Three days before the end of term, Harry Potter appeared with a soft pop in front of the gates to Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. When his feet touched the wet grass he stumbled and collapsed face first onto the ground. His robes were torn and bloody, he had scratches on his face and hands, and he was very pale. After a few moments, he raised his head and sat up slowly, leaning on the gates. The sun was just above the horizon; it had to be about eight in the morning. Harry smiled slightly as he thought of everyone filing sleepily into the Great Hall for breakfast.
"Kreacher," Harry called. Seconds later, two house-elves appeared in front of him.
"Master called," croaked one, scowling.
"Master Harry Potter sir, you is being ill!" exclaimed the other one in alarm as he rushed to Harry's side.
"It's all right Dobby. I'll be okay," Harry assured the elf. "I need you to get someone to come and let me in. Can you do that, please? I don't know how to get past the wards."
"But Master Harry Potter sir, you is being ill! Dobby should not leave you," the house-elf replied, glaring at Kreacher.
"All right then," sighed Harry. "Kreacher, you go." With another scowl, Kreacher disappeared. Dobby was still eyeing Harry, looking concerned.
"But where is Harry Potter's Wheezy? Where is the pretty witch? They is not being at Hogwarts. They is going with Harry Potter, Dobby was thinking."
"They've gone home for a little while, but I wanted to come here first. I'm okay, Dobby, really," Harry replied, a little exasperated. "I'm just tired. But I'd appreciate it if I didn't have to talk much right now, not until we get up to the school." The elf nodded and sat down next to him.
Several minutes later Harry heard footsteps approaching and the clicks of the locks being undone. He stood up just in time before the gates were flung open and he was face to face with Professor McGonagall. Harry smiled; McGonagall just gaped at him. Well, he supposed he couldn't blame her. He hadn't spoken to her since two days after Dumbledore's funeralů
Harry was staring into the fire in the Gryffindor common room. Tomorrow he'd leave Hogwarts for the last time. Needless to say he wasn't looking forward to it. Yet even Hogwarts wasn't the haven it once had been. Everything reminded him of Dumbledore, of Sirius, of the people who had died and the people who could die in the indefinite future. The castle reminded him of a time when he was happier, and that, he thought, was crueler than the Dursleys could be. Harry was brought out of his thoughts by a sharp noise to his left. He looked over. Professor McGonagall was in the common room, looking right at him.
"I was wondering if I could have a word, Potter, in my office," she said.
"If you want Professor, but I won't..."
"I will not ask you to say anything you do not wish to tell me," she interrupted.
"All right then," said Harry, and he followed her out of the portrait hole, through the castle, and into the office that had once been Dumbledore's.
"Have a seat, Harry." Harry noted the use of his first name, but said nothing as McGonagall took the seat behind the desk and met his eyes. Harry thought forcibly of twinkling eyes examining him through half-moon spectacles. He shook his head slightly to clear it. McGonagall frowned.
"Are you all right?" she asked gently. Harry felt slightly out of place. McGonagall had been like this with him on two other occasions, and Harry was now coming to the conclusion that he liked the stern McGonagall better. When she used his first name, it meant something bad had happened.
"No," said Harry truthfully. "I won't be all right until he's dead." He looked away from McGonagall at Dumbledore's sleeping portrait. "It's my job now."
McGonagall glanced up at Dumbledore's portrait as well and sighed.
"You will not be returning to school next year," she said. It wasn't a question. Harry stared at her, shocked. He hadn't told anyone except Ron and Hermione about his plans for the next year.
"No," Harry replied. "I've got things I've got to do now. Things he wanted me to do. It can't wait anymore. Hogwarts isn't safe anymore and I... Too many people have died to give me more time." McGonagall raised her eyebrows slightly, confused, but she didn't mention it. She had, after all, agreed not to ask anything he didn't want to tell.
"Well, whenever you are done with whatever you are doing, you are welcome to come back to Hogwarts. I told Dolores I would do everything within my power to help you become an Auror. I meant it."
"Thank you, Professor," said Harry, smiling sadly. He got up to go.
"Be careful, Harry," McGonagall said as he reached the door. He looked back for a moment, and for a second he almost thought he saw Dumbledore's portrait smiling behind her.
Harry met Professor McGonagall's eyes and said, "I was wondering if that offer was still good."
When Harry and Professor McGonagall reached the doors to the Great Hall, Dobby left to get back to his work and McGonagall stopped.
"You ought to go the hospital wing," she commented. He took another step towards the doors.
"I'm fine," he replied, grinning. "But I'll be even better if I get to eat something decent. I didn't just defeat Voldemort to be fed potions." Professor McGonagall blinked and stared at him.
"Defeated..." she whispered, "You?... It's over?"
"Of course it is. I'm here, aren't I?" he asked.
"But how? Dumbledore never... How?" she spluttered. Harry shrugged.
"Luck, as usual," he replied. "But anyway, I'm starving. I haven't told anyone else yet. Ron and Hermione have gone home so I'm sure the story will be out soon anyway. I'll tell it to the entire Order later tonight if you'd like, but right now, I'd really just like to eat a meal in peace. Please don't tell anyone yet." Harry watched her stare at him in shock for a few more moments. Then she smiled. Harry pushed open the doors to the Great Hall.
It took a few moments. The first person who spotted him began to whisper to his friends, and then the next, and then everyone in the hall turned silently to stare at him. Everyone, except one.
Ginny Weasley looked up from her breakfast and saw Harry Potter standing in the entrance to the Great Hall. She blinked, but Harry didn't disappear. She stood up, slowly, many eyes following her, and began walking towards the doors. When she reached him, she looked into green eyes that she hadn't seen for six months.
"He's dead," said Harry. He tried to read Ginny's expression, not sure of what he hoped to see there.
"Good," replied Ginny, "because I never gave up on you, Harry Potter." With that, she reached up and kissed him, despite the fact that the whole school was watching, including Professor McGonagall, who was standing right behind Harry. McGonagall coughed and Harry and Ginny broke apart, blushing. Pointing her wand at her throat, McGonagall muttered "Sonorus," and moments later she was saying to the school:
"The war against You-Know-Who is finished."
It took several seconds for this statement to sink in. When it did, everyone began cheering and pointing at Harry. But Harry, holding Ginny Weasley's hand, was too happy to care.
A/N: This story was originally only the first chapter, but after someone's pleas that I show the happy ending, I complied. (I'm a sucker for happy endings.) Anyway, I hope you liked it. Thanks for reading!