhetorically.
Again, Harry laughed. "Well, I suppose in that sense, you're right. I just wish I had some sense of how to be selfish."
if you were at all selfish, the Sorting Hat would have put you in
Slytherin. What you need to find is something you enjoy, and also
fulfils this need in you to do something useful." Remus looked
thoughtful for a moment, and then glanced at his watch. "Almost dinner
time. You up for the Leaky Cauldron, Harry?"
for a moment. "No, I should really head back to my flat," he said. "The
mail's probably piled up a mile high, and I probably need to clean out
my refrigerator if I want any food at all."
Remus laughed. "Ah, the joy of being a bachelor."
"Something like that," Harry said, smirking as he rose to leave. "Anyway, I'll come by sometime this week and we'll play chess."
"You know where to find me, Harry."
-- -- -- --
on that evening, Harry had made only marginal progress in straightening
out his flat. He had made only a dent in his mail, and after tossing a
few things out of the fridge, discovered he only had enough Muggle
money to pick up milk and bread. At least he could have toast in the
morning before the hearing. He almost fell asleep on his couch, but
managed to make it to his bed before he passed out. He slept so
soundly, he didn't even dream.