Continuing Tales


A Harry Potter Story
by MsBinns

Part 2 of 45

<< Previous     Home     Next >>
Untitled Document

Hermione and Ron startled at the sudden sound of Harry's voice, but saw nothing when they turned around. They didn't need to ask. They knew he was wearing his father's cloak in a likely attempt for peace and privacy among the growing crowd.

"Will you come with me?" Harry's voice sounded again from the nothingness. Ron had an inkling as to where Harry wanted to go and he wouldn't mind leaving the Great Hall and all its carnage, but the thought of returning down the corridors where so much had also been lost made him shudder.

He gave a lingering glance back to his family, his eyes resting the longest on George, before following the sound of Harry's footsteps out to the Entrance Hall. Ruby, sapphire, emerald and topaz beads, remnants of the shattered house hourglass, covered the floor. The gems were a stark reminder that the number of gems for Gryffindor had once seemed like the most important thing in the world to him. His eyes took in the spectacular ruin that was Hogwarts the morning after. The castle that had once been their home - a bastion of peace, comfort, and safety - was in shambles. Remnants of statues, including what Ron thought looked like the other half of Lachlan the Lanky, and great clumps of potting soil, no doubt the result of Professor Sprout's valiant defenses, littered the stone floor.

Harry marched up the marble staircase with a clear destination in mind, kicking aside the rubble as he went. Portraits were torn and tattered, walls were crumbling, and a small fire even smoldered at the top of the stairs. Hermione gasped each time they passed a bloodstain, but Ron and Harry didn't flinch. In fact, Harry's footsteps didn't stop until he reached a crumbling stone gargoyle on the second floor. Only then, as if seeming to decide he was far enough away from the crowds, did he finally remove the cloak. Ron embraced him as soon as he became visible. His hand was still joined with Hermione's and their arms enveloped Harry like a blanket. It marked one of only a handful of times Ron could ever remember hugging him in his life, but if Harry was at all uncomfortable by the fierce hug, he remained silent. Ron squeezed him tightly, as if to confirm that it truly was his best friend.

Harry's triumphant return that morning had been difficult for him to process. At first he had thought he was imagining it, the same way he now expected Fred to walk through the doors at any moment and shout 'surprise!' It had only been Hermione's fingernails digging into his arms that made him realise other people could see Harry too.

And while they had briefly celebrated with him in the immediate aftermath of his victory, his success then had been all that mattered. Now as he hugged his friend, Ron remembered all too well the sight of Harry's limp body lying in Hagrid's arms. He remembered the pit he'd felt in his stomach with the realisation that his best friend was dead and he'd lost not one, but two brothers in a matter of hours.

"Oh, Harry! We thought - we thought…" Hermione seemed to be recalling the sight of Harry's presumed dead body as well. She couldn't make herself say the words or release Harry from her grasp.

"We thought you were gone, mate," Ron finished, a slight crack in his voice as he spoke.

"I know." Harry broke away and looked to Ron then. "I could hear you though…what you said to him."

Ron kicked around a piece of broken glass uncomfortably at Harry's words. He beat you! He hadn't realised at the time how much those defiant words to Voldemort had roused everyone. They had done more than just break the Silencing Charm.; they'd lifted everyone from the despair that had gripped them all at seeing Harry's lifeless body. Now that Harry mentioned it and Ron thought back, he felt like the memory was of someone else. That couldn't have been him. There was no way he could have stood up and directly challenged the man whose name alone he had feared to speak for nearly nineteen years. Ron shrugged.

"I just told the truth," he stated simply.

Peeves suddenly appeared from the ceiling above and began whizzing about their heads, singing verses of a jubilant victory song.

"We did it, we bashed them! Wee Potter's the one. Now Voldy's gone mouldy, so let's have some fun!"

"Really gives a feeling for the scope and tragedy of the thing, doesn't it?" Ron remarked dryly.

He took a step forward and opened up the door before them. Though they had made no mention of their destination, he knew exactly where they were headed. He knew there was only one person in the castle Harry wanted to see right now. Hermione paused beside the door and waited for him to pass through as well, but Ron motioned for her to go through first. The courteous action had become second nature to him. He had been opening doors and pulling out chairs for her for most of the last year, but the act of chivalry still seemed to please her and she gave him a flattered smile as she walked by.

"Why'd you go after him alone?" Ron finally asked what he knew had been weighing on their minds since Hagrid had brought Harry's body forth that morning. "Why didn't you come get us?"

"Because it was me," Harry blurted out, as if that explained everything. "I was his last Horcrux."

"You?" Hermione cried incredulously. They passed by a painting of a crowded dinner party of old wizards who all had their glasses raised in honour of Harry and were shouting his name. It looked like numerous other figures had joined the party from other paintings. Harry gave them a curt nod of acknowledgment and thanks.

"When he gave me this." He pointed to the scar on his forehead. "He made me a Horcrux without even knowing it."

"You mean there was a piece of Voldemort's soul inside you all these years?" Hermione asked. She wrinkled her nose, clearly disturbed at the concept. Harry nodded solemnly.

"It's why I can speak Parseltongue."

"So all these years You-Know-Who's been trying to kill you…he didn't even know he'd be killing part of himself in the process." Ever the tactician, Ron reasoned the logic out slowly in his head. "That's brilliant!"

The trio walked past yet another congratulatory portrait and Harry gave another terse wave in its general direction. A look of horror suddenly crossed Hermione's face and the color drained from it in a matter of seconds.

"Except it means - it means you had to – y - you," Hermione stammered at the realisation of the sacrifice Harry had been forced to make. "Oh, Harry, and you didn't even say goodbye!" She burst into tears quite suddenly and Ron pulled her instinctively to his chest in a hug. He knew why Harry hadn't said goodbye. It was the same reason he hadn't planned on bothering with goodbyes when he left the Burrow last summer. Secretly, he was glad they'd been forced to leave during the wedding like they had back in August. If he had started saying goodbye he knew he'd probably never be able to stop. He looked to his friend and nodded his head in understanding.

"But how did you know you were a Horcrux? Please tell me you didn't know all this time that you had to…" Hermione looked truly ill at the thought and couldn't even finish her sentence.

"I didn't. I swear," Harry promised. "It was Professor Snape. Professor Snape told me." Harry spoke the name rather wistfully and Ron looked at him curiously. He was puzzled by both the forlorn look on his face at the mention of Snape, and the fact that Harry had actually addressed him by his proper title. Ron could only recall Harry calling him Professor Snape under duress or when corrected by another teacher.

"But Professor Snape's - "

"Dead, I know." Again, the melancholy look crossed Harry's face.

"So how - "

"His memories. Remember he gave me his memories before he died?"

"Yeah, I still don't understand why that git thought you'd want them," Ron hissed, still unable to excuse years of torment at the hands of the ill-tempered potions master.

"Obviously he knew something Harry had to know," Hermione stated as they wandered down a rubble-strewn corridor.

"He knew it all. He knew how to beat him. He knew how it had to happen."

"You mean he knew you had to die?" Hermione interrupted.

"That probably made him happy," Ron scoffed.

"No. It didn't." Harry was quick to defend. He paused both his narrative and his feet momentarily, causing Ron and Hermione to stop in their tracks as well. "He was on our side, Ron, didn't you hear me telling Riddle?"

"About arranging Dumbledore's death and all? I heard. Seems to me he enjoyed playing on the dark side a bit too much though." Ron remembered all too well the cursed-off ear of his brother.

"He was trying to protect George and Professor Lupin that night," Harry seemed to read Ron's mind, but at the mention of Lupin they all grew quite morose. Ron had been so numb to the loss this morning that Fred was all he could even think about. He'd hardly even thought about poor Professor Lupin and Tonks.

"You don't know that." He finally broke the silence.

"I used the Pensieve in Dumbledore's office. There was a Death Eater about to curse him. He didn't mean to hit George."

Ron scowled, unconvinced by his explanation. He opened up his mouth to counter Harry's defense of Snape, but the words died in his mouth as he recognised the corridor they were suddenly standing in.

The explosion had torn a hole in the castle, leaving a gaping wound to the outside. Ron winced at the sunlight streaming in. Bits of the night slowly returned to him as he looked down the corridor numbly. Underneath the painting of the dragon hunt was where he had been thrown. The great bloodstain was where Percy had turned Pius Thicknesse into a human sea urchin. And there at the end of the rug, on the bare cold stone floor, was where he'd found Fred.

Ron knew they'd have to pass by the spot to get to their destination, but his feet were fixed on the stone unable to move.

"Why don't we go around by Professor Vector's office," Hermione suggested quietly, well aware of the reason behind his hesitation.

"Because that would take us all the way around," Harry frowned. "This is the quickest way there." He began walking down the corridor, clearly oblivious to its significance.

Ron didn't budge. He knew he couldn't blame his friend for not remembering. He didn't know half of what had happened to Harry last night, but he knew enough to realise this corridor had probably been nothing but a blur to him.

"Well, I don't think it looks very safe," Hermione said pointedly, eyeing the gaping hole in the side of the building in an obvious effort to clue Harry in. "I think we should go by Professor Vector's." Ron felt her hand tighten around his and before Harry could even reply she took began leading the way down another narrower corridor.

This one was dark and difficult to navigate, strewn with rubble and carnage like the rest of the castle. The hulking remains of several of Aragog's descendants lined the corridors and Ron kicked at them in disgust, swearing as he went.

"What else did you see, Harry?" Hermione inquired suddenly. "In the Pensieve, I mean. What else did you learn about Professor Snape?"

"He was protecting me," Harry shrugged, sidestepping around a broken mirror. "All these years we thought he was out to get us, but he was always just trying to protect me."

"And the five-thousand points he took from Gryffindor in the last six years? The foul things he said to Hermione? What he did to my sister this year? That was all to protect you?" Ron spat, clearly not as quick to forgive as Harry.

"Don't you see, Ron? He had to," Hermione reasoned. "If he was really loyal to Dumbledore it meant he still had to act the part. Think if Malfoy or Crabbe saw him treating us kindly; what they would have told their fathers? He had to be cruel if he wanted to keep in Voldemort's favour."

"He was a horrible person! Do you not remember how he treated you, Hermione?" Ron looked at her in disbelief and horror, recalling numerous occasions she'd been reduced to tears in the dungeon and he'd wanted nothing more than to knock Snape right in the mouth. "I can't believe you of all people could just forgive him. And you, Harry! The man was - "

"She called him 'Sev'," Harry blurted out. "My mum did."


"He was her friend. They were best friends even before they went to Hogwarts. And she called him Sev."

Ron opened up his mouth, about to object as to what a silly nickname could possibly mean, but Hermione cast him a remonstrating look, so he let Harry continue.

"And he was in love with her, so in love with her for years and years. But my dad fancied her and they were…they were horrible to him at school and he made a mistake and he lost her."

"What'd he do?"

"Called her a Mudblood," Harry replied quietly after a long pause.

"And you feel bad for him? Are you mad? Harry, he - "

"He was a teenager! And he was in love and he was angry. Like you've never done anything you don't regret!" Harry defended as they made the final turn to their destination.

"I'd never call Hermione that! Never!" Ron knew what Harry was getting at. "And I'm in - well…" His voice tapered off in embarrassment at the confession that had almost trickled out. If Hermione heard, she fortunately said nothing.

"The point is, he spent the rest of his life making up for his mistakes…his whole life was one sad mistake he died trying to avenge." Harry stopped in front of the gargoyle that guarded the entrance to their destination and looked at his two friends intently. "He relayed the prophecy to Riddle and he lived the rest of his life knowing the woman he loved died because of him."

"But he's still the reason she's dead." Ron shrugged, unable to get past that simple fact and comprehend his friend's reasoning.

"And he regretted it! Did you hear what I told Riddle about his Patronus? That silver doe in the Forest of Dean that we both followed? The sword of Gryffindor in the pond that let you kill the locket? It was him. It was all him." Harry let the words hang in the air a beat. "He never stopped loving her. All these years his Patronus was a doe just like my mum's and it never changed."

Though she had already heard Harry's explanation that morning, the revelation still seemed to touch Hermione. Ron thought he even detected tears forming in her eyes again. He wasn't quite as moved by the story of Snape's undying love, however. He knew all too well what it was like to secretly care for someone for years and to be jealous and do dumb things and say things you regret, but there was a line to the kind of behaviour that could excuse. In his mind, Snape had crossed that line. Clearly his actions and remorse over the past seventeen years suddenly made him every bit the hero to Harry and Hermione though. So Ron kept his mouth shut and looked instead to the gargoyle that guarded the headmaster's office.

The statue didn't look as if it was keeping watch on anything, much less the entrance to the office. Like most everything else in the castle, it seemed to have abandoned its duties in the joyful events of the morning.

"Looks a bit peaky, doesn't it?" Ron remarked.

"Can we go up?" Harry asked. The gargoyle groaned a response that would be difficult to interpret as affirmative if not for the slowly rising staircase. The trio stepped forward and rode the staircase like an escalator as it rose up to the great wooden doors.

Ron's eyes gazed around the sunlit office wondrously as the doors opened wide. He had only been in here once before; when his father had been bitten by Voldemort's snake. Now that there was no sense of mortal peril for anybody, he could take in the grandeur of the regal looking office. The shelf and glass case behind the large desk where the sword of Gryffindor and Sorting Hat used to be were conspicuously bare, but the rest of the office looked as stately as he recalled.

Ron glanced beside him and saw Hermione's eyes widen at the tremendous array of rare books that rested in the great bookcases that stretched from floor to ceiling. He grinned at her obvious enthusiasm, knowing she'd like nothing more than to dive into the many volumes. There was a large open book on the desk next to a small tin of mint humbugs and a long black raven feather still standing in a full inkwell. Snape had been about to write something. Ron was intrigued by the open book, but even more by the sight of the candy. Snape liked mint humbugs. For some reason that fact affected him more than anything Harry had just confessed about the late headmaster's undying love and loyalty.

Before Ron could reflect any further on the man who, according to Harry, had made their victory possible, the portraits of Hogwarts' headmasters past all sprang to their feet trumpeting the arrival of the trio. Dilys Derwent sobbed loudly from her portrait and Armando Dippet cheered wildly from his armchair. Phineus Nigellus greeted Hermione like an old friend, and Ron had to do a double take as he looked at Albus Dumbledore, who rested in the portrait nearest to them. He had known that Dumbledore was the reason they had come to the office, but still, the sight of their former headmaster resting there with tears in his eyes behind his half-moon glasses felt odd to Ron. He remembered the funeral like it was yesterday and yet, there he was before them, if only in a picture.

He and Hermione simply stood there, embarrassed by the ovation, until Harry finally raised his hands and silenced the portraits. Though his eyes expressed nothing but gratitude for the reception, he spoke, as presumed, to Dumbledore and only Dumbledore.

"The thing that was hidden in the Snitch, I dropped it in the forest." The words were hardly the first words Ron expected to hear. "I don't know exactly where, but I'm not going to go looking for it again. Do you agree?"

He saw a light in Hermione's eyes as something clearly seemed to register with her, but he just looked to Harry curiously, wondering what the significance of the last piece of Dumbledore's puzzle possibly could have been. He hadn't had a chance to think about things, and now that he was here with Harry and had just heard the account of what had happened, he felt like his brain was on overload. All the events of the past few hours quickly came crashing down on him inside the office. What had come out of the Snitch and how had Harry known to open it? How exactly did he die? What did it feel like to die? Had he been in heaven? How had he come back?

"My dear boy, I do," Dumbledore spoke softly. Ron was relieved to see the other portraits looked just as confused as he did. "A wise and courageous decision, but no less than I would have expected of you. Does anyone else know where it fell?"

"No one." Ron noted Dumbledore's pleased expression at the revelation. "I'm going to keep Ignotus's present though."

The mention of Ignotus Peverell caused Ron to jerk his head up and connect the dots. The final Hallow had been in the Snitch. Harry had the Resurrection Stone. A hope suddenly stirred inside Ron as he thought of his brother.

"But of course, Harry, it is yours forever, until you pass it on!" Dumbledore looked quite satisfied that Harry was going to keep the Invisibility Cloak.

"And then there's this." The Elder Wand almost seemed to glow as Harry held it aloft. "I don't want it." Harry answered at least one of the many questions Ron had buzzing around his head.

"What?" Ron cried, "Are you mental?"

"I know it's powerful," Harry spoke wearily, as if the mere thought of keeping the most powerful wand in the world was exhausting. "But I was happier with mine. So…" Ron looked wistfully at the wand in Harry's hand as he watched him repair his old Phoenix feather wand.

"I'm putting the Elder Wand back where it came from. It can stay there. If I die a natural death like Ignotus, its power will be broken, won't it? The previous master will never have been defeated. That'll be the end of it." Ron couldn't help but think it seemed as if Harry had thought on this quite a bit. Ron thought it seemed a waste to just lay the Elder Wand to rest with Dumbledore. It was the equivalent of throwing away invincibility. He was throwing away a weapon they might very well need in the future.

"Are you sure?" he asked uncertainly and for the briefest of moments his eyes flashed covetously on the wand.

"I think Harry's right," Hermione spoke for the first time since entering the office. She rubbed the back of Ron's hand with her thumb softly and the gentle reminder was enough to remind him that they had peaceful days ahead. Their days of dueling and mortal peril where they would need the Death Stick were hopefully at an end.

"The wand's more trouble than it's worth," Harry sighed in disgust and he turned towards the door. "And quite honestly, I've had enough trouble for a lifetime."

"I think we've all had enough for three lifetimes," Ron added with an equally exhausted sigh. He found it hard to believe how little time had actually passed since he'd left his brother's house outside Tinworth. He felt like weeks had passed since he'd departed for Gringott's disguised as Dragomir Despard. The brief desire he had for the wand quickly dissipated as a new kind of longing filled him. Suddenly all he could think about was the Gryffindor common room and the four poster bed that he'd longed for so much in the past year.

"Thank you, Professor," Harry looked back over his shoulder to the still smiling portrait of Professor Dumbledore. "Without the stone I wouldn't have been able to do it. Without you, I wouldn't have - "

"Thank you, Harry." The voice that came out of the portrait was no more than a whisper. "But I think it is safe to say the credit for this great triumph lies solely with you."

"Not just me." Harry shook his head firmly. "I couldn't have done any of it without Ron and Hermione."

"Hear, hear!" Several of the portraits cheered.

"Descendants of mine, you know, the Weasleys!" Ron heard Phineus Nigellus chime in boastfully.

"But of course." Dumbledore smiled. "If a man finds just one friend in his entire lifetime as loyal and true as Mr. Weasley and Ms. Granger have been to you, he would be lucky indeed." Ron and Hermione both blushed at Dumbledore's words.

"Professor, how did you - "

"Ah, Harry, the time for questions, of which I am sure you still have many, will come - "

"But - "

"But I will still be here, Harry. I will always be here in this office." As Dumbledore spoke, Ron wondered if his kind words referred to him and Hermione as well. There was so much he wanted to ask. Despite not ever having had a true conversation with the man, Dumbledore had known Ron's heart better than he had himself. Ron wanted to know how he had known to give him his Deluminator. How had he known that he would walk out on his friends? How had he known that Hermione's voice would lead him back?

"Now off to bed," Dumbledore ordered affectionately then, tearing Ron away from his thoughts. Though the sun was streaming in, he knew the exhaustion on all their faces was evident. Dumbledore smiled then and his eyes twinkled at the three. "As much as I disliked them, I seem to recall the Gryffindor bed curtains to be absolutely extraordinary at keeping out the light."


A Harry Potter Story
by MsBinns

Part 2 of 45

<< Previous     Home     Next >>