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SIYE Time:9:52 on 18th May 2024
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Summer of Recovery
By PotterSloth

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Category: Post-DH/AB
Characters:Harry/Ginny, Hermione Granger, Ron Weasley, Teddy Lupin
Genres: General, Romance
Warnings: Mild Language, Mild Sexual Situations, Negative Alcohol Use
Rating: R
Reviews: 74
Summary: What comes after Voldemort’s defeat? A very, very difficult summer. The world moves on, and it’s much different than it was when Harry and Ginny first got together. The summer will be one of grief, but they’re ready to recover together after so long apart. The only question is: will the world finally let them?
Hitcount: Story Total: 6911; Chapter Total: 244
Awards: View Trophy Room






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Walking towards the garden were her five brothers and Harry, carrying a large box between them.

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Ginny woke to an unfamiliar realisation. Harry was still in her bed. She slowly rolled over and saw that the first traces of sunlight had just begun to enter her room. Harry wasn't late getting out of bed; she'd just woken up early, much earlier than usual. She stared up at the peaceful expression on his face. There weren't any wrinkles of concern on his forehead, no furrow in his eyebrows, and he was smiling slightly, like he was in the middle of a good dream. It was rare to see Harry like this; he'd been fighting for his life as long as Ginny had known him. Pretty much the only time all the worry left his face when he was awake was when they were alone together. He usually did a good job hiding it the rest of the time, but she could always tell when something was bothering him, a nagging thought or fear in the back of his mind that prevented him from fully releasing his worry. One day, she hoped, his concerned and worried state would be much less common than his relaxed and happy state.

Unfortunately, today wasn't going to be that day. Even as she admired every inch she could see of Harry, her mind was pulling her downstairs, knowing that there was no escaping what they were all about to have to face. She nestled her head into Harry's chest, relishing the warm feeling of him holding her tightly while he slept, wishing that security was enough to protect her from the sadness that was already invading her mind.

As if on cue, Harry's eyes fluttered open and he shifted slightly, causing Ginny to look up at him. "Morning," she whispered. He responded by kissing her forehead, cheek, nose, and lips. He looked into her eyes and she saw that his relaxed expression was already fading slightly with the knowledge of what today was. The thirteenth of May, the day they said goodbye to Fred.

Christmas was Ginny's favourite time of year. There was a lot of really good food, and some fun songs, and, most importantly, presents. It was just perfect.

So it just wasn't fair that Great Aunt Muriel was ruining it all. Every Christmas, she showed up just after they'd opened their presents, demanding that they spend time with her because, as she said, "I'm ninety-seven years old. This could be the last time you ever have the chance to celebrate Christmas with me!"

She also kept talking about something called a will that was apparently going to make everyone love her when she was dead. The only problem was that Great Aunt Muriel was so old and hadn't died yet, so Ginny was pretty sure that she wasn't ever going to die.

Today, on Christmas of all days, Great Aunt Muriel had decided to tell Ginny that she needed to start brushing her hair more if she ever wanted to marry a nice boy. It wasn't very nice of her aunt to laugh when Ginny assured her that she was going to marry Harry Potter. Even Charlie didn't laugh at that, and he usually did when she talked about Harry.

Her mum did pat her leg under the table, like that was supposed to make Ginny feel better. Great Aunt Muriel was just mean. Ginny was going to marry Harry, whether her aunt believed it or not.

Ginny decided it was best to focus on eating and try to avoid listening to anything her aunt said. That was easier to do than she thought it would be. Her mum was a great cook, and she really did her best work at Christmas. Plus, the table was filled with other conversations, although they were hushed because Great Aunt Muriel didn't think the dinner table was a place for conversation unless she started it.

Ginny was tucking into a delicious mince pie towards the end of the meal when she noticed Fred and George snickering at the far end of the table. She tried to figure out what they were laughing about, but she couldn't think of what it could be. Probably something to do with Percy. They loved playing pranks on him.

She was about to take another bite of her mince pie when there was a loud booming sound that came from near Great Aunt Muriel. Fred and George were openly laughing at this point, and her dad got up to investigate the source of the noise before reeling backwards, almost stumbling as he scrambled away from it.

A second later, Ginny smelled it- possibly the foulest stench she'd ever had the misfortune of smelling in her life. The only thing she could think of that could possibly come close to its smell was the time she and Ron had stolen a pumpkin out of the garden to carve for Halloween. They'd hid it in the attic with the ghoul because they didn't want their mum to know they'd taken one of her pumpkins, and then they forgot about it for a couple months until Ron started smelling something funny upstairs and their dad had found the rotting pumpkin. But this smell was still worse than that.

And worst of all, the smell seemed to have latched on to Great Aunt Muriel. She practically flew out of her chair, a pretty impressive feat for someone as old as her, and hurried out the back door. She was dusting off her clothes as if that would get the stench off her.

Ginny and the rest of the family followed, mostly to get away from the smell inside, but it wasn't much better out here. It was almost like Great Aunt Muriel had been the source of the smell, which made Ginny inadvertently start giggling because she thought the only way that her aunt could've made that smell was by passing quite a bit of gas.

"You! Did you do this to me?" Great Aunt Muriel screeched at her, but Fred and George quickly stepped in front of her.

"It was us," Fred declared proudly.

"You! You foul, wretched boys with no respect for-"

"You should take a bath. The smell gets worse the longer it goes without being cleaned off," George offered helpfully.

"Insolent children! You'll see that all this mischief only gets you removed from my will! Disgusting!"

With a pop, Great Aunt Muriel vanished, and Fred and George fell over each other laughing as Bill and Charlie tried not to look impressed. Ron and Ginny exchanged impressed grins. Their brothers had just saved Christmas. They were heroes. Everyone thought so. Well, except her mum, whose face was much redder than the Gryffindor scarf Percy had received this morning.

HGHGHGHGHGHGHGHGHGHG HGHG

"How long have you been awake?" Harry asked, surprised that she'd woken up before him.

"A few minutes," Ginny responded quietly. "I don't think I'm gonna get any more sleep though."

Harry nodded, understanding the feeling. With great effort, he sat up, pulling Ginny with him. "Let's go for a walk," he suggested. Ginny agreed by standing up, and he quickly followed her to the door. They walked downstairs and out the back door of the house, heading for the orchard. Both of them were wearing what they slept in, but it was so early in the morning that they weren't worried about anyone seeing them.

He didn't know why, but he felt compelled to tell Ginny everything now. The only thing holding him back was knowing how hard it would be for her to hear. It felt unfair to burden her with more right before they buried her brother. Death was a difficult thing to deal with already, without the complexities of Harry's story on top of that.

"What?" Ginny asked, and Harry realised he hadn't moved since they got on the porch, still looking at her.

He shook his head as if waking up. "Just thinking," he answered, starting to walk with her towards the orchard.

"What were you thinking about?"

Harry answered instinctively with something that wasn't entirely untrue. "Something Dumbledore told me once. He said that to the well organised mind, death is but the next great adventure."

Ginny smiled softly. "Do you really think Fred's mind was well organised?"

Harry chuckled. "Probably not. But Fred always was one for a wild adventure, wasn't he?" She nodded quietly, still smiling a little, obviously remembering her brother.

Harry continued, wary of this backfiring on him. "Dumbledore also told me, a different time, not to pity the dead, but to pity the living, and above all, those who live without love."

Ginny's lip trembled. "Fred was loved."

"He still is," Harry whispered, pulling her close to him. Every fibre in his being screamed at him to confess what he'd been wanting to for a week or more. The only thing holding him back was a sense that this wasn't the right time, even though he had no clue how he'd know when the right time was.

Before he could make a decision, Ginny made it for him, wiping her eyes and leaning back to ask, "When did you and Dumbledore have all these talks about death?"

Harry shrugged, knowing he couldn't completely answer that. "Over the years. When I found the Philosopher's Stone, after Cedric died, after Sirius died, a lot my sixth year…" he trailed off, unable to tell her that Dumbledore had told him that last thing in King's Cross a week and a half ago while Harry had been dead.

She reached up to run a hand through his hair. "I don't know how you do it."

Harry felt himself reddening slightly. "They're Dumbledore's words; I just remembered them."

Ginny shook her head, inching closer to him. "Dumbledore's not the one who's helping me get through everything, Harry." She pulled his head down, meeting him for a soft kiss that left Harry speechless. There was no urgency or passion in that quick kiss, but it felt just as powerful as the hungriest of kisses they'd shared. It was so powerful in its intimacy, trust, and care that it stunned Harry. It was over in an instant, but Harry still blinked a few times to recover. When he looked down, Ginny was smiling sweetly at him before her eyes darted behind him, back towards the house.

HGHGHGHGHGHGHGHGHGH GHGHG

"We have company," Ginny said, nodding towards her older brothers standing on the porch. They walked slowly back up to the house, still holding hands even under the watchful eye of Bill and Charlie.

"What's got you two up so early?" Charlie asked when they got within earshot.

"Couldn't fall back asleep after I woke up," Ginny answered.

"Same," Harry agreed. Charlie's eyes narrowed slightly but he nodded, and Ginny was grateful that he'd decided not to push the questioning today.

"How are you doing?" Bill asked, and she realised he was asking both of them.

Harry answered first. "Not great, but it's easier with…" he didn't need to finish that sentence as he turned to look at her, making her smile a little, even considering the circumstances.

She nodded and squeezed Harry's hand. "Ditto."

Bill also nodded slightly and smiled at their answer. For his part, Charlie at least didn't say anything even though his eyes remained narrowed. "We've got about three hours," Bill said quietly. That brought them all back to the time at hand. They didn't need to say anything else. The four of them sat on the porch together until they heard movement inside their house.

Opening the door, Ginny saw that the kitchen table had been filled with everyone else inside except George. Her mum and dad, Ron, Hermione, Percy, and Fleur were all seated, imitating the silence of the four of them who had just come inside. They sat there for a while before returning to their rooms to change into their clothes for the funeral.

People started arriving about thirty minutes before the funeral was scheduled to start. Ginny went with her parents outside, kissing Harry gently goodbye, to greet them. The boys were all staying inside until the funeral actually began.

She did her best to be present, thanking people for coming, but most of it was a whirlwind of faces. Former Gryffindor Quidditch players, classmates, Diagon Alley tenants, the remaining Order of the Phoenix. She got in the rhythm of pressing her lips together in something that could've been a smile and nodding her head as each person passed, but the facade was tough to keep up anytime someone passed that brought back a particularly notable memory of Fred.

Oliver Wood walked past, and Ginny was reminded of watching her brother playing Beater, high on a broomstick. Kingsley walked by, and Ginny remembered eavesdropping on Order meetings with Fred's Extendable Ears. When Hermione stood next to her, Ginny was reminded of Fred and George hiring testers for their products under Hermione's nose as prefect. It had annoyed her, but Ginny knew that she loved the twins as much as the rest of them. The tears swimming in her eyes were proof of that. Hermione took Ginny's hand in hers, and they stood together, greeting the rest of the mourners.

HGHGHGHGHGHGHGHG HGHGHGHG

After Harry changed into his black dress robes, he returned downstairs in time for Ginny to kiss him quickly before she left with everyone except the six pallbearers. George had come downstairs, and they all sat quietly in the living room, wearing different variations of the same sorrowful expressions on their faces. Harry could sense it was almost time, and Bill stood up.

"Don't tell Mum about this," Bill warned before summoning a bottle of firewhisky and six small glasses from the kitchen. Harry watched as Bill poured each of them glasses, passing them out. They all stood in a close circle, and somehow, without any planning, they all knew what to do.

Bill raised his glass. "He always wanted to make other people happy."

Charlie raised his own, adding, "He was the funniest bloke I ever knew."

Percy followed. "Everyone loved him, even if they'd just met him."

Ron continued. "I wanted to be just like him when I got to Hogwarts."

It was Harry's turn. There were so many things he wanted to say, but the one common thread was the realisation he'd had yesterday after a lot of prodding from the rest of the family. He lifted his glass. "Fred was my brother."

Ron put his arm around Harry's shoulders and they all looked at George, who looked simultaneously broken and fired up. He brought his glass up to join the other five. "He was the best part of me."

The six of them clinked their glasses together before quickly drinking their firewhisky. Harry's throat burned, but the heat in his stomach that accompanied it somehow soothed him. He wasn't ever going to be more ready to do this. Looking around, he saw five similarly steely faces with soft eyes, as prepared as they could ever be to say goodbye to their brother.

HGHGHGHGHGHGHGHGH GHGHGHG

Ginny was seated with her parents, Hermione, and Fleur. She wished she could be with Harry, but she knew that they were both where they were supposed to be right now. Tears were freely streaming down all five of their faces, and Ginny let her mother hold her as tightly as she wanted, wishing that did something to ease her pain.

The crowd that was gathered by the garden was already relatively quiet, but they fell completely silent all of a sudden, and turning, Ginny saw why. Walking towards the garden were her five brothers and Harry, carrying a large box between them. Ginny felt a chill wash over her as her mother broke out in a fresh wave of sobs. Seeking some sort of comfort, she looked at Harry. His face was emotionless, but she could tell, even from a distance, that his eyes were much darker than usual, struggling to maintain his composure as they all walked towards Fred's final resting place.

The six of them walked slowly up the aisle, and Ginny finally felt another sob releasing itself as they passed her spot in the front row. She felt her heart drop as they set Fred's casket down beside the large hole in the ground in front of everyone. Ginny was grateful when Hermione and Fleur both moved over to make room for Bill, Ron, and Harry next to them. Without saying a word, Harry took her hand and kissed it softly as tears started pouring down his face.

Kingsley stood up at the podium that had been placed by the grave. Somehow, unlike every other funeral she'd been to so far, Ginny was able to hear every word that Kingsley said.

"Fred Weasley was a brilliant wizard, a compassionate protector, a devoted friend, and a selfless brother. He died a hero, but he lived like one too. I was lucky enough to know him for the past three years, and I consider my interactions with him to be some of my best memories of that time. Fred was unlike almost anybody I'd ever met before. He was a force of nature with an uncommon ability to make people smile and laugh without fail, no matter the circumstance. Fred saw the value in protecting the right to laughter and happiness. It's what made him such a great friend and brother. But there's somebody else who should tell you more about that."

Kingsley stepped aside, and Bill stood up to take his place at the podium. He cleared his throat and began speaking. "I'm Bill Weasley. I'm the oldest out of all my siblings, and I was the one nominated to speak about Fred on all of our behalf. So this really comes from all of his siblings- myself, Charlie, Percy, George, Ron, Ginny, Harry, and Hermione." Ginny glanced over and saw that both Harry and Hermione had a proud look on their face even though they both were crying.

Bill continued, "Fred was one of the only people I ever knew who actually lived life to the fullest. I think everyone makes it a goal to seize the day or not waste a moment, but Fred actually lived like that. From a young age, it was clear that Fred and George were unlike any of my other siblings. They were fascinated by everything, and they couldn't ever stay still. I remember fetching them out of trees when they were three years old and had been so curious about what was at the top but had no idea how to get down. As they got older, they got better about thinking things through. When I was sixteen, I received my Head Boy badge from school. The first time I looked away from it, they nicked it, and it took me two weeks to find it- in my school trunk, as I was furiously packing the night before term started. I was so mad at first, but as I was sitting on the Hogwarts Express the next day, I started laughing, thinking how brilliant and harmless it was that they'd hidden it somewhere I'd have to see before I needed it.

"Fred never put much stock in grades or homework. His mind was always focused on more important things, like how he could use whatever he'd learned in class to make people smile rather than how he could write an essay about it. Fred always saw the bright side of things. The only times I ever saw him really mad was when he was beating the hell out of a Bludger in a Quidditch match."

Ginny laughed through her tears with everyone else, remembering the fierce look of determination on her brother's face as he connected with a Bludger, saving one of his teammates or, occasionally, hitting one at her.

"You're gonna get your head taken off!"

Ginny spun around on her broom, surprised to hear her brother screaming at her from the pitch. Perplexed and slightly annoyed, she descended to the ground, leaving the Snitch somewhere in the air for now.

"What?" Ginny asked as she landed next to Fred, who looked even more annoyed than she felt.

"You're gonna get your head taken off, flying like that."

"Catching the Snitch, you mean."

He shook his head. "Catching the Snitch is great, but if you're so focussed on looking around and fancy flying that you forget to keep your head on a swivel, a Bludger's gonna knock you out cold."

Ginny looked back up at the sky, wondering what he was talking about. "There isn't even a Bludger out right now. I was just getting some practice in."

"You practise what you do in a match. If you're not practising being alert, you're not gonna be alert in a match. Last thing Gryffindor needs is to lose another Seeker this season. Listen, I know you've never played Quidditch before, but I know what I'm talking about."

Ginny crossed her arms. "I'm doing fine."

"Fine," Fred replied. "Then let's get a Bludger out and see how well you do."

"Fine," Ginny retorted creatively, determined to prove her brother wrong.

She flew back up in the air as Fred released a Bludger from the ball crate. She had the advantage of not having any other distractions beyond the Snitch, but the problem was that she also didn't have any Beaters protecting her, and the Bludger didn't have any targets other than her.

"Good luck," Fred called sarcastically, watching as she started looking for the Snitch.

It was much harder than she'd expected, searching for the tiny golden ball while keeping an eye on the Bludger. She expected it would be even more difficult when there was one more Bludger and thirteen more players in the air with her. All she could do was avoid the Bludger at all costs, ducking, dodging, and diving to get out of the way, and it took forever to find the Snitch.

When she did finally find the Snitch, it took twice as long as it should've to catch it because she had to keep checking on the Bludger. Finally, she managed to grab it before barely rolling out of the path of the Bludger and dropping to the ground.

Fred was grinning, even after he caught the Bludger and wrestled it back into the crate. "Not bad. A bit slow, but you survived. Not as easy as you thought, huh?"

Ginny kicked at the ground, not wanting to give him the satisfaction of saying he was right.

"Yeah, that's what I thought. In a match, you'll have Beaters trying to protect you, but there's also gonna be Beaters targeting you, especially because you're a new player. You can't catch the Snitch if you're unconscious in the Hospital Wing, right?"

Ginny nodded, hating that he was actually giving her good advice.

"To be honest though, you may give Gryffindor a fighting chance."

She was surprised. "Seriously? You were just telling me I was playing like shit."

Fred laughed. "You said it; I didn't. You weren't playing like shit. You just weren't playing smart. Keeping your head on a swivel is playing smart. That's why Harry practises with live Bludgers in training. But yeah… I mean, I didn't know you could play, but you seem like a not awful replacement for Harry, which is better than I was expecting."

"Gee, thanks Fred," Ginny replied, rolling her eyes.

He grinned. "Win a match or two, then I'll think about reconsidering."

Ginny snorted and mounted her broom again. She was about twenty feet up when Fred shouted, "Hey. Don't forget to be smart! Last thing I want is one of these to kill you because Mum would find some way to blame me and George!"

Then she heard a crack and the Bludger rocketed up towards her, forcing her to dodge to the left out of the way. Fred was laughing on the ground, holding a Beater's bat.

"Thought you weren't supposed to be playing Quidditch," Ginny called back before glancing around for the Bludger.

"What toad-face doesn't know won't hurt her!" Fred replied. "Besides, somebody's gotta hit Bludgers at you!"

From this high up, she was pretty sure he couldn't see her smiling. She could appreciate his help off the ground without letting him feel like he was smarter than her. And maybe, just maybe, she would actually learn a thing or two from him.


"Fred fought for what was right. Like Kingsley said, he fought for our right to be happy. And every day that we smile, we honour what Fred fought and died for. He'll never be forgotten as long as we allow ourselves to be happy." Ginny noticed that Bill looked right at Harry as he said this.

"It still hurts like hell, and it will for a long time. But we all owe it to Fred to honour his life's mission and make it our goal to make other people happy." Bill looked at the casket, tears streaming out of his eyes. "We miss you, Freddy. But we're gonna smile for you." He turned back to the crowd, and Ginny looked around at all the people smiling through their tears as they remembered Fred. Harry squeezed her hand and smiled gently at her. She responded by leaning into him, doing her best to smile for her older brother.

Her dad stood up and gently levitated and lowered his son into his grave. Bill kept a hand on their dad's shoulder as he did this, and when it was done, he pulled his dad into a tight hug.

Suddenly, everyone jumped as the first explosion rocked the sky. Ginny looked up, unable to believe it as she saw a multitude of fireworks and streamers decorating the sky. The show lasted several minutes, and the crowd laughed as the magical fireworks created images of lions, broomsticks, and Fanged Frisbees before culminating with a flash as Fred's face grinned down at them all before it all disappeared.

The crowd began applauding, and Ginny felt her mother clapping too, which surprised her a little. She glanced down the row and saw George and Percy patting each other on the back, clearly proud of what they'd done even though they continued to cry. She was very impressed that Percy was obviously a part of it, but more than anything, she was just so happy that George had honoured Fred like that. Fred deserved it.

HGHGHGHGHGHGHGHGHGHGHG HG

Harry was amazed at the show George had put on. He was amazed that Bill had called him and Hermione Fred's siblings, still unable to believe that they all felt that way about them. He was amazed at the strong way that Ginny held herself, despite her grief. The fireworks show made Harry realise that Fred wouldn't have wanted a sombre occasion. He would've wanted something colourful and bright. George had known that, and Harry wanted to do his part. He subtly drew his wand and, knowing Fred would've gotten a kick out of it, changed the colour of his robes to bright pink.

Or at least, that's what he tried to do. His robes were pink now, but he'd also changed the colours of the entire Weasley family's robes. All of them on the front row were now wearing loud robes of various shockingly bright colours- orange, yellow, blue, green, pink. It was enough to make anyone squint looking at them. Harry blushed as everyone turned to look at him since he was the only one with his wand out. Before he could apologise and change everyone back, George started laughing hysterically at his own bright pink robes and the robes his family was wearing. There was a lot of laughter behind them, so Harry turned back slightly, surprised to see everyone smiling and changing the colours of their own robes to similarly bright colours.

He straightened in his seat and looked down at Ginny, who was laughing loudly at Harry's pink robes and her own neon green ones. He finally grinned then, pleased that they all thought it was funny.

Ginny leaned up to him and whispered in his ear, "You're perfect," before kissing his cheek. Harry smiled even wider at that.

HGHGHGHGHGHGHGHGHGHG HGHG

The crowd finally thinned after a couple hours. Ginny hadn't left Harry's side as they talked to old Gryffindor Quidditch teammates and professors from Hogwarts. She almost couldn't believe that everyone seemed to feel better now than they had before the funeral. She wasn't naive enough to believe that they were all free of their grief, but for now, she was very content to be happy in the moment.

George had gone upstairs earlier, finally succumbing to his own grief, but surprisingly, everyone else in the family still seemed to be doing relatively okay. Once the last guests had left though, her parents withdrew to their bedroom, and the rest of them were left in the living room, slipping back into a little of the melancholy that had been plaguing them for days. As the sunlight faded, she took Harry back outside for another, brief walk, before they returned to the house, meeting again in her bed.

As Ginny snuggled up against Harry, she wasn't expecting him to start talking when he suddenly said, "You know, you keep me from spiralling out of control. You're… like a weight on my broomstick."

Ginny turned and cocked an eyebrow curiously at him. "I'm a what?"

She could tell Harry was blushing even in the dark. "I messed that up, didn't I?" Ginny snorted and nodded, thinking she knew where Harry was going but needing him to work to explain it better.

"I just mean… when I'm flying on my broom in bad weather, the broom can start losing control. It gets carried around by the wind and the rain and sometimes I'm left holding on desperately. But if the broom had extra weight on it, it would be harder for the wind to push it around. So you're like a weight on my broom- no matter what things I'm going through, getting knocked around by my emotions and everything else, you keep me from falling off." He sighed. "I know I'm not explaining this well, but-"

Ginny just had to kiss him. She met his lips in a kiss that reminded her of the one they'd shared in the orchard that morning, full of care and devotion and trust. "I think you're better than you think," she said, smiling at Harry, who looked very pleased, relieved, and a little stunned.

He cleared his throat. "Er- um- anyways, yeah. That's the next thing on the list."

"The list?" Ginny asked innocently.

Harry grinned now, kissing her forehead as she teased him. "You know exactly what list I'm talking about. The all-important list of what you mean to me."

Ginny just hugged him tightly, knowing that was all he wanted too. Within moments, they both fell asleep, secure in each other's arms, weighing down each other's brooms against all the troubles the world was throwing at them.

HGHGHGHGHGHGHGHGHGHG HGHG

As usual, Harry woke up before Ginny, and after kissing her on the cheek, he went upstairs to wake Hermione. Today though, Hermione didn't want to go back to sleep. Instead, she changed clothes and joined Harry outside. They walked to Fred's grave and stood by it for a moment. Harry loved the epitaph that George chose for his brother: I solemnly swear that I am up to no good.

Smiling sadly, they returned to the porch and sat on the swinging bench. They sat quietly for a while, but Harry could tell something was on her mind.

His suspicions were confirmed when she asked, "You haven't told her yet, have you?" Harry looked at Hermione, blinking owlishly. She rolled her eyes. "You haven't told Ginny about the forest, have you?"

He shook his head. "I've been trying. She knows everything up to when Snape died. I almost finished telling her everything last weekend, but we were interrupted. Then I almost told her yesterday morning, but I just didn't want to add more to her plate."

She sighed. "You probably made the right decision yesterday, but… there's never going to be a right time to tell her, Harry. It's going to keep holding you back until you tell her."

He wasn't able to help the bite in his tone as he responded. "I know, Hermione. Believe me, I don't like her not knowing everything yet either. But I'll tell her soon, and I'll let you know when I do, so you can stop asking."

She blinked and looked down at the ground. They sat quietly for a moment before Harry sighed, running his hand through his hair. "I'm sorry, Hermione. I appreciate you trying to help, I really do. I'm just- honestly, I'm nervous about how she's going to react."

Hermione looked over at Harry with a surprised expression. "She's going to be sad, scared, and knowing Ginny, probably a little angry. But none of that's going to change how she feels about you." Harry exhaled deeply, wishing he was as confident as Hermione was. Clearly sensing this, Hermione continued, "Trust me, Harry. If she wants to be with you after you left for a year, she'll still want to be with you after you tell her this."

He nodded. She was probably right. It didn't make things any easier though. He decided to change the subject, knowing they weren't going to make any more progress on this right now. "How are things going with you and Ron?"

Hermione blushed and bit her bottom lip in a very un-Hermione way. "Oh, they're great. Not as great as you and Ginny, but you both are- well, we're both happy. Although I'm looking forward to actually going on real dates," she confessed.

Harry smiled. "Yeah, me too." He'd found himself thinking about different places he wanted to go with Ginny recently, and he could tell that Hermione was doing the same with Ron.

Hermione sighed and leaned against Harry's shoulder. He couldn't explain it, but this was much different than when Ginny leaned on him. "This will all be over soon, won't it?" she asked.

"I hope so," he answered truthfully. "The hard part's supposed to be over, right?"

She snorted. "This doesn't feel much easier."

He agreed. "No, it doesn't." They didn't need to say anything else. Harry sat with the closest thing he'd ever had to a sister for a while before Bill came outside.

"Two sickles," Harry said when he saw Bill.

Bill rolled his eyes. "Add it to the tab. Are you okay, Hermione?"

She sat up. "I'm about as good as can be expected, I guess." Bill nodded, leaning up against a post on the porch and looking at the two of them.

"You're both taking good care of my little siblings," he commented. Hermione blushed, but Harry just smiled, knowing that Bill was okay with his relationship with Ginny.

They stayed outside with Bill until Charlie came outside, and then the three of them started making breakfast while Hermione watched. As good as she was at basically everything she tried, she just was not good in a kitchen, and it clearly bothered her. She watched them very closely until Charlie told her to back up if she didn't want hair in her food. Red-faced, she backed up to a safe distance and observed until the rest of the family came downstairs, including Ginny, who clearly was still trying to get back in the habit of sleeping in.

They passed plates of food around, and Harry sat next to his girlfriend, lightly rubbing the soft skin of her thigh with his thumb while they ate. She glanced at him out of the corner of her eye but smiled a little and shifted so that their legs were pressed against each other, giving Harry easier access.

Harry was so focused on where his hand was that he missed his mouth with his cup of tea and spilled it all over his light grey shirt, leaving a very dark stain behind. He jumped up quickly, burned by the hot beverage, and that certainly got everyone's attention. He only hoped that nobody would be asking him why he wasn't paying attention.

Ginny jumped up with him, looking concerned. "Here, take this off and we'll get you a new shirt," she said, immediately grabbing the bottom of his shirt and starting to lift it off. He was burning, and he was very willing to change shirts until he saw Hermione shaking her head vigorously while her eyes widened. Damn. It would be a very bad idea to take his shirt off in front of everyone and show them his new scar, especially Ginny.

"It's fine," he blurted out, quickly pulling his shirt back down and casting a drying charm on it. That didn't really do much for the burning, but at least his shirt wasn't wet.

Ginny frowned, appearing confused at his reaction. He took her hand and sat back down at the table with her. Mercifully, he felt the burning suddenly stop, and he looked up to see Hermione's wand sliding back under the table. He nodded his thanks to her for casting the cooling charm that he'd forgotten in his haste to keep his shirt on. The rest of the meal passed without incident, although Harry noticed that Ginny made sure to keep a sliver of distance between herself and him.

HGHGHGHGHGHGHGHGHGHGH GHG

After breakfast, Ginny once again took a plate of food up to George, although he didn't let her in this time. Disappointed, she slowly walked back down the stairs, but she stopped in her room rather than going back to the kitchen. She closed the door and watched the different views of her first kiss with Harry. As usual, she felt lacewing flies flitting around her stomach while watching it. Somewhere in the back of her head though, she was replaying a different memory. She was thinking about what had just happened in the kitchen. It was just like when they were in his bed in the Gryffindor dorms. For some reason, Harry didn't want her to take his shirt off. At first, she'd thought it was because he was wanting to take things slow, but he'd had no problem with all the other physical progressions they'd made in their relationship. So what was it then?

She jumped as the door to her bedroom opened and Hermione walked in. Hermione started when she saw her. "Sorry Ginny, I didn't know you were in here. I was just going to change into something a little less warm," she said, indicating the jumper she was currently wearing.

"No problem," Ginny answered, moving over to sit on her bed while Hermione picked out a striped shirt to change into.

"Hermione, do you know if anything's going on with Harry?"

Hermione looked back at her. "What do you mean?" she asked.

"Well, I don't think he wants me to take his shirt off." Hermione raised her eyebrows curiously. "Don't look at me like that, you know our relationship is far enough along that that shouldn't be a problem."

Hermione shrugged. "I don't know, Ginny. I'm probably not the person to ask about that though."

Annoyed but resigned, Ginny nodded, leaving the room and walking back downstairs. Harry was sitting on the loveseat in the living room, alone. Ginny walked over to him, and he perked up when he saw her. She sat next to him and he pulled her close.

Tracing her hands over his shirt, she asked, "Harry, do you not want me to take your shirt off?"

"What?" he responded, leaning back slightly to look down at her.

"I've tried to take your shirt off a couple times, but you don't seem to want me to."

He seemed surprised but quickly answered. "Gin, I really didn't want you to take my shirt off in front of your parents and brothers," Harry said, and that… actually that made a lot of sense. Ginny nodded, deciding to get a little more bold since her parents weren't around. She slipped her hand under the hem of Harry's shirt, feeling the lean muscles and a bit of fuzzy hair on his stomach. He inhaled sharply but didn't push her away.

"So you don't have a problem with me doing this then?" she asked innocently as she now traced elaborate shapes on his abdomen.

"Not at all," he whispered through his teeth. Ginny looked up at him and saw the expression on his face- desire mixed with self-control. There was something rather beautiful in that, she thought as she gave Harry some encouragement, guiding his hand back to the thigh that he'd been so generously caressing before he burned himself. He gladly took the invitation, and they sat in silence, enjoying the exploration of small parts of the other's body.

They both looked up when they heard a creak on the steps, and Ron walked in. His eyes widened, but Ginny was impressed that he didn't say anything to them. He just shook his head and muttered something that sounded like "bloody mental" before walking through into the kitchen. Ginny grinned up at Harry, who was chuckling at Ron's reaction. Unfortunately, her parents, Charlie, and Percy came downstairs a moment later, and they were forced to stop for now.

HGHGHGHGHGHGHGHGHGHGH GHG

They all sat for several hours, but unlike the previous days, there was at least some conversation to be had, especially after Bill and Fleur joined them. Despite the conversation though, there were still clear breaks where everyone seemed to collectively lapse back into the pitfalls of the sad memories. As the afternoon wore on, Ron and Hermione came inside from the porch, and everyone was surprised to see George, who looked equally surprised to see all of them.

"I was just gonna grab a bite," he said quietly, walking into the kitchen. When he came back, carrying a piece of toast and an apple, Molly stood up.

"George, I- I wanted to give you something."

Harry and the rest of the family watched as Molly pulled something on a chain from a pocket in her robes and handed it to George. Harry watched George's reaction. He looked surprised, but then he started crying again. Suddenly, he threw his arms around his mother, pulling her into a tight hug as they both cried together. He was holding the object by the chain, and it dangled down behind Molly. Squinting his eyes, Harry suddenly saw what it was, and judging by her sharp inhale, Ginny had just realised the same thing.

When George finally stepped back from Molly, he wiped his eyes and shakily said, "Thanks, Mum," hanging Fred's hand from the family clock, still shrunk, around his neck. Harry felt a tear leaking out of his eye and brushed it away, holding Ginny tightly as she stared at her brother even though she wasn't crying. Not knowing what else to say, George just nodded at everyone before walking back up the stairs.

The family sat in silence for a moment before Molly stood back up and said she needed to make dinner. Within minutes, Harry and Ginny were alone again in the living room. Ginny looked up at him. "Do you want to go see Teddy tomorrow?" she asked.

Harry shook his head. "How about the next day?"

Ginny frowned. "What are we doing tomorrow?"

Harry opened his mouth and closed it again, realising this related to the untold part of the story. Finally, he spoke. "I was hoping you'd come with me tomorrow to Professor Snape's funeral."

HGHGHGHGHGHGHGHG HGHGHGHG

Ginny gaped at Harry, positive that he couldn't be serious about this. Snape's funeral? After everything he'd done to Harry? After everything he'd allowed to be done to her this year?

"You're kidding," she breathed out after a few seconds of stunned silence. Harry shook his head, and the sincerity on his face confirmed that he was being very serious. Harry had told her that Snape had been killed by Riddle himself, but that didn't make it Harry's fault. Did his guilt really extend so far that he felt responsible for the Death Eaters' losses too?

"I should explain," Harry said, causing Ginny to look back up at him.

"You damn well better explain," she muttered, causing Harry to chuckle at her annoyance, something she didn't see any humour in at all.

"The last thing I told you about the battle was that Snape had been killed by Riddle, and he'd given me his memories. During the ceasefire, we returned to the castle, and Ron and Hermione went to be with your family in the Great Hall. I saw all of you and Remus and Tonks and I- I just couldn't. Riddle was asking for me to give myself up, but all I could think about was if I'd given myself up sooner, they'd all still be alive."

Ginny closed her eyes and kissed his hand, remembering that time after the fighting. When she had a second to breathe and it all became real.

Harry took a deep breath and resumed. "I just ran. I ran to Dumbledore's office. I needed to see whatever Snape had in his memories that was so important. So I poured them into the Pensieve and started watching. Snape- he knew my mother, before they went to Hogwarts. He was the one who explained magic to her when she started displaying her magical ability. She was Muggle-born, and she wasn't old enough to get a letter from Hogwarts yet, so she was just confused and my aunt was jealous that she wasn't magical. She became friends with Snape, and Snape wanted her to be in Slytherin because he knew he'd be there. Even though she was sorted into Gryffindor, they were still friends, for a while at least.

"But my mum disagreed with the friends Snape had. He was hanging out with future Death Eaters, who were apparently already practising Dark Magic at Hogwarts. Snape was really jealous of my dad and his friends. He- he was in love with my mum."

Ginny's jaw dropped, unable to imagine how Snape could've been in love with someone, let alone someone like Harry's mum. Harry nodded, grimacing. "I know, it's kinda revolting. But he was in love with her, and he was jealous of my dad, even though my mum couldn't stand him at the time. Everything changed though, one day when my dad and his friends were picking on Snape. They liked to do that- they thought it was fun. Snape was mad, and my mum tried to defend him, and he- he said he didn't need help from a- a Mudblood."

Ginny winced hearing that. "Some love if that's how he talked to her."

Harry shook his head. "I don't know how much Snape really knew about love. He felt terrible about it, but despite his feelings for her, he made his decision to join the Death Eaters, and she wasn't going to entertain him any longer. After they left school, that's what he did. He became a spy, and he heard the prophecy that-"

Ginny cut him off. "Prophecy? Like the prophecy from the Department of Mysteries?"

Harry nodded, running a hand through his hair. "I'm sorry, I forgot to tell you about that earlier. After we got back from the Department of Mysteries, Dumbledore and I had a conversation. The prophecy we were after, the one that was destroyed, was made by Professor Trelawney to Dumbledore, and he told me what she said:

"The one with the power to vanquish the Dark Lord approaches... born to those who have thrice defied him, born as the seventh month dies... and the Dark Lord will mark him as his equal, but he will have power the Dark Lord knows not... and either must die at the hand of the other for neither can live while the other survives... the one with the power to vanquish the Dark Lord will be born as the seventh month dies..."

Ginny shook her head in disbelief. "So that prophecy we were after… it said that- you really are The Chosen One?"

Harry grimaced. "Yeah, I guess when you put it like that. It had to be me." He hesitated for a moment. "Actually, believe it or not, it could've been Neville. He was born at the end of July to parents who had 'defied' Riddle three times. Dumbledore said that Riddle picked me because I was a half-blood, like him. And when he picked me, he- well I guess you could say he made me The Chosen One."

This was a lot of information for Ginny to process, not least of which was the idea that Neville could've been in Harry's position. No doubt Neville had been heroic this year, but it was difficult to imagine anyone other than Harry as The Chosen One.

Harry started talking again while her mind continued spinning. "Anyways, the reason Riddle was looking for the prophecy in the first place was because he only had the first part, that the one with the power to destroy him would be born at the end of July to parents who had defied him three times. He didn't have the rest. And that's because the spy that overheard the first part of the prophecy was caught before he could hear it all."

Ginny knew instantly where this was going when Harry looked at her with expectant eyes. "The spy… was Snape?" she almost spat.

Harry nodded grimly. "He was. He reported back to Riddle, but he was terrified when he realised that Riddle would go after my family. He went to Dumbledore and told him that Riddle was coming for us. He wanted Dumbledore to protect us, to hide us so that he wouldn't kill my mum. He- he even asked Riddle to spare her, even if he killed me and my dad."

Ginny exhaled slowly, trying to maintain her cool even though she was more furious than she'd ever been at her least favourite professor. Why the hell would Harry want to go to this man's funeral?

"Snape promised Dumbledore anything if he'd hide us. Aft- after my parents died, Dumbledore told Snape that if he loved my mum, he'd protect me to honour her. Snape hated it and made Dumbledore promise never to let anybody know, but he agreed. Snape hated me when I came to Hogwarts. Every time he looked at me, he saw my dad. But he kept me safe from Quirrell when Quirrell tried to knock me off my broom in my first year. He tried to protect me when he thought Sirius was going to kill me in my third year. He just never let anybody else know.

"When Riddle came back, Snape convinced him that he'd been spying on Dumbledore for him. He spent the next three years living a… really convincing double life. Riddle still didn't fully trust him though, and Snape needed Riddle to trust him if he was going to protect me. And… the best way to convince Riddle of his loyalties would be to kill Dumbledore."

She shuddered. In the midst of this whole story, she'd forgotten the worst thing Snape had done. He'd murdered Professor Dumbledore in cold blood. Why on earth did Harry think he was worth a funeral?

"Dumbledore was dying. I told you that Marvolo Gaunt's ring cursed him when he found it. The reason it cursed him was because Dumbledore put it on. The ring- it was actually the Resurrection Stone."

Ginny blinked. "What?"

Harry nodded. "Yeah, Dumbledore had the Resurrection Stone. I told you the Hallows were real," he said with a wry smile. Ginny was still puzzled as Harry continued. "He felt responsible for his sister and mother dying. When he saw the ring and realised what it really was, he forgot about it being a Horcrux. He put it on thinking he was going to see his family, and instead, he cursed himself with a death date. I don't know if he ever was able to use it to see his family. I just know that he destroyed the Horcrux.

"I was right about Malfoy, last year. You know he was trying to kill Dumbledore, and Dumbledore knew it too. He was worried that Malfoy would damage his soul if he succeeded, but he knew he was dying soon. So he planned for Snape to kill him when the time came, and he hoped the Elder Wand would belong to Snape afterwards, even if that didn't work out like he wanted."

"He planned it?" Ginny asked incredulously.

Harry nodded. "Yeah. I think it broke Snape up inside… quite a bit honestly. He'd lived such a lonely life, and Dumbledore was the only one who knew who he really was. Now that I know the true story, the way Snape acted, how he hesitated before he killed Dumbledore, makes a lot more sense. After Dumbledore- Snape still worked to protect me, us, as much as he could. He confunded Mundungus and gave him the Polyjuice plan last summer. When he cut George's ear off, he was trying to save Lupin from a Death Eater but missed. He was the one who brought the Sword of Gryffindor to the Forest of Dean, and it was his Patronus I saw. His Patronus was a silver doe- the same as my mother's. After all that time, he still loved her and did what he could to protect me."

Ginny breathed deeply, trying to wrap her head around it all. Random moments from the last year at Hogwarts came into her mind. How had they gotten so good at finding out when the Carrows were going after somebody? The trail of people the news travelled through was often so long that it proved impossible to trace, but it was always accurate. Was Snape behind it? She remembered the day she broke into his office to steal the Sword of Gryffindor. He could've easily given them to the Carrows, but he sent them to detention with Hagrid instead, even though he surely knew that wasn't a punishment. Maybe he really had been trying to help.

Harry was looking at her, waiting for her to collect her thoughts. Finally, she nodded. "I think I understand. He- he was apparently a very complicated man. I still think he was cruel and malicious and an altogether horrendous teacher-" Harry chuckled in agreement "- but he did do the right thing, in the end, even though almost nobody knows about it. I- well, I don't like it at all, but if you insist on it, I'll go with you tomorrow."

Harry breathed a sigh of relief, but then his expression turned serious again. "Ginny, there's something-"

Both of them turned and looked at Ron, who was standing in the doorway between the kitchen and living room, holding a hand over his eyes. "Mum wanted me to tell you both that dinner is ready." He turned and exited the room without ever actually looking at them. He was ridiculous, but that looked so funny that Ginny had to laugh. She glanced over at Harry, who looked rather annoyed for a moment before he rolled his eyes and started laughing with her.

Ginny didn't forget that there was something else he was wanting to tell her. But throughout dinner and the rest of the night, he didn't bring it up. He crawled into bed with her after everyone else had gone to sleep, kissing her cheek. "Night, Gin."

She smiled softly and moved back as far as she could against him. "Night, Chosen One."

Harry snorted into her hair and rubbed the back of her hand he was holding with his thumb. He kissed her on top of her head, and she fell asleep, thankful that, in spite of everything and how difficult it had been, he trusted her enough to tell her everything. They were getting through everything together, and they were going to be okay.

HGHGHGHGHGHGHGHGHGHG HGHG

Harry woke early the next morning, as usual, but instead of waking only Hermione after he left Ginny's room, he woke both of his friends up. Hermione sat on the edge of the bed while Ron glowered at him through squinted eyes, and Harry did his best not to laugh at the sight.

"I wanted to tell you both… I forgot to tell you yesterday, but Snape's funeral is in a few hours. Ginny and I are going, but I wanted to ask if you'd come as well."

"You woke me up at the crack of dawn to talk about that slimy git?" Ron grumbled.

Hermione smacked his arm. "Ron! You shouldn't say things like that about the dead." Behind her, Ron rolled his eyes, and Harry felt it best not to share that information with Hermione, who was now looking back at Harry. "Of course we'll come, Harry. He may have been… what Ron said, but we wouldn't have won without him."

Harry nodded, and Ron added, "What she said mate. I'm going back to sleep until then though." And true to his word, Ron rolled over and began snoring almost immediately. Now it was Hermione's turn to roll her eyes as she walked out the room with Harry.

When they reached Ginny's room, she turned and looked at him. "I'm actually going to sleep a little bit longer too," she said apologetically. Harry nodded and waved his hand, letting her go while he went back outside to the porch. Almost as soon as he sat down though, he wished she'd come down with him.

"Part of Lord Voldemort lives inside Harry."

"So the boy… the boy must die?"

"Part of Lord Voldemort lives inside Harry."

"You have kept him alive so that he can die at the right moment?"

"Part of Lord Voldemort lives inside Harry."

"You have been raising him like a pig for slaughter!"

Smoke clouded the sky and the smell of burning flesh and blood clogged his nostrils, making it difficult to breathe. Breathe and take another step. Breathe and take another step. Again and again and again until there's no more steps to take and no more breaths to take. Like a pig, walking to the slaughterhouse at the appointed time. Breath, step. Breath, step. Breath-


Harry jolted awake with Bill in front of him. Surprisingly, Harry was able to control his breathing in a matter of moments, while Bill stayed kneeling in front of him, holding his shoulders and coaching his breathing. When he finally was calm, Bill stood up and sat next to him, and Harry saw Fleur standing near them, looking as concerned as he'd ever seen her.

"What was that one?" Bill asked.

Harry shrugged helplessly. "I was thinking about when I found out about… what I had to do."

Bill nodded, hopefully realising that Harry didn't want to say anything about the forest with Fleur around. It wasn't that he didn't trust her; he just didn't want anyone else to know before Ginny.

"How are you feeling now?"

"It wasn't as bad as the one at Shell Cottage. I think you got to me pretty quickly."

Bill nodded again. "We heard Hermione on the landing. I figured you would've come downstairs after that."

"Apparently these will be less of a problem if I just keep somebody with me at all times," Harry said, trying to keep his annoyance at his plight out of his voice.

"Or the doctor and you… talking to people about… things makes it easier for you to be by yourself," Bill offered a little cryptically.

"You are strong, 'Arry. But now zee fight is in your 'ead. You can still fight, but it's not zee same as 'ow you've been fighting."

Harry tried to understand what Fleur was saying. "War is all about secrets… this is like the opposite of that, isn't it?"

Both Bill and Fleur nodded. "I know you're doing your best to be open and not keep secrets, but it's a hard habit to break, especially considering how secretive your entire life has had to be," Bill answered.

"It's not easy," Harry confessed.

"When 'ave you ever let deefficulty stop you before? I don't remember zat in zee Triwizard Tournament."

Harry exhaled sharply and smiled slightly at Fleur's encouragement. "You're right. It'd just be nice if things were easy every once in a while."

Bill clapped him on the shoulder and stood up. "The best things in life aren't the easy things, Harry." He nodded toward the door and Harry followed the couple into the house. They made breakfast together, or at least, Harry tried to help, but Fleur was making some complex French casserole that he had no real clue how to help with. So he mainly watched and tried to remember what she was doing, but she moved so quickly in the kitchen that it was hard to keep track of everything.

"Why are we always the ones making breakfast if she can cook like this?" Harry asked Bill.

Bill chuckled. "She likes to make the wizards do the work in the kitchen. Apparently they're much more… traditionally chauvinist in her hometown, and it amuses her to see men in the kitchen instead of women being expected to always be the ones cooking."

By the time the casserole was served, Harry was sure that he hated whatever chauvinism that made Fleur prefer men being in the kitchen when she was so clearly gifted. He'd never say it out loud, but this casserole was at least as good as anything he'd ever had from Mrs. Weasley. The looks on everyone else around the table told him that he wasn't the only one who held that opinion either.

When it was time, Harry, Ginny, Ron, and Hermione slipped out of the Burrow. They hadn't told anybody where they were going- Harry hadn't wanted to go through the whole story again with the rest of the Weasleys. It was just easier for them to quietly apparate to where Snape's funeral was taking place.

They met Kingsley and McGonagall near a thicket of trees Harry remembered from Snape's memories. He'd recommended this place to Kingsley when he'd seen him at Fred's funeral two days ago. He knew that Snape and his mother had spent considerable time here as children, and it seemed likely that this was where he'd been happiest in his relatively sad life.

The grave was already dug, and sitting next to it was the plain, willow wood casket. Nobody else was there; nobody else knew that Snape had been much closer to a hero than a villain when all was said and done. Kingsley cleared his throat, and Harry looked up from the casket. "Would you like to say anything, Harry?"

Harry hesitated and then nodded. "I didn't particularly like Professor Snape. He didn't like me either. He lived a very lonely life, but his life was incredibly important. He loved my mum… and this was where he was happiest, when it was just the two of them, before they'd ever even been to Hogwarts. He made terrible choices, learned from some of them, and hid his efforts to be better. He was more intelligent, strong, and brave than he ever got credit for, and I wouldn't be alive today without him. So even though neither of us liked each other, I'm thankful for what he did, and I hope that he's at peace and happy like he was when he was here with Lily Evans."

Ginny squeezed his hand when he finished speaking. Kingsley and McGonagall both nodded approvingly before McGonagall lowered the casket into the ground and covered it. Kingsley conjured a gravestone with Professor Snape's name and date of birth and death. Like he had with Remus' stone, Harry knelt in front of this one to carve an epitaph. Pleased with his work, he stepped back and everyone else read what he'd written- Silent with his intentions, Brave with his actions.

There wasn't much else to say. Severus Snape was nothing if not a wildly confusing and complicated man, and Harry couldn't think of another way to describe him in a way that truly honoured him. "Those are wise words, Potter," Professor McGonagall observed.

"Whose quote is that?" Hermione, ever the academic, asked curiously.

Harry frowned and shrugged. "Mine, I guess. I dunno, I just came up with it."

Ginny smiled softly. "It's perfect." That was all the assurance Harry needed. A few moments later, they returned to the Burrow, where the four of them spent a lazy day together. They were still mourning all the losses, but they weren't exactly sad about the funeral today. They were more… contemplative, Harry thought, laying in bed with Ginny that night.

It seemed paradoxical that a man so mean could be so brave. Harry still wasn't comfortable with the knowledge of what Snape did and why he did it, but that didn't make anything he'd said at the funeral any less true. Harry owed his life to a lot of people, and Snape was one of them. Snape had caused a lot of anger and frustration in Harry's life. However, his sacrifice was a big part of the reason Harry was able to experience the growing happiness he had in his life now. As difficult as it was, Harry knew he would do it all over again, with Snape hating him and everything, if this, being with Ginny and being alive and having friends and family, was the reward. So despite everything Snape had done, the fact that Harry had a life to live now redeemed Snape for Harry, at least enough that he genuinely hoped he was happy now.

/*/*/*/*/*/*/*/*/*/*/ */*

A/N: Well everyone, we did it! We have officially made it through all the funerals! There are definitely still challenges ahead, but I, for one, am very glad that they've made it through this really difficult part and are going to be able to start slowly moving forward now.

In the original draft of this chapter, there weren't any of Ginny's memories of Fred. I think that was mainly because the memories were still a bit of a novelty to write when I was in the first month of writing, but they become significantly more common in the second half of SoR and even more in the next book, so when I reread this chapter, it felt odd to me that I didn't have any of Ginny's memories in it. So the two memories in this chapter are actually the most recent things I've written in the series, which is kind of funny for me to think about considering the rest of this chapter was written last August. The Christmas memory is based off a throwaway line in Chapter 8, The Wedding, of Deathly Hallows, where Ron said that Great Aunt Muriel stopped coming to Christmas after Fred and George set a dungbomb off under her chair. The Quidditch memory takes place before Ginny's first match as Harry's replacement in Order of the Phoenix because I think, even though he's trying to be cool about it, Fred was a little worried for his sister and wanted to be sure she'd be okay in the match.

I've struggled sort of passively for the fifteen years since I first read the books to identify how I felt about Snape. My (possibly inaccurate) assumption is that most readers are like me and recognise that while he did some very good things, it can't just cancel out all the bad he did. I'm definitely not a Snape apologist, but I'm also not a blind Snape hater. Not that my opinions on him have ever really mattered before now. But ever since I started writing this book, I've been a lot more active in my consideration of what Snape did and, more specifically, how Harry would process and handle it. I still don't have an answer yet. I think Harry went to the funeral and spoke because he felt pity for Snape and recognised that they probably would've lost the war without him. This chapter is about as far as I've gotten on reconciling Harry with Snape's memory, which isn't really saying a whole lot. And to be completely honest, one thing I've been really stuck on, even though I'm a very long way from it, is how on earth I can justify Harry giving Snape's name to his son. This is all very abstract thinking right now, but, as a possible (?) spoiler, I haven't ruled out the possibility of making a divergence from canon if I can't figure it out. Again, I'm at least five book years away from needing to make that decision, so I've got plenty of time to resolve it all, but it is something I've definitely already given thought to. And really, I'm just talking about it because this is basically my personal diary for the writing process, and if anyone finds it interesting to know how I'm thinking about this stuff, that's an added bonus.

Two small fun facts at Snape's funeral… Snape's casket is made of willow wood, which is Lily Potter's wand wood, according to HP wiki. Just kind of a throwaway detail I wanted to add in. And Harry saying Snape's epitaph was his quote was directly inspired by Lupin's line in the Deathly Hallows Part 2 movie because it's just a great line. I also wanted to mention because I just remembered that the rapid change of perspectives was completely intentional as a way to possibly throw you all a little off balance and to simulate a little bit of the fractured nature of grieving. Most chapters, like you've already seen, won't have nearly this many switches.

Like I said, the ending of Heroes brings us to the end of the funerals, but… well, let's just say there's still some difficult things coming. As always, feel free to comment and share your thoughts and feedback with me! I love seeing people's thoughts on what I've written!

Coming Friday: Better Together- Instead of saying anything, she pushed away from the table, stood up, and ran out the back door.

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P.S. Thank you to everyone who voted for SoR in the DSTA voting! Although I didn't win anything, receiving the honourable mention for the romance category feels like a huge compliment, especially for a story that is so new, so thank you all and I hope you continue enjoying the book!
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