Harry and the Weasleys reunite.
Harry and Ollivander worked long into the night to repair wands and shops fronts. By the next morning, the Alley looked like nothing had happened. Only a few Aurors had showed up during the aftermath, and did little to assist the residents. Harry had questioned a few shopkeepers about the lack of response, but they all just shook their heads and said one word: "Fudge."
Ollivander had closed the shop the next day. Harry was told to take a few days to relax and rest up from the work he had helped perform in repairing the shops. His open and caring attitude had enamored several of the other shopkeepers with him, and he was well on his way to being an accepted resident of the Alley, and not just Ollivander's labor.
A small article in the Prophet announced only a single injury from the attack. It said Draco Malfoy had been crippled while trying to protect a young couple from the death eaters that had set the fire. Harry just snorted and threw the paper into the fireplace when he saw the story.
Harry was relaxing in his flat before he was to go over to the Weasley's for Bill's birthday supper. Hermione was going to stop by and they would floo from the Leaky Cauldron together. He had found anice doeskin leather bag that Bill could use for his rune stones. Uncharged stones needed a soft container to prevent chipping. Once they were charged, nothing could break them short of use.
He had also picked up a nice bottle of muggle wine as an offering towards supper. Harry had been worrying about his reception since he had gotten his invitation from Mrs. Weasley. He had been rehearsing how he would act and what he would say when he finally saw them after all these years.
The door buzzer sounded, startling Harry out of his musing. He snagged his coat, and locked the door on his way out. Hedwig has left several hours before to meet him at the Weasleys. As he saw his closest friend through the grate a smile lit his face. Harry pulled the security gate shut behind him, and turned into a hug from Hermione.
As she released him from her greeting, he looked at her face. Her cheeks were rosy from the cool weather, and her hair was spilling from underneath a warm looking knit cap. Her brown eyes were full of life, and Harry felt his chest tighten.
"Harry, are you ok? I know this isn't going to be easy, but they love you. I'll be with you the entire time. It will be fine. You'll see!"
Harry smiled and nodded. He offered his arm to her and she threaded hers through the crook with a laugh.
They walked in companionable silence until they reached the Leaky Cauldron. Harry felt his chest constrict as he approached the fireplace. He dropped a couple knuts in the vase beside the floo powder urn and picked up a handful of dust. With a sickly smile towards Hermione, he threw the powder into the flames.
"The Burrow!" With a quick flash, they two of them were spinning through the system. Flashes of other grates went whizzing by, not staying in their field of vision long enough to get more than an impression of a room beyond. Suddenly, they were spit out. Harry stumbled, and in his effort to keep from falling, grabbed onto Hermione's arm. She hit the floor, and her elbow caught him just below his rib cage, blasting all the air from his lungs and knocking the breath from him for a few seconds.
As he sat on the floor, trying to breathe, he could hear a familiar voice come from above.
"Bloody hell. You're Harry all right! Come on, mate! Let's get you up so Mom can fawn all over you and get it out of her system. She's been working up a full head of steam since Hedwig arrived. Merlin! It's good to see you!"
A hand that seemed to be three times larger than Harry's head reached down, extricated him from Hermione, and pulled him up into a manly hug. Ron had grown into his feet while Harry had been in Azkaban. While he was nothing compared to Hagrid, Ron's height was exceptional compared to other people. His training had filled out his physique enough that he didn't look lanky. Harry finally was able to draw a full breath. He started to take in more of his surroundings and could feel the man hugging him drawing large sobs.
Harry wrapped his arms as far around his best friend as he could and returned the hug. After a few moments, Ron had quieted
"Ron.. I'm fine, and I'm not going to disappear again. I'm back... I'm home."
Ron pulled away and swiped his arm at his eyes. Glancing over his shoulder, Harry could see Hermione's eyes were full of tears at the spectacle of the reunion of the Golden Trio. She pulled a handkerchief from a sleeve and dabbed at her eyes as she stood up. Clearing her throat and pulling herself together she nodded to Ron.
Ron thumped Harry's back and looked him up and down. His gaze took in the aged appearance of his friend. Whatever had happened to Harry had not been easy. He could sense the scars that crossed his face were only the surface ones. He smiled and squeezed Harry's shoulder.
"Come on. Mom's in the kitchen. Dad's out in his shed, and we expect the twins, Bill and Fleur shortly. Charlie's probably coming for Christmas, and Percy is STILL a git." Hermione shot a look at Ron when he didn't say anything about Ginny and Neville. Harry was lost in his memories of the Burrow when Ron shrugged his shoulders and turned towards the kitchen.
Harry nodded and looked around the Burrow as they made their way to the famed Weasley kitchen. Not much had changed, with the exception of a few more pictures on the mantle. Harry saw several wedding pictures, but wasn't able to get more than a glimpse of them before being pulled into the next room.
"Ron! Go and get your father. The forks and knives are fighting again, and I need him to get the table set!" Molly Weasley was in her element. She commanded the kitchen with a heart full of love and steel in her voice. She looked over her shoulder to make sure he youngest son was following her directions and froze in place.
Harry stood still as he looked at the woman who was pretty much his adopted mother. Her hair was still mostly red, but had a touch more grey through it. Her face was etched with a few more wrinkles, but she looked well.
Molly set down the dough bowl she had been mixing, and seemed to almost apparate to Harry's side. She swept him up into her arms and pulled him tight against her in a motherly hug. Harry's chest loosened, and he felt the stress of worry flow away. He knew at that moment he was going to be ok.
"Oh Harry! It's so good to see you! I've made your entire favorites, and its treacle tart for dessert. And young man... don't think you will be able to get away without telling us where you've been all this time. From the looks of you, you've barely had enough to eat the entire time!"
Molly's mothering flooded Harry with a warm feeling. He didn't even feel the least bit of apprehension at having to talk about his time in Azkaban. As Molly finished her tirade and turned back to the bowl, Arthur and Ron came in through the door. The older man stopped and looked Harry over. With a nod he strode over and offered his hand.
"Welcome Home, Harry."
"Come on now Luna. You like mushy peas!Only a couple more spoonfuls and we're done."
Ginny fed the last spoonful to Luna. She was sitting up in her bed, her blue eyes vacant and staring. Ginny had been coming to St. Mungo's three times a week since her friend had been admitted to the long term care ward. Luna had been unresponsive since her father's murder. She had been forced to watch as the death eaters tortured and finally killed him. When the aurors came to investigate the dark mark in the sky and burning Quibbler office, they found her, beaten and raped. The Death Eaters must have thought her dead when she didn't respond and left her.
Ginny had been caring for the woman since. She would feed her, and read to her. The Quibbler had been burned down, but Ginny had found hundreds of back issues, and read the articles to her friend. Sometimes she thought she could see a glimmer in the eyes, but lately, it seemed like Luna had been getting worse.
With a sigh, Ginny cleaned up Luna's face and marked down on the chart how much she had managed to get her to eat. With a wave of her wand the bed was remade, and the room was tidied. Ginny pulled her coat on and walked back to her friend. Brushing Luna's corn silk hair out of her face, she leaned down and placed a kiss on her forehead.
"Take care, Luna. I'll be back to see you again in a day or so. Harry is finally back and I'm going to see him tonight!"
As Ginny said Harry's name, the blonde laying in the bed started to moan. Her eyes rolled around until only the whites were showing. Ginny reached down and held her friend's hand. With a wave of her wand, she signaled the healer-on-call. Healer McAvoy hurried into the room and saw the distress his patient was in.
Ginny was petting Luna's hair and trying to calm her. "I don't know! I fed her, and then was saying goodbye like I always do and she started to thrash!"
Healer McAvoy waved his wand over the small woman's body and smiled. "There's something going on inside her head. This is the most response she's had to stimulus in months! Please, try to remember exactly what you said!"
Ginny looked at her friend with worry in her eyes. She thought for a moment and as the realization hit her, her eyes widened. "I had just mentioned I was going to see.... an old friend. He's been gone since before her father was.... Well, you know."
Healer McAvoy nodded. He waved his wand again and put Luna asleep. "I think you should ask this old friend to come and visit. He may be the one person that her subconscious thinks can help her cope with the psychological trauma she's been trying to process."
Ginny worriedly looked from the healer to her oldest friend. Her forehead creased in thought. When she looked back to the healer, she had tears in her eyes. "I know he'll come as soon as I tell him what's happening. He has a saving people thing."
The twins, Bill and Fleur had arrived at the Burrow shortly after Harry and Hermione. Fleur immediately pulled Harry up and kissed him on each cheek. Tears flowing and her Veela powers running unchecked, all the men in the room started drooling. Harry felt the attraction hit him as she pulled him into a hug. He started to lean into the hug, when he heard Ezekial.
"No! Weak willed fool. Don't fall into this glamor. Fight!"
The black mist roared up into Harry's mind, forcing back the Veela power that had been seeping into his consciousness. Harry stiffened for a moment as the smell of her hair, and perfume was swallowed back into the smell of supper cooking and the general home-like smells of the Burrow.
Fleur stepped back and looked into Harry's face. She blinked and her eyes widened as the realization hit her that she had lost control of her powers but also that they had not affected him as they had the rest of the room. Even her husband Bill, who had been exposed to her abilities for several years now and had built up a tolerance, had succumbed to the overload of emotion. She brought her powers under control as she released Harry from her embrace. With a clearing of her throat, and a quick tug on her clothes, she settled back into a more formal stance.
"You always were able to resist my charms, 'Arry. I'm glad to zee you are well."
Harry blinked as the black mist cleared from his mind. His face relaxed into an honest smile, and he chuckled. "Even without your Veela charms, you can turn a lad's head, Fleur."
Bill recovered from the Veela mojo first and pulled Harry into a brotherly hug. With a pat on his back, he released Harry and stepped into the kitchen to see if he could help his mother with anything for supper.
Fred and George swooped towards Harry, their arms open as if to embrace him. He quickly sidestepped and hid behind Hermione. "Oh no! Last time you two spelled my pants invisible. I walked home through MUGGLE London before I realized what you had done!"
The twins were holding each other up and laughing so hard their eyes were tearing. Even Hermione was laughing as she tried to pull Harry out from behind her.
It was at this time the fireplace roared again and Ginny stepped out with Neville. She was waving her wand across the front of her clothes to remove the soot when she spotted Harry. Her arm froze in mid swing. Her gaze was frozen on his face. She stepped forward, coming face to face with him. For several long seconds she stared into his eyes. Harry didn't move. The moment felt like an eternity to him. Suddenly he felt a stinging sensation on his face where her hand had slapped him. Then, just as fast, she was clinging to him in a hug that felt like it would split him in two.
A collective breath was released by the Weasleys. They knew that Ginny had taken a long time to get over the fact that Harry had disappeared. Now, as with all the other Weasley's, she had forgiven whatever trespasses, real or imagined, almost immediately.
Ginny let him go and stepped back to her husband. Neville moved forward to stand in front of Harry. Placing a hand on his old friend's shoulder he spoke.
"All right, Harry?"
Harry smiled a sad smile. "Now it is, Neville. Now it is."
Supper was another Molly masterpiece. The conversation revolved around everyday things that were happening in everyone's lives. Nothing was said of death eaters, Harry's disappearance, or anything else negative. After they had all had some treacle tart, the family moved to the living room. The room fell silent as they all contemplated.
It was Ron who finally broke the silence and asked the question that everyone wanted to ask but were afraid. "Harry, mate. What happened? Where did you disappear to?"
With a glance at Hermione, he started describing his last ten years. Her hand had found his as he spoke. She squeezed his in support when he came to hard parts. By the time he spoke of the good people at the hospital, everyone's eyes were wet with tears. He finished speaking and waited, looking at the floor of the sitting room. Hermione held his hand tightly, and was stroking his back with her other.
Arthur spoke. "Harry, we never stopped looking for you. The minister covered his tracks too well. Forcing the court members into magical oaths, sealing the records, and obliviating the Order member who was watching you made it impossible to track you. Please believe me, son. We looked and never gave up."
Harry nodded and cleared his throat. "I know. It took me a while to get my head on straight after being released. I still have some troubles controlling my emotions at times. Ask Bill."
Bill nodded his head vigorously. He had had his wand and several runes stones ready to absorb and redirect any magical discharge that Harry may have had. Happily, it wasn't needed.
Ginny sat forward in her seat next to Neville. "Harry, I know you're trying to sort out what's happening to you right now. I hate to pile more on top of your already full plate, but do you know what happened to Luna?"
Harry sadly nodded. He had been shocked when he had read the Daily Prophet back issues that described the fire that had destroyed the Quibbler office. The Prophet had said her father had died at the scene, but not from fire. The rest had been reported as banned from publication by the ministry. Ginny quickly filled Harry in on what had really happened to Luna and her father. With a growing horror, Harry listened.
"She's still in St. Mungo's. I go to see her a few times a week. She was doing better than she was when she was first admitted, but lately has taken a turn for the worse. Today, something odd happened. As I was leaving, I told her that I would be seeing you again. She hasn't reacted to anything except pain stimulus for months, but she started to thrash upon hearing your name. Healer McAvoy wants you to come to St. Mungo's and visit. We're hoping just seeing you will help move her out of her fugue state."
Harry's brow furrowed. He thought for a few moments. "Hasn't anyone tried legilimency to reach her?"
Ginny shook her head. "There isn't anyone strong enough to get through her shields. Forcing our way in would just cause more damage. People in a catatonic or fugue state have locked their conscious mind away for some reason. The reason can be anything from a total mental breakdown, to a simple refusal to deal with some event. We think that Luna was still having troubles dealing with the death of her mother when she was forced to watch her father killed. What we need is for her to relax her shields enough to let someone in and talk to her. If she can deal with the event that is causing her to retreat, we can help her."
Harry could feel the interest rolling in waves from Ezekial. Then, suddenly, they stopped. The rich dark voice spoke into his mind. "We will see this woman. Maybe she will be able to help you understand yourself." Harry sighed and rubbed his eyes.
"When will you be going to see her again?"
"The day after next, I go around supper time and spend about an hour with her. Meet me at the shop. We're right next to the idiots store."
Harry laughed as Fred and George feigned hurt looks. "Ok I'll meet you there when Ollivander closes. Say about six? In the mean time, I seem to have a birthday present for someone here..."
Harry pulled a box wrapped with a bow from under his coat and handed it to Bill. Several more gifts were placed around him by the others as he was opening it. He made an appreciative smile when he saw Harry's gift. Ron gave him a new auror grade wand holster while the twins had gotten him some new skin tight dragon skin gloves. Molly and Arthur had wrapped up a new jumper and home stitched work robe. Ginny and Neville gave him a gift certificate for the Rune supply shop in Diagon Alley. Hermione had gone into the muggle world and bought Bill a pair of dark sunglasses.
"Thank you everyone. These are wonderful!"
The rest of the evening was filled with quiet discussions, some exploding snap, and Harry being decimated by Ron at chess. Harry glanced at the time and realized he had lost track, he had been enjoying himself so much. He thanked the Weasleys for the great supper. With a wave to Bill wishing him a happy birthday, Harry and Hermione floo'ed back to the Leaky Cauldron.
Making sure Hermione got onto the Knight Bus ok, Harry walked back to his flat. His mind deep in thought.
Harry was working on the roof garden at his building, carefully settling the benches, and planning the trellis for the ivy he wanted to have growing around the top. His idea was to have the rooftop garden look like a grotto, and have places that some of the wildlife, like birds and such, could make homes. He had an owl perch near the top for Hedwig, and any other birds of prey that may stop by, and some small garden boxes for the residents to plant their own vegetables, or flowers if they wished.
The entire garden was provided water from an old water tank on the roof, and had drainage to a pipe down to the storm drain at the street to prevent the excess rain and moisture from building up and collapsing the roof.
As Harry placed the last patio stone in the sitting area, he heard the door open. Looking over, he saw Olivia standing in the doorway. She had not been up to the roof since Harry had started converting it to more of a garden. Her face was alight with surprise and he could tell she was taken aback by the changes he had made.
"James! I had no idea! This is simply amazing. Last time I was up here it looked like a run down trash pile, with broken glass and rusty pipes! Now you have a lush greenhouse, and the sitting area is comfortable and clean!"
A quick glance confirmed Olivia had come up to the roof to peek in on his project. Harry brushed off his hands on his pants, and used the towel he had nearby to sweep some of the dust off the bench he had just finished installing. "Care to take a seat? I'll describe what it will look like when it is done."
Olivia shuffled over to the bench and sat down. "When it is done? I thought it was! What else do you have planned?"
"Well, ivy around the perimeter to hide the edge wall, some perennials in the beds and boxes around the benches. Over here, a small bush in the center, with a bird bath pond around it. I was also thinking about a bird house or two on top of the green house to attract some friends to share it with."
Olivia looked around and shook her head. She smiled as she looked at Harry. "You'll spoil us with this! We thought you would just clean it up and put some picnic benches up here. This... this will be our own slice of nature in the city!" Some movement drew her attention up to the perch that Hedwig sat on. She pointed up and said, "It looks like you already have a visitor."
Harry's carefree laugh made Olivia's smile even bigger. "That is my close friend, Hedwig. Remember when I asked if I could have a bird? That's her. Would you like to meet her?"
Olivia's eyes grew large and she seemed a little shocked. "THAT'S your friend? Well, I had thought a parakeet or lovebird was what you were talking about. But...All right. Hedwig is her name, you say?"
Harry moved to the side of the bench and called Hedwig down. The snowy owl's descent was silent and graceful as always. She landed on the back of the bench. Harry reached over and gently rubbed her head in his palm. "She's very friendly, Olivia. Would you like to touch her? She really likes to have her belly feathers stroked."
Olivia gently reached out to brush her hand against the snowy owl's breast. The feathers were soft, yet also had an almost starchy feel to them. Hedwig pushed against her hand to increase the contact. Harry sat back and watched his familiar and landlady become friends.
"She prefers to hunt on her own, and I daresay you will be hard pressed to find a rat, mouse, or wild pigeon within a few hundred meters of the building." Harry leaned down and stage whispered,"She also is a bit of a glutton for owl treats."
Hedwig chattered a scolding at Harry. Olivia laughed and turned her gaze to the young man beside her. "I believe you have just been told." Harry chuckled and held out a small owl treat to his familiar. She picked it out of his fingers and flew up to her aerie perch.
Harry looked up at her with fondness."She's been my closest friend for a very long time. I really don't know what I would do without her."
Olivia watched James' face for a moment and smiled. She could tell the man in front of her had had a difficult life. Anything that would make him smile was worth having.
"James, I'm happy to have her here. She's as welcome to stay as you are. And it's a bonus she's keeping the mice and rats down!" James suddenly had a serious look on his face. He took a deep breath and turned to Olivia.
"May I ask you a question? And maybe some advice?"
Olivia patted his hand. "Of course!Anything, James."
"I found out that an another old friend of mine is very sick. She's in the hospital... has been for a long time. She's had a hard life, very similar to mine. Right now she's trapped in her own mind, trying to deal with something horrible that happened to her. The doctor's think I could help, but I don't know if I can. It seems like everybody I get close to gets hurt in some way. Should I go? I might just make things worse."
Olivia held his hand. "James, one thing I have come to believe in my time on this earth is that we all have karma and destiny. One relies on the other. If you are a good person, good things come to you. Not always, because that's other people's karma acting on your own. But, in the balance, you will move towards the destiny you make for yourself."
The older woman sat up and walked towards the door back into the building. "In helping another being, you help yourself. Even those who don't deserve help should be assisted in whatever small way you can, even if it means stopping them from causing more pain to another. You're a good man, James. I know you will make the right decision, whatever it is. Now, this old woman needs to go back inside and warm her cold bones with some hot chocolate!"
Harry sat on the roof for another hour, staring out at the sky, deep in thought.
Author's note: I'm trying to build up to something, but the words don't seem to be coming as easily as I would hope. This has been a long break, but I hope to pick up the chapters a bit more again. Your comments and reviews are great! Every one gives me a little push to work on the story a bit more.
I'm going to try to get another two chapters up before the end of November!