He never really unpacked his trunk. He wasn’t staying, anyway. He Apparated back to the Dursleys'
with McGonagall the day after the funeral and immediately wrote to Ron
asking him to come and get him as soon as possible. He didn’t care how:
Floo fire, Apparate with Mr. Weasley, ride on his broom, whatever. The
moment Hedwig was away, he took a shower, put on his shorts and sat on
his bed, with his photo album in his lap. He was suddenly aware that he
didn’t have any pictures of Dumbledore. He frantically dug through his
trunk until he found what he was looking for: the Dumbledore Chocolate
Frog Card he had got on the train his first year at Hogwarts.
stared at the card for the rest of the night, fighting his disbelief
that Dumbledore was truly dead until finally, mentally exhausted, fell
into an uneasy sleep.
The response from Ron arrived early the next morning.
Dad will pick you up Friday. It could not be managed sooner. See you then.
was four days away when he got the post. Harry stayed in his room,
occupying his time trying to understand everything that had occurred.
As he thought, he kept the fake Horcrux with him, running it through
his fingers and between his hands.
Friday had finally arrived.
Harry didn’t know when Arthur would show up, but he wasn’t going to be
caught unprepared like he was when Dumbledore came to get him last
summer. As soon as he finished his breakfast he came out of his room,
took his dishes to the kitchen (much to Aunt Petunia’s amazement), then
proceeded to bring all his belongings downstairs. Once this was
completed, he sat on his trunk, resumed playing with the fake Horcrux
To his surprise, none of the Dursleys bothered him. At a quarter to noon, Petunia opened the kitchen door and approached him.
“Expecting someone?” she asked simply.
There was a pause. “Will you be coming back?”
Harry sighed and said, “I suspect not.”
Petunia nodded and hung her head. She then returned to the kitchen, closing the door behind him.
was done, then. Harry was never coming back to the Dursleys. Not if he
could help it anyway. Oddly, this fact did not cheer him up.
precisely noon, there was a knock at the door. Harry hurried over to
it, but there turned out to be no need. None of the Dursleys entered
the room. Harry opened the door.
Mr. Weasley stood in the
doorway, looking much older than Harry remembered. He looked at Harry
with a sad, almost defeated gaze. He forced a smile.
“Mr. Weasley,” Harry replied.
“Ready to go then?” Mr. Weasley asked.
Harry nodded quickly.
Weasley looked around the room. Harry recognized what he was doing and
motioned him into the living room. Mr. Weasley walked over to his
belongings and waved his wand. They disappeared in a flash.
“So,” Mr. Weasley started. “This might be the end of your stay here.”
“Yeah,” Harry said dejectedly.
Mr. Weasley started to speak, but stopped before he could make a sound. He then said, “Whenever you’re ready.”
another word, Harry stepped over and put his hand on Mr. Weasley’s
shoulder. Moments later they were standing outside The Burrow.
Weasley hurried Harry into the house. “Sorry to rush, but I’ve got to
be off to work. You’ll be sharing a room with Ron again. Space is at a
premium with the wedding and all.”
“I don’t mind,” Harry said.
will continue to have heavy protection until after the wedding is
over,” Mr. Weasley revealed. “After that, it will be lightened a bit. I
suspect it will stay that way until… well, for a while.”
Harry sighed and nodded, understanding that he meant the security would be tight until he left.
Mr. Weasley’s face twisted in pity. “Do try to cheer up, Harry. The wedding is coming up. It’s a happy occasion.”
didn’t want to feel happy just then. After a pause, Mr. Weasley said,
“Right, Molly should be along soon. You’re well protected, so I’ll be
off. Take care, Harry.” With a loud crack he was gone.
alone in the house to his knowledge (save the guard), Harry decided he
was going to find something to eat. As he walked into the kitchen, Ron
and Hermione came back into his mind. After the games they played this
last year, he was sure now that it was only a matter of time before
they were going out, if they weren’t already. It suddenly occurred to
him that, given his decision about Ginny, they were refraining from
being… erm, romantic around him out of respect. He was thankful and
felt guilty at the same time. He couldn’t deny that he would feel a bit
jealous that they would be able to enjoy each other’s company and he
couldn’t do the same with Ginny. The happy memories he shared with
Ginny in the short time they were together flooded his mind,
threatening to send him into a mild depression. He shoved them away as
he opened the ice box, pulled out some leftovers and started making a
“Welcome back, Harry,” a voice said from behind him.
turned to see Ron enter the house. “I saw you from the field. I hope
your relatives didn’t give you any trouble,” he said as he joined Harry
in the kitchen.
Harry smiled at his long-time friend,
realizing, perhaps for the first time consciously, how much Ron (and he
himself) had grown. Ron was of age now, and soon Harry would be too.
Harry shook his head. “No trouble at all. They’re happy to be rid of me, I’m sure.”
Ron sat at the table facing Harry. “How are you getting on?”
Harry shrugged as he returned to finish making his sandwich. “As well as can be expected, I suppose.”
Ron replied. “I’m glad you’re here. With Hermione at home and Ginny
helping out with the wedding plans and stuff, I’ve been doing the
Harry let himself chuckle. “Misery loves company, eh?”
“Maybe, but I got done early so we could… talk.”
started putting things back in the icebox as he contemplated what Ron
wanted to talk about. He sat down with his sandwich and pumpkin juice
and settled in for a chat.
“What about?” Harry asked.
“Well,” Ron asked as he twitched uncomfortably, “have you ever thought about… getting married?”
Harry nearly choked on his bite of sandwich. He managed to get it down without suffocating. “What?”
“You know, once school is over and things are better… getting married, having kids and all that.”
washed down his belligerent bite of sandwich with a sip of pumpkin
juice. “I haven’t really thought that far out, honestly. How about you?”
Ron’s cheeks turned pink. “Well, with Bill and Fleur getting married, the subject has crossed my mind, yes.”
Harry waited a moment before asking, “And?”
Ron looked like he wanted to say something and was obviously very nervous about it. This made Harry nervous, too.
“If you have something to tell me, Ron, just get on with it, will you?”
Harry blinked. “What?”
Ron took a deep breath. “Hermione kissed me before we left Hogwarts.
Harry couldn’t keep the smile off of his face. “What do you mean she kissed you?”
“Well,” Ron said, shifting his position on the kitchen table bench again, “It was… a… kiss.”
Harry narrowed his eyes. “You mean a kiss on the cheek kind of kiss?” he asked, trying to lead Ron on.
“Erm, no…” Ron dodged, “It was… on the lips.”
“I see,” Harry said as seriously as he could fake it. “And?”
Ron blinked. “What do you mean, ‘And?’?”
Harry shrugged. “What’s the big deal?”
Ron started. “Big deal? Harry, she snogged me right there in front of Mum and Dad!”
Harry was beaming at this point. “You know, I was wondering if one of you would finally do something like that.”
Ron looked shocked. “You knew?”
shook his head. “I suspected, though. Trust me; I’ve been a mediator
between you two long enough to realize you’ve liked each other for a
while now. I would’ve thought what went on this last year would have
been obvious enough for anyone.”
“Then… you’re okay with it?” Ron asked tentatively.
smirked. “Ron, it’s not for me to be okay with it or not, but I will
say that I’ve been expecting this, and if I had any problem with it, I
would have told you sooner. Honestly, though, I’m very happy for you
Ron smiled brightly and relaxed visibly. “Thanks, Harry. That means a lot.”
A side thought entered Harry’s mind. “So I take it you’ve forgiven her for snogging Krum.”
Ron shrugged. “I had to, didn’t I? I mean, after Lavender…”
“Yeah,” Harry agreed. A connection jumped into Harry’s mind suddenly. “You two aren’t engaged already, are you?”
Ron laughed. “No, no, no, we haven’t gotten THAT far into things.”
Harry laughed with Ron. “Just checking. I mean, you were talking about marriage and all.”
“Yeah,” Ron replied, looking distracted. “Now that I think on it, I could never see myself married to Lavender.”
“No, definitely not,” Harry said immediately.
Ron tensed again. “Why did I start going out with her?” he asked to nobody in particular.
knew why, and he knew he had to say it. “Because she was the only one
who showed an obviously romantic interest in you. Well, besides
Hermione, of course.”
Ron shook his head. “Why didn’t I see it, Harry? Why didn’t I see how Hermione felt?”
“Because she was, and is, your friend, and you figured she would have showed interest the way Lavender did.”
“But…” Ron started.
“Hermione isn’t Lavender,” Harry finished for him. “She has her own way of doing things, you know that.”
Ron smiled. “Yeah, I do.”
“So when is she coming here?”
a few days,” Ron sighed. “She wanted to spend some time with her folks,
but she wants to come early enough to help out with the wedding.
Harry grinned slyly. “You don’t say.”
she seemed rather insistent as a matter of fact…” Ron’s tone dropped
off as he reached the same conclusion Harry did, his ears turning a
bright red. “That woman, I swear, she is the most devious person I know
outside of this family.”
“So am I to understand that you have thought about marrying Hermione?” Harry asked, trying to bring the conversation around.
nodded immediately, which surprised Harry. “Yeah, I have, but I’m not
in any hurry. I mean, I know I want to be with her, but I want things
to run properly, you know?”
A million thoughts flooded Harry’s mind, but he pushed them aside with some effort. “Yes, I do.”
then, Mrs. Weasley came into the house through the back door carrying
more bags and packages than Harry thought any person should be able to
handle at once. “Anyone home?” she cried as she pushed the door open
with her foot.
Ron and Harry immediately rushed over to help
her, taking the bags and boxes from her and laying them out on the
table. The moment her hands were free she hugged Harry who was trying
to get a box onto the table before she made him drop it.
“Let’s have a look at you… Well, we’ll need to feed you up a bit, but none the worse for wear. How are you getting on, then?”
Harry glanced at Ron. “Pretty well, thanks.”
“Well, best to keep your mind busy, eh? Can you help Ron put these things out under the tent? I must get on with dinner.”
and Harry busied themselves with opening the bags and boxes and laying
out the various items for the wedding underneath a staging tent in the
yard. Harry was surprised to see the extent of the changes to the
grounds; there was a large open area cleared, a stage already set up,
and chairs neatly stacked nearby. There were also several long tables
stacked to one side, not yet set up. He was glad to have something to
occupy his time, and before he knew it the sun was setting. Mrs.
Weasley called them into dinner soon after.
Mrs. Weasley had
already set out the food, and no sooner had Harry sat down than the
moment he had been dreading occurred: Ginny entered the room.
She came downstairs and caught his eye immediately. To Harry’s surprise, she didn’t skip a beat.
“There you are, Harry, when did you get in?” she asked very casually.
Harry was so taken that he almost forgot to answer. “Erm, a few hours ago. I’ve been outside helping Ron.”
sat down right across from Harry. “I wish I was out there. I’d rather
be out there than upstairs. After a while I start feeling a little
Harry watched her carefully, trying to gauge
her mood or catch a signal. He knew, though he didn’t know how, that
this is the way Ginny wanted it, and he decided right then to play
“What are you doing upstairs?” he asked as casually as he could manage.
been learning some of Dad’s expansion charms. I’m making some of the
rooms bigger. Charlie is coming, and Fleur’s folks will be taking
Percy’s old room. You’ll be with Ron while Bill and Charlie will be in
the twins’ old room.”
“Isn’t that kind of risky?” Harry asked. “Doing magic away from Hogwarts?”
Ginny smiled smugly. “They can’t tell when I’m doing magic at home, and as long as Mum and Dad know, it’s not a big deal.”
Harry thought about this a second and shrugged. “So Fleur and Hermione will be in with you?”
Ginny nodded as she finished filling her plate and smiled. “I did my room first.”
smiled with her. He relaxed a bit and, realizing how strong she had to
be to act this way, his admiration of her grew. Suddenly he was struck
with a horrible thought: what if she had decided to go on with her life
and look for someone else to go out with? The beast inside him roared
in protest, but Harry fought it down. It was too much of him to expect
her to wait for him. She deserved to be happy, and if that meant she
needed to be with someone else, so be it. His good mood faded quickly.
dinner, Ron and Harry retired to the family room for a rousing game of
Exploding Snap which cheered Harry up considerably. Just as they were
getting ready to head upstairs to bed, Bill and Fleur arrived. Bill’s
face had been bandaged to cover the worst of the scars which, Harry
learned, had just begun to heal. Bill caught Harry off guard by asking
him to sit and talk to him a bit.
“At the risk of bringing up bad memories, Harry, I’m told that you were the one who took down Greyback, is that right?”
Harry fought back the thoughts that entered his mind and nodded.
put a hand on Harry’s shoulder. “You may have been told this before,
Harry, and you might get tired of hearing it, but I feel I have to say
it anyway. You’re a hero. Thank you.”
Harry simply nodded.
glanced over at Fleur who nodded back. Bill continued, “Fleur and I
were wondering if you would consent to being a groomsman.”
Harry couldn’t keep the look of surprise from his face. “A groomsman?”
“We would be ‘onered eef you would do zeese for us,” Fleur said.
Harry was taken aback. “I don’t know what to say… what would I have to do?”
smiled. “Not much, really. It’s a ceremonial position. You’d walk up
with us, stand on the platform during the ceremony, sit with us at the
front table, that’s about it. You have dress robes, right?”
Harry nodded. “Yes.”
Bill smiled. “So what do you say?”
Harry smiled back. “Sure.”
Fleur and Bill both looked very pleased. Fleur walked over and gave Harry a kiss on both cheeks. “Thank you, ‘arry.”
“You’re welcome,” Harry said as happily as he could.
watched as Bill escorted Fleur up to Ginny’s room. As soon as they were
out of earshot, Harry asked Ron, “I’m surprised they didn’t ask you.”
“Who said they didn’t? But I’m not getting up on stage in front of everyone in dress robes. I declined.”
Harry laughed. “Well, I bet you wouldn’t mind so much if it were your own wedding.”
Harry watched as Ron thought about this, a look of dread coming over his face. “That’s it, we’re eloping.”
* * *
came down some time later. Arthur had just returned home and was
sitting in the family room with Molly. Bill smiled and sat down beside
“Oh, Bill, we’re so proud of you,” Molly said as she embraced her son.
“Thanks, Mum,” he said appreciatively.
“Only a few more days of freedom, eh?” Arthur piped in.
Molly backhanded him playfully, but laughed. “Are you ready?”
Bill smiled. “I think so.”
“Any luck with Harry?” Arthur asked somewhat anxiously.
Bill nodded. “He consented almost immediately. We were pleasantly surprised.”
There was an uncomfortable silence then before Molly said, “I hope he’ll forgive us once he remembers Ginny is a bridesmaid.”
“Are you sure we shouldn’t pair him with Gabrielle?” Bill asked.
Arthur smirked. “Do you honestly think Ginny would forgive you for that?”
“Right,” Bill said immediately.
“Well, what’s done is done,” Molly said as if to end the conversation. “We’ll just have to see how it all works out.”