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SIYE Time:22:56 on 27th May 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: 474
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: 76767; Chapter Total: 4061
Awards: View Trophy Room




Author's Notes:
Thank you all so much for the warm welcome back. I wondered how many old names would still be around, and I was happy to see I wasnít the only one who canít let go. I want to thank a few people who have helped along the way. First, to Sherylyn, beta extraordinaire. When I told her I was writing again, she immediately responded and told me to send it along as soon as I was ready. To George, my cheerleader and copy editor, who helps me to consolidate if I get to verbose. To Ryan, you all would have had this years ago if it were up to him. Thanks for the prodding in the right direction. And lastly, to Littleforest, one of my favorite writers, who has offered some invaluable Brit Pick service along with motivation. Much love and thanks to you all!




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Chapter Two
Echos


G inny awoke to bright sunlight streaming in from the window next to her dormitory bed. She rolled away and turned her head to the other side, but it was no use. It was too damn bright. Grudgingly opening her crusty eyes, she glanced around in confusion, trying to clear her groggy brain.

The curtains that usually shrouded her bed in tranquil darkness were wide open, letting the early morning sun flood over her. The brightness of the day seemed to mock the melancholy in Ginny’s heart. Memories of the previous evening flooded her brain, recalling having dinner in the common room with her family.

It had been the strangest dinner she could remember, one minute crying over the loss of Fred, the next minute rejoicing that the war had been won, then back to grieving for the losses. Only Harry and George hadn’t joined them, her parents had encouraged the others to let them sleep.

Sighing, Ginny pulled herself to a sitting position and blearily looked about her dormitory.
Hermione was asleep in the next bed. Ginny could see the bushy hair splayed across the pillow through a crack the curtains. Naturally, Hermione hadn’t forgotten to pull them closed.

On the other side of the dormitory, Liz and Siobhan’s curtains were shut tight as well. Both of them had fought and survived.

Ginny’s gaze returned to Hermione. Her friend was sleeping in what should have been Anna’s bed. Sweet, silly Anna who always had to have jokes explained to her. She’d been too slow to move out of the way of a curse early in the battle, as well.

A sob caught in Ginny’s throat, and she forced it down. She felt she’d done more crying already in the past two days than she’d done in years. Not since first year, anyway…

She supposed there was nothing for it and pulled herself out of bed, quietly taking some clothes from her wardrobe. Ginny had never been a morning person — a Weasley trait, no doubt — but she perked up at the thought that since Harry had slept right through dinner last night, he might be downstairs already.

Harry. He was finally free. And alive! He hadn’t really been dead, but her heart had thought so, and she couldn’t contain the rush of relief that flooded her body again. She wondered how he’d managed to fake his death convincingly enough to fool Voldemort, but it didn’t matter. There would be plenty of time for questions. For now, having him was enough.

She showered quickly and headed downstairs, hearing the smattering of voices as she skipped from step to step. Her brother’s angry outburst reached her as she neared the bottom.

“Don’t tell me to calm down. I want to know where he is right now.”

Ginny turned the corner to find an angry Ron, his face bright red, glaring at Charlie who had his arms on Ron’s shoulders.

Ginny was startled to realize Ron was several inches taller than Charlie, who had always seemed larger than life to a petite Ginny.

“What’s going on?” she asked, her gaze switching to and fro between them.

“Is Harry up there with you?” Ron demanded.

Charlie stared at Ron incredulously, his coloring darkening to match Ron’s. “Why would he be up there with her?” he demanded angrily.

Ignoring Charlie completely, she turned to Ron, perplexed. “You know boys can’t get into the girls’ dormitory,” she replied calmly. “Why? What’s wrong?”

“He’s not in his bed. I woke up and his bed is just… empty,” Ron said, swinging his arm wildly toward the boys’ staircase. Ginny could distinctly hear fear in his voice.

“He didn’t awaken last evening. He probably arose earlier than you, no?” Fleur asked calmly. Ginny hadn’t even noticed her sitting in one of the cushy chairs by the fire with Percy.

“Why do you think Harry would be in Ginny’s dormitory?” Charlie demanded again. “And why aren’t you more outraged by the idea?”

Ron and Ginny both ignored him.

“I didn’t hear him get up. I don’t know where he is,” Ron said through gritted teeth.

“It’s over Ron,” Percy said quietly. “He’s fine.”

“He is not fine,” Ron shouted, whirling on his newly reunited brother. “What would you know? You haven’t been here.”

Percy recoiled as everyone in the room inhaled sharply, even Ron, who looked torn between regret and indignation.

“What’s going on?” Hermione asked from the stairway. Still wearing her dressing gown, her hair impossibly mussed as if she’d just rolled out of bed, yet she tightly held her wand at the ready.

“I can’t find Harry,” Ron repeated, turning all his attention to her. “He wasn’t in his bed when I got up this morning.”

Ron’s distress was beginning to rattle Ginny.

“Did you check the Map?” Hermione asked reasonably, although her voice was rather shrill.

Of course! Ginny had become acquainted with Harry’s map of Hogwarts during her fifth year when they’d sought quiet corners to be alone. She wished she’d thought of it.

Ron obviously wished he’d thought of it too. He was staring at Hermione with a gob-smacked expression, his mouth opening and closing silently. “How could I? It’s in your bag,” he finally managed, spluttering.

Hermione turned and was about to sprint up the stairs when the portrait hole opened. Harry stumbled slightly as he climbed through, followed closely by Ginny’s dad.

“Where have you been?” Ron demanded immediately, taking a step toward Harry and causing the raven-haired boy to take a step back.

Ginny was struck by how exceedingly pale Harry was and the slight tremor in his hand. He blinked at Ron dazedly. His face and arms were littered with small scrapes, bruises and what looked like burns. She wondered if he knew where to find the Dittany that the rest of them had already applied.

“Easy, Ron,” her father said. He stepped up protectively beside Harry and rested a hand on his shoulder. “We were downstairs.”

Ron appeared to be having a hard time calming down. “You can’t just disappear like that, Harry!”

Harry blinked owlishly. “You were asleep.”

“That doesn’t matter! I woke up and you were gone!” Ron shouted.

“Ron,” Ginny said, “we’re all on edge, but you’re overreacting.” She was concerned by the paleness of Harry’s face. She could tell there was more going on than she understood, but she didn’t think Ron was helping. She moved closer to Harry, resting a hand on his arm.

“Overreacting? Overreacting? The last time he pulled a vanishing act on me he ended up dead!” Ron shouted, his eyes surprisingly bright.

Ginny felt Harry flinch violently.

Charlie moved forward and pulled Ginny away from Harry. “I want to know what’s going on here,” he said, taking a threatening step towards Harry. Charlie was used to getting what he wanted by physical intimidation.

Ginny didn’t even see Harry move, but he had his wand out so fast she would’ve bet he had a Time-Turner. She was alarmed to see how badly his hand was shaking. It was Ron, however, who went ballistic. Drawing his own wand, he cast a quick spell at Charlie that shoved him half-way across the room.

Charlie stared back at Ron, utterly amazed that his younger brother had got the drop on him.

“Ron!” her dad shouted.

“He died for her, you great blooming pillock,” Ron shouted, clearly enraged.

“Stop!” Hermione cried, reaching a shaking hand over to take Ron’s arm.

“That is enough, all of you,” her dad said in his sternest dad voice. The voice that let all of them know they’d crossed a line. All the Weasley children were cowed, lowering their eyes to the floor.

“What do you mean he died?” Ginny was the first to speak, her voice shaking. “He was just fooling Voldemort.”

Harry swayed on his feet, causing Mr. Weasley to grab his arm firmly. “Ginny,” Harry whispered, “I… ”

“There’s a lot we all want to know, but this is neither the time nor the place. I think Harry needs a little space. We all need some time to process everything that’s happened here,” her dad said, tiredly.

Before anyone could respond, the portrait hole opened again as Bill climbed inside. Noticing the tension in the room, his eyes raked over all of them before resting on his wife still sitting serenely by the fire.
“What’s happened?” he asked tensely.

“Nothing to worry about,” her father answered. “Everyone is a bit on edge. How’s The Burrow?”

“I reapplied the wards and did a bit of clean up. Still needs some work, but we can go home anytime. Where’s Mum?” Bill asked.

“Thankfully still asleep,” her dad replied, staring pointedly at both Ron and Charlie who immediately looked abashed.

“Harry, Kingsley is in the Headmaster’s office with Minerva. He’d like a word, if you have a moment,” Bill said. His brow furrowed slightly as he looked closely at the younger boy.

Harry nodded woodenly. His flat, listless eyes caught Ginny’s for a moment before he turned to go. Ginny watched her father grab Bill’s arm and whisper, “Go with him. I think he’s suffering a bit of Spell Shock.”

Bill nodded and followed Harry out the portrait hole.

“I want to go with Harry,” Ron said, stepping forward, Hermione immediately behind him.

“I want to talk to you all first,” her father said. “Please take a seat.” His tone didn’t leave any room for argument. Ron looked mutinous for a moment, but he turned and led Hermione back to one of the sofas. Ginny noticed he didn’t let go of her hand.

*****

Harry didn’t quite recall how he arrived in the familiar circular office, but he found himself sitting on a comfortable chair sipping a cup of tea that Professor McGonagall had pressed into his hands. The room had come into sharper focus, and he suspected there was more than just Darjeeling in the tea.

Bill Weasley and Kingsley Shacklebolt sat in similar chairs so they formed a small semi-circle in front of the ornate desk where Professor Dumbledore used to sit. Professor McGonagall now occupied that spot.
Harry glanced up at Professor Dumbledore’s portrait. His eyes were shut, and he appeared to be sleeping.

“How are you, Harry?” Kingsley’s rich baritone voice filled the room, drawing Harry’s attention back to the living.

“I’m fine,” Harry replied automatically. “Err… why am I here?”

“I’m not certain if you’ve heard the news, but I’ve been appointed Acting Minister during the reconstruction. The Ministry is in such disarray that it will take some time to get everything all straightened out,” Kingsley replied.

The bright morning sun streamed light between the trees in the forest, shining through the window and causing Kingsley’s gold earring to sparkle.

“Oh. Er, congratulations,” Harry wasn’t certain what to say, and he was suddenly feeling very wrong-footed. “That’s good, isn’t it?”

The Acting Minister nodded before continuing. “There is much that needs to be done, Harry, and I’m hoping to take advantage of this time and make some long overdue changes. At some point, we’re going to want to have a discussion with you about exactly what went on this past year, but for now, there a few things I’d like to discuss that just can’t wait.”

Harry felt a prickle of apprehension go down his spine. He didn’t know what was wrong with him, but knew he wasn’t on top of his game.

“Such as?” he asked warily.

Kingsley’s dark eyes met Harry’s green, “There were a lot of things said between you and Voldemort during the Battle, but there was one thing at the beginning of your conversation that caught my attention. You mentioned a Horcrux.”

Harry nodded slowly, chewing on his lip. Despite whatever calming element had been in the tea, Harry felt his heart rate increasing again. How much did he want to share? He noticed Kingsley hadn’t flinched when he said ‘Voldemort,’ and thought that, in itself, was an improvement.

“I don’t think most of the people here would’ve caught it. Too much happened afterwards, and there aren’t many who know what a Horcrux is,” Kingsley said. His deep voice was soothing, but his eyes remained intent and probing.

Harry licked his suddenly dry lips. “But-,” his voice cracked, and he had to start again, “But you know what they are?”

“I do. Even amongst the Aurors, it’s rarely discussed, but I once worked on a case in my younger days, and I remember. The case ended up not involving a Horcrux, but I learned about them.”

Harry nodded again. It’s not like it was something you’d ever forget. “Voldemort had se… six of them,” he replied, deciding at the last minute to keep the details of the seventh Horcrux quiet for now. In the eyes of the wizarding world, he was the hero at the moment, but he knew how quickly that could turn. Look what had happened when people learned he could speak to snakes. If they found out he’d always been harboring a piece of Voldemort’s soul… that it had lived inside of him…

Harry must have paled because Professor McGonagall suddenly stood up and refilled his tea cup. “Are you all right, Harry?” she asked, and Harry was unused to the gentleness of her tone.

Six of them?” Kingsley repeated, stunned.

“What’s a Horcrux?” Bill asked.

“I’d like to know that myself,” said McGonagall, eyeing Harry closely as she retook her seat.

“Whatever we discuss doesn’t leave this room,” Kingsley said sternly. “I need to know how to proceed, but I don’t want anything about this getting out.”

“Naturally,” McGonagall replied huffily, drawing herself up in indignation.

Bill nodded, his eyes bright with curiosity.

“A Horcrux is the Darkest of all magic. It involves storing a piece of your soul in another object, ensuring the wizard can’t die,” Kingsley replied.

“Storing your soul?” McGonagall cried.

Bill’s eyes looked sharply up at Harry’s scar. “Is that how… ”

“Yes,” Harry replied curtly.

“I’ve never heard of this magic,” McGonagall said warily. “Where did you learn of it, Harry?”

“Professor Dumbledore told me,” Harry said, glancing again at the sleeping portrait. “He had all references about them removed from the library.”

“But how do you store your soul?” Bill asked, still trying to puzzle it out.

“It’s not the entire soul, but a piece of it, broken off by the act of murder,” Kingsley said softly.

Professor McGonagall shuddered, her hands clasped against her chest in horror.

“And you said Voldemort had six of them?” Bill asked, looking a bit green.

“Yes. Harry said, feeling slightly queasy himself. “During my sixth year, Professor Dumbledore began giving me some private lessons, sharing all he knew about Voldemort. He explained about Horcruxes. The first one he’d discovered had been the diary that helped to open the Chamber of Secrets in my second year.”

Bill looked up sharply, meeting Harry’s steady gaze. “The diary you destroyed?” he asked.

“Yes,” Harry whispered, clearing his throat again. “Dumbledore suspected there might be more since Voldemort hadn’t gone to any great lengths to protect that one. He found the second, a ring that had once belonged to Salazar Slytherin. That’s how he hurt his hand.”

His rapt audience nodded as recognition shown in all their eyes.

“The night he died, we had gone to seek another, but we failed,” Harry said, his heart clenching at the memory of that awful night.

“So Professor Dumbledore died after finding only two of the Horcruxes,” Kingsley said slowly.

Harry nodded, “But he’d puzzled out what he thought the others might be, just not where to find them. He didn’t know what one item was, but he suspected it was something that belonged to either Ravenclaw or Gryffindor. There was a locket that had also once belonged to Slytherin and a cup that had belonged to Helga Hufflepuff, and his snake, Nagini.”

“His snake?” Bill asked. “So a Horcrux can be a living thing?”

Harry shifted uncomfortably, feeling very unclean. He couldn’t manage to get his voice to work properly so he only nodded.

“That really didn’t leave you a lot to work with,” Kingsley said, staring at Harry intently. “Is that what you were doing all year… tracking these items down?”

“Yes,” Harry choked. He took a gulp of the tea and once again felt his nerves calming. “We found the locket at the Ministry. Dolores Umbridge had it.”

“Umbridge?” Kingsley asked. “She’s in custody already.”
“Good,” Harry snarled.
“Do you think she knew what it was?” he asked.
Harry shook his head slowly. “No. I think she was nasty enough all on her own that the Horcrux wouldn’t have affected her much.”

“Naturally we’d heard about your appearance at the Ministry,” McGonagall said.

“The cup was in Bellatrix Lestrange’s vault at Gringotts. After we found that one, Voldemort knew we were hunting Horcruxes,” Harry said, “and we knew we were running out of time.”

Despite the seriousness of the conversation, Bill grinned. “You didn’t seriously ride a dragon out of there.”

“Yeah, we seriously did,” Harry said, nodding.

“The goblins are in a state over the break in. It hasn’t happened before, and they’re enraged by it,” Bill said.

Harry had forgotten Bill worked for Gringotts, too. “It had to be done. We found the snake and Ravenclaw’s diadem at Hogwarts. Once they were destroyed, he was mortal.”

“And you’re certain you found them all?” Bill asked.

“Yes,” Kingsley replied before Harry had to say anything. “Otherwise, he wouldn’t have died. He would’ve just disappeared like the last time. His body remains downstairs. That’s another question I had for you. What would you like to see done with it?”

“Me?” Harry asked once he realized Kingsley was staring at him awaiting an answer. “I dunno. I don’t want it!”

“No one was suggesting you would, Harry,” McGonagall said gently.

“No,” Kingsley said. His voice was also surprisingly gentle. “I wondered if you had any suggestion on where he should be buried. I don’t want anywhere public where it could become a rallying point for any stray Death Eaters.”

Harry nodded, feeling shaken. “Bury him in the Muggle cemetery with his father. He would’ve hated that.”

Kingsley and Bill both nodded thoughtfully. “Done,” Kingsley said. “He’ll be buried in an unmarked grave in Little Hangleton.”

“Do we have a count on stray Death Eaters?” Bill asked, rubbing his hand along his heavily scarred face.
“Not yet,” Kingsley sighed. “At the Ministry, they’re still sorting through who was and wasn’t involved. There are bodies here at Hogwarts, and several who were taken into custody after Voldemort fell. We’re going to have to put together a list of who’s missing after that. I could use your help with that, too, Harry.”

Harry nodded absently. “Professor Snape’s body is in the Shrieking Shack. It needs to be retrieved.”

“Severus really was on our side all along,” Professor McGonagall asked shakily.

“He really was,” Harry nodded, not certain how he felt about Professor Snape at the moment. He was so confused.

Kingsley appeared to notice his fatigue. “We have plenty of time to talk, Harry. I know the Auror Department Head, Gawain Robards, will want to speak with you eventually. We’ll have to decide exactly how much we want to reveal in the interest of public safety, but that can all be done at a later date. You deserve some time to relax and recover.”

“What about the school?” Professor McGonagall asked. “It’s too unstable here to continue with the term, but I want to be able to start on time in September. I plan on offering all the seventh-years the chance to return and sit their NEWTs next year.”

Harry managed a weak smile. “Hermione will be pleased.”

Kingsley nodded. “I think you should send the remaining students home. I’ll see to putting a reconstruction team together. Harry, you don’t have to answer now, but the Auror division is in shambles. I don’t have the luxury of waiting three years to replenish the ranks, so after you’ve had a break and get your thoughts together, I’d love to have you join us.”

Harry was stunned. He’d always wanted to be an Auror, it was the only thing he’d ever wanted to be. Up until two days ago, he really hadn’t believed he’d have a future, however. Was that still what he wanted?

“Do you really have the Elder Wand?” Bill asked suddenly, startling Harry.

“Yeah,” he said, removing the wand from his pocket. “That reminds me. I could use some help.”

“I can’t believe it’s actually real,” Bill said, examining the wand closely.

“Anything you need, Harry,” Kingsley replied without question.

“I want to bury this back with Professor Dumbledore. It’s where it belongs. Will you help me set the wards afterwards?” Harry asked, feeling the sooner this wand was buried the better. Bill had that same amazed look in his eye that he’d seen in Ron.

“I think that would be a good idea. We’ll do it now before you head back to The Burrow and join the others with Bill. I think everyone is eager to just go home,” Kingsley said. “Is there anything else you need?”

Home.

“Uhm … there is one other thing I could use some help with… ” Harry replied.

*****

Ron dropped his rucksack and looked around at the bright orange walls of his childhood bedroom. It felt as if it had been years since he’d been in this room. Another lifetime, really. He sank down on his bed and absently watched the Cannons tossing a Quaffle in a poster on his wall.

His dad had arranged a Portkey to bring them all back to The Burrow after the scene in the common room. Bill and Harry were still at Hogwarts, and Ron couldn’t shake the uneasy feeling he had leaving them behind. Ron wanted all his family where he could see them.

His mum and George had come down to the common room after the commotion had ended, both of them looking gaunt and pale. His dad had berated the rest of the family that Mum and George didn’t need to see that. Ron hated seeing the desolation in his mother’s eyes, and the complete lack of animation in his usually jubilant brother. Ron didn’t know how to fix this.

He couldn’t imagine moving on without Fred. Fred was always just there. Always teasing, always joking, always taking the mickey… Nothing ever would be the same. How could you have George without Fred? They were a unit… a matched set.

Ron sniffled and wiped at his eyes, the constriction in his throat nearly choking him.

He looked up as his door swung open. Charlie stood there hesitantly, the burn scars on his arm standing out against his pale, freckled skin. Ron’s mind drifted back to a childhood memory of an enraged Charlie bursting through the door looking for the twins who had hidden his broomstick. Charlie, who was about to enter his second year at Hogwarts, was determined to try out for Quidditch, and they were moments from having to leave to catch the Express.

“Hey,” Ron said, breaking the awkward silence. “Sorry I jinxed you. I tend to act before thinking these days. It’s how we stayed alive these past months.”

Charlie shrugged and entered the room, taking a seat on Harry’s bed. “I was surprised you could, honestly. I forget you’re not still a kid.”

“I don’t think any of us have been kids for a very long time,” Ron said, images of the past year flashing in front of his eyes.

“I should’ve been here,” Charlie said suddenly. “I mean… I recruited for the Order from abroad, but… you were all so much closer to the thick of it than I was. Even Ginny, at Hogwarts.”

“Oh, drop it with the guilt, Charlie,” Ron sighed. “I get enough of that from Harry. None of this is anyone’s fault but Voldemort’s.”

Charlie’s eyebrows rose. “I haven’t quite managed that comfort level with saying the name.”

Ron shrugged. “He’s dead now.” He paused for a moment before adding, “It took me a long while, much longer than Hermione and Harry.”

Ron cringed. Both Hermione and Harry had seen a lot of things more clearly than he had.

“I’m bunking in with the twi-… with George,” Charlie said suddenly. “I don’t think he ought to be alone.”

“That’s probably a good idea. Where is he?” Ron asked.

“He’s resting. Mum, too. She took one look at me sitting on Fred’s bed, and she burst into tears.”

Ron winced. “How about Hermione and Ginny?”

“They’re downstairs helping Dad and Perc
y with some funeral arrangements,” Charlie said heavily.

Ron leaped off the bed and began to pace in the cramped room, unable to sit still. “It’s going to be awful.”

“Yeah,” Charlie replied. “The next few days will be nothing but funerals, but Fred’s… I can’t believe he’s gone.”

“I keep expecting to hear a bang or an explosion. The Burrow has never been this quiet,” Ron said, that painful lump back in his throat.

“What do you think about Percy coming back?” Charlie asked, watching Ron closely.

“I dunno. We get one brother back right when we lose another,” Ron’s voice cracked, and he had to take a deep breath. He’d been so angry at Percy for so long. If he was honest-

He stopped that thought short, guilt washing over him. “I haven’t really had time to think about it.”

“What’s up with you and Hermione?” Charlie asked suddenly, changing the subject as he always did when he was uncomfortable. “Finally asked her out, did you?”

“What? What do you mean finally?” Ron asked, bemused. “What do you know about it?”

“I saw you mooning over her at Bill’s wedding,” Charlie, ever the older brother, said teasingly. “Pathetic.”

“I was an idiot,” Ron replied.

“Yeah,” Charlie agreed easily. “So… our sister and the Chosen One, huh? That takes some getting used to.”

Ron shrugged. “It does, but… they’re good for each other.”

“What did you mean when you said he’d died for her?” Charlie asked the question that had obviously been plaguing him.

“Died for all of us, really,” Ron said in a low voice, still trying to wrap his mind around the sacrifice his friend had made.

“He was really dead?” Charlie asked skeptically.

“Get a good look at his chest if you don’t believe me,” Ron snapped before taking a breath. “Charlie, it’s his story to tell, and I don’t think he’s ready to tell it.”

Charlie frowned, perplexed “You think they’re good together?”

“Look… I gave him a bit of a hard time, but I know he cares. He has this Map of Hogwarts that marks where everyone is, you know? I used to catch him watching Ginny a lot at night when he didn’t know anyone was looking. He broke it off with her to protect her, and she wasn’t at all happy about it. Now they deserve a chance.”

Ron wasn’t sure if he was convincing Charlie or himself, but he knew the words were true as soon as he said them. Maybe finally being with Hermione was making him soft.

“Mum sure likes him,” Charlie said.

Ron nodded. “Yeah, with all that fame and glory, he could be such a… such a Malfoy,” Ron said unable to think of anything worse, “but he’s not. He’s a good bloke, and he’ll always take care of our sister. If she’s got to be with anyone, I want it to be him.”

“What do you think the Minister is talking about with them?” Charlie asked.

Ron shook his head, “I can’t believe we’re on a first name basis with the Minister for Magic. He and Dad used to sneak off into the study to share some brandy when we stayed at Grimmauld Place.”

Charlie shrugged. “I really don’t know him, but Bill thinks highly of him. I wonder what they’re doing. Bill doesn’t work for the Ministry.”

“Maybe it’s something to do with Gringotts,” Ron said, growing alarmed. “I hope Harry’s not in trouble for our break-in.”

“That was true?” Charlie asked, astonished. “The dragon and everything?”
“Yeah,” Ron said, grinning. “I couldn’t believe when Harry jumped on its back and told us to follow. I thought we were goners.”

“What happened to it?” Charlie asked, his concern obvious.

“Dunno. We jumped off over a lake. Reckoned it was better than letting it land since it might be hungry.”

“Good plan,” Charlie agreed fervently. “Blimey! I’ve never even ridden a dragon.”

“I hope I never do again.”

“I don’t think Harry will be in trouble. Bill and Kingsley will work it out,” Charlie said bracingly.

“I suppose,” Ron replied. “Honestly, who’s going to hold a grudge against Harry now?”




*In Deathly Hallows, it was Harry who jumped on the dragon first while Hermione had to be convinced. I’m aware the movie changed it, but the movies often gave everyone else’s best moments to Hermione. Books rule.

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