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SIYE Time:2:46 on 22nd July 2017


These Cuts I Have
By melindaleo

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Category: Post-DH/AB
Characters:All
Genres: Drama
Warnings: Mild Language, Mild Sexual Situations, Negative Alcohol Use
Story is Complete
Rating: PG-13
Reviews: 475
Summary: The war has been won, yet the aftershocks continue. The scattered survivors are left to pick up the pieces and find ways to move on. Join the various members of the extended Weasley family as they struggle to rebuild and cope with the consequences. And of course there are still Death Eaters left to find.
Hitcount: Story Total: 80752; Chapter Total: 3365
Awards: View Trophy Room




Author's Notes:
There were several of you who commented on the hostility between Harry and Draco. I know by the epilogue they are civil, but I donít think that couldíve happened without some further interactions between the two. The last time they were together, Draco tried to hand Harry over to the Death Eaters Ė several times. I think something else needs to happen, so Iím going to explore that a bit.

Thanks so much for all the wonderful reviews! I really do enjoy hearing your thoughts about what Iím putting on the page. Itís very motivating. This story isnít complete, and Iíve hit a bit of a block even though Iím very near the end, so the encouraging words really do help!




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Chapter Sixteen
Back to the Beginning



Harry and Mr. Weasley sat in the opulent Office of the Minister for Magic, awaiting his arrival. After Harry had told Mr. Weasley about his encounter with Draco Malfoy the previous day, Mr. Weasley thought it best to inform the Minister in person. Less chance of being overheard.

The office still looked exactly the same. Harry imagined Kingsley had been too busy to put his own touch on it yet. He amused himself with the thought of the bold colors Kingsley favored adorning this stuffy old office.

Aside from the run-in with Malfoy, George’s re-opening had gone smashingly well. Large crowds had continued to stream in all day, and despite constant restocking, the shelves were bare by the time George locked the door. Mr. and Mrs. Weasley had returned to The Burrow, but the rest of them stayed, and along with Lee and Alicia, had ordered some take-away and had a rather raucous evening up in George’s flat.

Harry and Ron had told Ginny and Hermione all about their encounter with Malfoy, causing Hermione to scowl and scold them for running out to confront him in the first place.

A haughty young wizard clutching a clipboard poked his head inside the office and announced that the Minister was running a tad behind schedule, but he’d be with them shortly. Harry and Mr. Weasley caught each other’s eye before turning away to hide their smirks. The wizard reminded both of them of Percy when he’d first joined the Ministry.

“So, how is Grimmauld Place coming along, Harry?” Mr. Weasley asked.

“Slow,” Harry replied. “The kitchen is done. Cleaned it up and painted the walls. It looks like new, except without food. Or dishes.”

Mr. Weasley smiled. “Was nothing salvageable?”

“No, most everything was smashed. Mrs. Weasley showed me some Cleaning Charms that worked on the counters and cooker, though.”

“Good. Let us know if there is anything else we can do,” Mr. Weasley said easily. “The Floo is still closed to anywhere but The Burrow, right?”

Harry nodded, “The Burrow and George’s flat, actually. And no one can Apparate directly inside, not even me. I’m being careful, sir.”

“I know you are. You can’t blame me for worrying though. It’s what I do,” Mr. Weasley smiled.

Harry felt warm inside. Mr. and Mrs. Weasley always made him feel as if he mattered as much as the rest of their children and — to Harry’s great relief — none of the siblings seemed to mind it. They treated him as part of the unit.

It was odd, but he found he liked it.

“Er… thank you. For everything,” Harry said, ducking his head.

Mr. Weasley seemed to know what he was trying to say, for he patted Harry jovially on the shoulder and said, “Any time, lad.”

Harry knew that both Mr. and Mrs. Weasley had concerns about his past, particularly after that awful scene over the swimming hole. They’d respected his desire not to talk about it and hadn’t pressed. He knew it was still on both of their minds, however, because on odd occasions, he found them watching him contemplatively.

“I understand that you’re a grown man and more than capable of taking care of yourself. I just hope you know that you’re not on your own. You can come to Molly and me with anything… even if it’s just to talk about the present, or even the past,” Mr. Weasley said, clearing his throat.

Harry ducked his head again. “I do know that, Mr. Weasley.”

“Arthur, Harry, I’m so sorry to have kept you waiting,” Kingsley said, interrupting as he hurried into the room. “I have a situation out at Azkaban that’s taking up all my time.”

“Anything serious?” Harry asked instantly.

“Nothing you need to worry about,” the Minister said firmly. “Now, what’s going on with you two? Your owl sounded serious, Arthur.”

“Draco Malfoy was waiting to talk to me outside of George’s shop yesterday,” Harry said. “He insinuated Rodolphus Lestrange was seeking aid from Mr. Malfoy. Draco is hoping to cut a deal.”

“He also warned Harry that he’s the main target of these rogue Death Eaters, not that we weren’t aware of that,” Mr. Weasley said.

“Harry, you’re certain that Voldemort didn’t share the information of his Horcruxes with any of the Death Eaters, correct?” Kingsley asked solemnly.

Harry’s heart rate increased. This was the perfect opportunity to get it done and over. He knew he should tell the whole story. Kingsley needed to know everything to ensure it could never happen again. Harry had to stop keeping secrets. Isn’t that what Ginny kept telling him?

He didn’t want to be like Voldemort.

“I’m positive. He never trusted anyone enough with that information,” Harry said. He took a deep breath. “There is one more piece you should know, however.”

Mr. Weasley raised his head, brow furrowed, and Kingsley’s eyes narrowed. “Oh?”

Harry took another steadying breath. He looked up and caught Mr. Weasley’s pale blue eyes. Somehow, they reassured him, so he looked directly at Mr. Weasley as he spoke.

“I don’t want the Order to know this part. I don’t want this to leave this room,” he said. The Daily Prophet would never leave him alone if this got out. They’d have him billed as the next Dark Lord within a week.

“What is it, Harry?” Mr. Weasley asked seriously.

Harry continued to hold Mr. Weasley’s gaze. “There was one more Horcrux. Voldemort never realized he made it. It happened the night he killed my parents. His soul split again when he killed my mother.”

Harry’s voice had run out of steam. Mr. Weasley put a hand on his shoulder and squeezed it reassuringly.

“It attached itself to me,” he said shakily.

“What?!” Kingsley exploded.

“Merlin,” Mr. Weasley gasped. His hand on Harry’s shoulder tightened to the point it was painful, as he stared at Harry with a horror-struck expression.

“Professor Dumbledore suspected it. I don’t know for how long. He also knew that, once Voldemort used my blood in that graveyard, that we were tethered to each other even further. Voldemort had to be the one to kill me in order to destroy the Horcrux, and it worked.”

“You walked into that forest unarmed?” Kingsley asked astutely.

Harry shrugged guiltily. “Well, I tucked my wand inside my jacket, so I wouldn’t be tempted.”

He felt remarkably lighter after finishing his tale. The pressure on his chest that had nearly suffocated him for so long was gone. It had lessened after his breakdown with Ginny, and now he could take a deep breath without any pain at all.

Mr. Weasley and the Minister, however, looked much the worse for it. Mr. Weasley appeared rather grey, and he seemed unable to speak. Kingsley had a thin line of sweat on his upper lip, and an astonished expression on his face.

“So there were seven Horcruxes in all,” Kingsley finally said.

“Right, plus him. His Death Eaters heard him say he couldn’t die, but I think they believed it just because they thought he was so powerful. They believed he was a pure-blood, too. I think they bought whatever he told them,” Harry said with disgust.

Kingsley nodded. “He certainly didn’t treat them like his equals.”

“When did you find out you were a Ho… Horcrux?” Mr. Weasley asked, stumbling over the word. He seemed to be having a hard time grasping it.

“It was one of Snape’s memories,” Harry said quietly.

Mr. Weasley looked bowled over. “Albus knew? All that time he had us guarding you, he knew?”

Harry knew what Mr. Weasley was feeling, but he didn’t want him to think badly of the former Headmaster. “He knew, but he had to look out for more than just me. He had the entire Wizarding world at stake. He still worked out how I might survive. He told Snape that Voldemort had to be the one to do it, but not why. Snape died thinking I was going to die, too.”

Mr. Weasley looked ready to collapse. He was really taking this worse than Harry had expected. Kingsley handed him a glass of brandy, and Mr. Weasley drank it quickly, handing the glass back to Kingsley, who refilled it.

“Look,” Harry said, “it worked. Dumbledore’s plan worked in the end. I had to face Voldemort believing I would die or else it would all be for naught. Professor Dumbledore knew what he was doing.”

“It’s just hard to take in,” Kingsley said, pouring himself a brandy.

“I know. I was upset with Dumbledore at first, too, but not anymore. He was right. He saved us all,” Harry said earnestly.

“I think the same could be said of you,” Mr. Weasley said, his eyes overly bright.

Harry ducked his head, embarrassed.

“I think it’s fair to warn you that the Wizengamot is planning to award you an Order of Merlin, First Class,” Kingsley said, watching Harry closely.

Harry frowned. “And Ron and Hermione?” he asked.

Kingsley nodded. “Them, too. Second class. There are also several members of your Dumbledore’s Army who will receive Third Class awards.”

“Good,” Harry said, pleased the recognition would be spread around to those who deserved it. He didn’t think he deserved any more of an honor than Ron or Hermione, but he’s save that argument for another day. At the moment, he felt rather drained.

“There’ll be a big celebration, but I’d prefer to hold off a while longer. We’ve had a few leads on these missing Death Eaters, and I’d like to follow through before presenting such a large target,” the Minister said.

“I can wait,” Harry said, feeling uncomfortable with the whole thing anyway.

The Minister nodded. “I’ll let you know.”

******

Ginny and Hermione were sitting in the shade under the big oak tree in the back garden. Hermione held a book, while Ginny was flipping through the latest copy of Quidditch Illustrated. It was a pleasantly warm day with a nice breeze that would flutter Ginny’s hair every so often. It was that kind of lazy summer day where she felt she had a lot to do, but didn’t particularly want to do any of it.

As Hermione had pointed out, she should be revising for her Transfiguration exam. Ginny had brought her textbook outside with her, but she’d yet to open it. Hermione kept eyeing it disapprovingly.

Harry and her father had gone into the Ministry early that morning to discuss the appearance of Draco Malfoy at the opening of George’s shop yesterday. She’d never cared for the arrogant, condescending Slytherin, and the fact he’d been there forcefully reminded her again that Harry still wasn’t safe. She was beginning to wonder if he ever would be.

Ron had gone to the shop to work with George, so she and Hermione were left to entertain themselves. She was about to ask Hermione if she wanted to go for a swim, when she saw Charlie coming out the kitchen door, a small rucksack in his hand.

He’d told them all he was going back to Romania that afternoon.

“Charlie,” she called, and he walked toward them.

“Hey, Ginny. Hermione,” he greeted.

“You’re really going then?” Ginny asked, staring at his rucksack. She knew he missed his dragons. She’d just hoped there would be a little more time.

“Yeah, I need to get back to work. I’m coming home for Christmas though,” Charlie said.

“How’s your mum?” Hermione asked. Mum didn’t want Charlie to leave, either.

“She’ll be all right. She always is. I’ll ask her to send food once I’m back. That always cheers her up,” Charlie replied.

“I wish you didn’t have to go so soon,” Ginny said unhappily. “Everyone is leaving.” Ginny knew she sounded childish, something she’d hex any one of her brothers for calling her on, but she couldn’t help it. She wanted them all together.

Charlie shrugged. “Yeah, and I wish I was here more last year, but we’ve all got our own paths to follow. When I came home, I still thought of you as the little girl I left behind. Things change, and I see you differently now, but I still love you just as much, even if I don’t live at home anymore, squirt,” Charlie said tenderly, reaching out and giving Ginny a bear hug. He ruffled the top of her hair as if she still were a little girl when he released her.

“I know,” she sighed. “I love you, too, Charlie.”

“Ace all your NEWTs next year, and then come and visit me in Romania. Bring Harry along. That Hungarian Horntail he got by in the Tri-Wizard Tournament will be happy to see him,” Charlie said, grinning.

Ginny laughed. “I don’t know if he’d be happy to see the dragon though.”

“I don’t know. I think he’s much fonder of dragons since that one helped us out of Gringotts,” Hermione said, grinning.

Charlie smiled. “That dragon was spotted over Poland. There’s a group from the Reservation tracking it, so you might be able to visit that one next summer, too.”

“Oh, I’m so glad it’s all right,” Hermione said. “The goblins treated it terribly cruelly.”

Charlie frowned. “I know. We’ve tried to offer compromises to them for years, but they won’t negotiate, and we don’t have any authority over them.”

“After Hogwarts, I plan on joining the Ministry and trying to change the way some things have ‘always been done,’” Hermione said, making little air quotes with her fingers. “Just because it’s the way it’s been done, doesn’t make it right.”

Ginny smiled fondly at Hermione’s passionate defense of an animal she’d been terrified of only a short time ago.

“I bet you will, Hermione. Why don’t you come for a visit, as well? You can get a first-hand look at what we do with these dragons,” Charlie offered.

“I’d like that,” Hermione said, smiling.

“Are you Apparating directly there?” Ginny asked.

“No, I’m stopping in Germany for a rest. It feels too much like a hangover if I go directly. Munich has a nice Apparition point with a little pub. There’s a girl that works the bar there that has great—” Charlie stopped abruptly, as if just realizing who he was talking to.

Both Hermione and Ginny grinned.

“Great what, Charlie?” Hermione asked innocently.

Charlie’s face colored. “Er… Great hands. She mixes my drinks just the way I like them,” he said.

“Uh-huh,” Ginny said, rolling her eyes. “Bill’s settled down now. You’ll be next on Mum’s mission list,” Ginny warned.

Charlie waved his hands. “Not me. I like my nomadic life, and you can’t do that with a family.”

“Aren’t you going to wait for Dad?” Ginny asked.

“I saw him before I left. Ron and George, too,” Charlie said before Ginny could ask. There was nothing for it. She had nothing left she could use to stall him.

“I suppose this is it then,” she said sorrowfully.

“Don’t be sad. I’ll be back at Christmas. You’ll be so busy at Hogwarts the time will just fly,” Charlie said bracingly.

Ginny wrapped her arms around him and hugged him fiercely. “Good bye, Charlie.” she said.

Charlie kissed her on the crown of her head. “Goodbye, squirt. Bye, Hermione,” he said, hugging her, as well. “Keep Ron on his toes. Make certain he treats you right, or I’ll come back and have something to say about it.”

Hermione’s cheeks colored, but Ginny thought she looked pleased. “I will, Charlie. Stay safe.”

With that, Charlie turned on the spot and was gone. Ginny’s couldn’t stop a sniffle, but she determinedly kept her eyes dry. She’d always prided herself on not being one of those girls who cried all the time, but lately she felt like a hosepipe.

“What do you say we go into Muggle London for lunch?” Hermione asked suddenly.

Ginny looked at her sharply. “What?”

“Come on, there’s no reason we can’t go out. I have some money, my treat. If we stay in Muggle London, no one will even recognize us,” Hermione reasoned.

Ginny knew Hermione was only doing it to cheer her up, but she had to admit, the idea was appealing. Ginny had never been in Muggle London on her own before, and it seemed a terribly grown-up thing to do.

“Do you think Mum’ll let me?” she wondered.

“Only one way to find out. Tell her it’s a place I’ve been to many times with my parents, and you’ll be with me the whole time,” Hermione said, her eyes shining.

Her mum did trust Hermione. Besides, even if she said no, Ginny knew plenty of ways to sneak out of The Burrow.

“Okay,” Ginny said. “I’ll do it. What should I wear?”

“Oh, let’s get dressed up a bit, shall we? A skirt and blouse I think should do it,” Hermione said excitedly. “Harry and Ron never like to dress up. We’ll have fun.”

“I have some lipstick hidden in the bottom of my desk,” Ginny whispered.

“Put in your pocket so your mum won’t see. We can put it on when we get there,” Hermione smiled, conspiratorially.

“Come on,” Ginny said, taking Hermione by the hand. She felt considerably lighter than she had in weeks. This would be fun.

******

Harry looked around the spotless kitchen of Grimmauld Place, still amazed it was the same room. The cooker gleamed when it caught the light streaming in from the unblemished window above the shiny sink. Kreacher had been by a few times to help him, but most of the labor and spell work had been done by Harry, and he was very proud of it.

For the first time in his life, he had his own home. A real home.

True, the only livable space was the kitchen, but it was a start.

He’d planned on working on a place to sleep next, but Ginny had been so distraught over the idea of him moving out of The Burrow. He thought he’d work on a living space first. If he cleaned and prepared the sitting room, at least there would be a place to hang out and socialize when he wasn’t working.

He’d put a Permanent Silencing Charm on Mrs. Black’s portrait, and Bill said he knew a spell that could construct another wall over her. It would narrow the entryway a bit, but Harry thought it was worth it.

George had moved back to his flat, and Charlie was going back to Romania. Harry thought Ginny wasn’t quite ready for him to leave, too. He knew Ron had been working on what was to be his bedroom, so Harry thought he’d go up and check on his progress before his friends arrived. Ron, Hermione and Ginny were all going to stop by and help him with some of the work. Harry was rubbish at picking colors, so he was happy to have the advice.

He pushed open the door to the room that had once belonged to Regulus Black, cringing slightly as he prepared to find it painted bright orange. He was pleasantly surprised to see Ron had chosen a more subdued color scheme. It was pained the color of a faded pair of blue jeans. Harry thought it was much better than the orange. Like the kitchen, there wasn’t any furniture yet, but it was clean and inviting.

The musty, heavy drapery that had covered the windows was gone, replaced with light, ivory curtains over each of the two windows. Harry assumed Hermione must have put them there, for it was something Ron would never have done himself.

Harry stared at the room, contemplating that thought. Hermione had chosen a room of her own, yet she hadn’t done anything with it. If she was helping Ron decorate his, did that mean… Harry didn’t know how far their relationship had progressed in Australia. To be honest, he wasn’t certain he really wanted to know details, but he was curious.

Ever since that morning Ginny had awoken him in Ron’s bedroom, Harry had been able to focus on little else. Stray thoughts kept popping into his mind at the most embarrassing moments. In fact, though his nightmares had been happening less frequently, they were replaced by other dreams that he didn’t want Ron to know about even more than he didn’t want him to know about the nightmares.

He shut the door to Ron’s room, and stared for a moment at the other closed door on the landing. Sirius’ room. He’d have to do something with it, but he’d yet to think of what.

The doorbell rang, distracting him. He ran down the steps and pulled the front door open to find Andromeda Tonks holding Teddy’s basket. She’d sent an owl telling him that she’d be stopping by.

“Hello, Harry. Here,” she said without preamble, handing him the basket holding his godson, who was sleeping peacefully. Harry was disappointed. He hated when Teddy slept during a visit. He could just see a tuft of light brown hair above the blanket. The color reminded Harry of Remus, and he wondered if Metamorphmagus changes disappeared when one was sleeping.

“Come on in, Mrs… er… Andi,” Harry said.

“Very good,” Andromeda said, smirking. The more time he spent with her, the more she reminded him of Sirius.

She took a long look around, frowning at the destruction.

“I haven’t been back here in years,” she said, her voice sounding slightly haunted.

“That’s what I wanted to talk to you about. There really isn’t much left that hasn’t been destroyed in some way, but go ahead and take anything that might mean something to you,” Harry offered. “The kitchen and Regulus’ room are the only two that have been renovated.”

“You really want to live here?” Andromeda asked doubtfully. She looked around her ancestral home in distaste.

Harry shrugged. “Well, I already own it, and if I can fix it up, it’ll be okay. Anyway, it was Sirius’ house,” Harry said. Even though Sirius hated it, Harry wasn’t certain he could ever sell that last link to his godfather. Even his Firebolt was gone; this house is what he had left.

“It’s not the things in your life that matter, it’s the people,” Andromeda said sadly. “Do whatever you can to hold onto those links, Harry.”

Harry didn’t know what she was talking about. All the links to his past were dead. “How do you mean?” he asked.

Andromeda shook her head. “Having the same blood isn’t the only way to have a family. Those Weasleys of yours adore you. Teddy will, too. Hang onto them.”

Harry felt warmth spread through his insides. The Weasleys had been trying to show him they included him for a long time. They didn’t seem to blame him for the loss of Fred at all. Teddy was his godson, and that counted as well as blood.

Unaware of Harry’s internal thoughts, Andromeda continued, “I, too, have family on Ted’s side of whom I’m very fond, but recently I’ve been contemplating my sister more and more.”

Harry frowned. He couldn’t understand what Bellatrix had to do with this. “But—”

“My living sister,” Andromeda clarified.

Harry had forgot that Narcissa Malfoy was also Andromeda’s kin… which meant Teddy and Draco Malfoy were related. His stomach turned at that thought. He didn’t think the snobbish, arrogant Malfoy would ever accept Teddy, and Harry wouldn’t allow his godson to be hurt.

“Wipe that frown off your face,” Andromeda said, amused. “I know what my sister and her family are like. Cissy and I are having lunch next week, just the two of us. I’m leaving Teddy with Kreacher. Cissy is the one link that is still there, and I feel a pull to at least try.”

Harry’s thoughts turned to Dudley for a moment. Not the bullying Dudley of his youth, but Dudley the way he’d been that last time at Privet Drive. Leaving him tea, and telling him that he didn’t think Harry was a waste of space. If Harry ever wanted to make an effort, there was one last link who could be called blood.

Harry just wasn’t certain if he wanted to make that effort.

Andromeda had shared a lot of her family issues with him, and he thought he could do as much. “I don’t get on with my Muggle relatives, either, but I don’t know if I want to try and change that.”

Andromeda stared out the window. It was grimy and smudged, so Harry wasn’t certain she could actually see anything outside.

“When I was young like you, I didn’t want any part of my family, either. It’s only now that I’m re-evaluating things. I have Teddy to consider, after all,” she said.

Harry wondered if she was accomplished at Legilimency. It wasn’t the first time she appeared to know what Harry was thinking.

“Do you think Mrs. Malfoy will be able to accept Teddy’s background?” he asked curiously. The Malfoys were prejudiced against both Muggles and werewolves, Teddy had the blood of both.

“I don’t know. I don’t know if we can even tolerate each other after all these years, but it won’t hurt to find out,” Andromeda said.

Harry shrugged.

“There’s nothing here I want, Harry. You do whatever you please with what remains. I hope you can make it a place where you’re happy. The house has lacked happiness for a very long time.”

“Perhaps it’s time for everything to change,” Harry said.

After Andromeda and Teddy left, Harry’s thoughts were muddled. One thought crystallized above all else, however. He’d need to prepare a room for Teddy. When the baby was older, he might like to spend a weekend or two with his godfather. That would’ve meant the world to Harry when he was young.

Suddenly, Harry knew exactly what he wanted to do. He thought Sirius would approve, as well. Bounding up the stairs, he pushed open the door to Sirius’s room, his mind already conjuring images of what he’d like. He’d hire Dean Thomas to paint a mural of a wolf, a stag, and a dog along one wall. Harry was always thrilled at any connection to his parents, and he imagined Teddy might feel the same. He could have the background be a forest that would change colors to represent Tonks.

Teddy would never have his parents, but Harry knew how much a connection could mean.

He walked toward the window, which looked out over the courtyard. As he pushed the musty drapes aside, a puff of dust enveloped him, causing him to cough and wave his arms about his head to dissipate it. He became alarmed when it didn’t clear, instead it seemed to settle on his skin and clothing. Harry’s throat began to close as he continued to choke.

Dropping to his knees, a second wave of powdery substance enveloped him. Harry began crawling towards the door. Something was wrong. He couldn’t breathe properly. His entire body was tingling. He wasn’t certain what was happening or what he’d stumbled upon, but he knew he had to get out of here quickly.

He made it as far as Sirius’s ruined bed. He tried to pull himself up, but it was no use. His vision dotted, and his skin felt as if it were peeling away. The blackness overtook him, and he knew no more.


Author's Note: Uh-oh — did I neglect to mention cliffy ahead? There’s about to be a bump in the plan…





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