Harry Potter Fic: After the Storm Title: After the Storm Fandom: Harry Potter Characters: Monica Granger, Molly Weasley, Augusta Longbottom, Narcissa Malfoy, Petunia Dursley, Andromeda Tonks, Nymphadora Lupin, and Fleur Weasley Wordcount | Rating: 10,444 | G Content Notes/Warnings: Contains definite spoilers for Book Seven, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. I think there may also be a spoiler from Book 6. Summary: The war is over and the wizarding world is struggling to rebuild. This is a series of ficlets that explore the aftermath from the point of view of all the mothers who survived - and one who didn't. Author's Notes: Written for ladiesbigbang. Acknowledgements: Thanks to ariestess for the fantastic beta and to bliumchik for the wonderful complement created for this story.
The war was over. The storm of turmoil and strife had finally passed through, leaving behind a wake of tattered lives filled with grief and celebrations. The survivors buried their dead, built memorials and found solace in the peace that followed.
And peace had come to the wizarding world again, spreading far and wide as news of Voldemort's death traveled across the country. Children played and adults conversed amongst themselves as the sun shone on the wizarding world. The rays of light broke through the gloom that shrouded the land, lending brilliance to the atmosphere as the witches and wizards reveled in their freedom again. Flowers dotted the hills of the countryside and grew wild along the banks of rivers. They lined the cobbled street in Diagon Alley and adorned tables in the homes. Windows were thrown open to let in the cool breeze, no longer shuttered against the storm of terror that covered the land. Gone were the days of fear and suspicions, betrayals and lies. The world was theirs again.
Yet the scars ran deep. The war changed everyone and the people affected most by Voldemort's reign of terror struggled daily with their efforts to heal. The Muggleborn worked to rebuild their lives after being torn from their families, while everyone struggled to rebuild their faith in neighbors and friends. No one had been spared from the terror that spread over their society, not even the children. Many died, leaving behind a legacy of bravery, courage and loyalty, as well as tears as their families grieved. Theirs was a legacy of stories and legends that sprung from the ashes of the battles, small consolation to the mothers and grandmothers who fought their own battles despite the uncertain future looming in the distance like an oncoming storm.
This is the story of those women who overcame the trials set before them and, just as importantly, found the strength to move on.
"Swear allegiance to the flag Whatever flag they offer Never hint at what you really feel."
-- Silent Running Words by Mike Rutherford and Bryan Robertson
Part 1 - Monica
Rain fell on her little garden, splashing along the leaves and flowers, and pelting the ground with little plops of sound. She stood at the back door, staring out in the garden with a feeling of peace and contentment. This was her home now.
Thunder rolled in the distance as the wind swept across the ground and crept through the screen in the door, bringing in the smell of rain and damp earth. Monica reveled in the storm, loving how the colors of her flowers seemed to pop out at her through the gloom of gray, cloudy skies. She had spent hours working in her garden over the past year, planting and weeding, hoping for something that she could be proud of. The greens, blues and reds that burst from the ground in a colorful array of motion eased her fears on that score. Her flowers turned out beautifully.
A feeling of accomplishment washed over her at that thought. Despite the hardships she and her husband, Wendell, faced when they first moved to Australia to fulfill a lifelong dream, they had persevered to overcome the obstacles of starting anew and had been so happy over the past year. Her life seemed complete.
Well, almost complete. A flash of lightning cut through the sky, as she thought about her life. They had left everything behind when they decided to make the move, bringing with them only their clothes and some of the furnishings. It had been important for them to leave as soon as they could, although to this day, she wasn't completely sure why. Still, they packed up and moved, and eventually made a new life for themselves. She shivered as the wind picked up and she pulled the edges of her sweater over her body to ward off the chill. Despite her happiness in their new life, something was missing.
The rain continued to pour down over the flowers that she had carefully nurtured, the sight of which now seemed to mock her. Her gaze moved toward the sky, staring out at nothing as she tried to find the reason for the emptiness she still felt whenever her hands and thoughts were idle. She searched her memories in vain, looking for that elusive something that she missed so desperately, even as she entertained the thought that she was just being silly.
Sadness still engulfed her when she turned to see Wendell standing in the doorway, but she smiled at him in an effort to hide her fears. He always scoffed at her whenever she approached the subject that she was contemplating. No need to bring it up yet again.
"I'm heading off to the shops," he said. "Do you need anything?"
"No. I'm all set."
"You sure?" She nodded, then smiled at him again when he gave her a wary look. He knew her too well, and she hoped he wouldn't push the subject. He nodded back, then turned to leave, saying, "Okay then. I'll be back soon."
She turned to stare out at the garden once again, but her mood had diminished somewhat. She supposed that everyone had their demons, Monica wished that she could have left hers behind.
A knock on the door a few minutes later gave her a start and a reason to think of other things. She hurried through the house to the front door, curiosity taking over when she found three strangers standing on her porch. Two men and a woman, the latter of which was smiling broadly at her.
"Mum!" the young woman cried out, her expression filled with happiness. Monica's thoughts were now swirling with confusion as she stared at the strangers. She didn't have any children. Not that she was aware of anyway. Surely they had the wrong place.
"I'm sorry..." she said, hoping to ease the way for them. The woman's expression crumbled, but she turned away, mumbling something that sounded suspiciously like, "I forgot...," a few more words, then an explosion of thoughts, memories and flashes of images raced through Monica's mind. She stumbled back a few steps, her eyes widening as she realized that the girl standing in front of her really was her child.
"Oh my God," she muttered, as the visions of a distant past continued to flow through her thoughts. "Oh my God. Hermione."
Hermione nodded and smiled at her. "Hello Mum."
Monica shook her head and put her hand over her mouth, still trying to understand the whirlwind of memories that swirled around in her head. "What... I don't understand." She shook her head, as the recollections of both lives settled down, leaving her angry and upset. How could she have forgotten her own daughter?
"Mum?" The hopeful expression on Hermione's face seemed almost as a forewarning. "I can explain."
"You did this?"
The guilty look on her daughter's face fueled the anger that continued to rage in Monica's heart, but Hermione was determined to tell her side of the story.
"You and Dad were in danger, Mum. I had to protect you."
"Protect me?" Hermione nodded, while Monica tried to calm down. "Don't you understand what you've done?" Hermione didn't respond, just stood there with tears glistening in her eyes. "We gave up everything to come here." She shook her head again as stared at her only daughter. "All this time... I didn't know you even existed." Monica was crying now and she turned her back to wipe the tears away, wondering how she could have been so gullible.
"She had to do it," one of Hermione's companions said, "Don't you see? You were in danger. He would have killed you to get to her."
"You're not helping, Ronald," Hermione said sharply. Monica smiled at that. Her daughter always was a no nonsense type of person.
"Mum, please," Hermione said. "Please try to understand." Monica nodded, her anger finally cooling, although she was still a little upset. But Hermione tried one more time. "I couldn't bear to lose you and Dad," she said. "Not permanently." Monica turned to face her and held out her arms, giving in to the overwhelming urge to hold her daughter and never let go. Hermione came willingly. "I love you so much, Mum," she said through her own tears. "I had to do something. I couldn't let them hurt you."
Monica hugged her tightly and told her, "You have no idea what I went through, Hermione. The emptiness I couldn't shake off was so hard. I hated that feeling."
"I know, but... it was just as hard on me." Monica held her tighter as Hermione said, "I hated that you didn't recognize me."
Monica didn't respond. It had been hard on both of them, but she couldn't shake the memory of all those times she thought she was going crazy. Still, her daughter was with her now, filling in the gaping hole in her life. Things could have been worse.
She pulled back from her daughter to face her husband, who was standing there looking from one person in the yard to the next, his expression wary and guarded.
"Wendell! Look who came home..."
He turned to look at her as Hermione muttered something that Monica couldn't quite catch. But she knew, and she watched as her husband went through the same thing she experienced a few moments ago. His eyes widened as he stood there, almost transfixed as he processed his own memories.
Hermione breathed a sigh of relief and went straight into his arms, hugging him tightly. Monica smiled at her family, glad that Wendell took the news better than she did. She caught the eye of Hermione's friends and nodded a greeting. Ron smiled back at her, while Harry nodded his own head. She wondered why they came with Hermione when they never had before, but she didn't get the chance to ask.
"What happened?" Wendell had finally come to the realization that they'd been duped and had launched into his own interrogation. "How could I have forgotten all about you?"
Hermione went back on the defensive. Monica knew her daughter better than anyone and she watched as Hermione stole a glance at her friends, then back at her father. "I had no choice," she said in a rush. "I only wanted to protect you."
"By tricking us?"
"No. No, Dad, that's not what happened. Mum," she said with a pleading look to Monica, who didn't fall for it. "Please. You have to understand that it was too dangerous for you to remain in London." She turned back to her father, and grabbed his hands. "I had no choice."
"She's right, you know," her friend Ron said in a helpful tone then yelped when his friend Harry punched him in the arm and gave him a pointed look.
Ron shrugged and said, "What? I was just trying to help."
Harry rolled his eyes at Hermione, who smiled fondly at them both.
"You tricked us Hermione," Wendell told her, apparently wanting to get his point across. He grasped her hands and said, "You used magic against us."
"I know," she whispered. She looked so sad, so lost that Monica couldn't stay mad at her. She went over and pulled her daughter into a hug. A feeling of completeness washed over her when Wendell put his arms around both of them.
She opened her eyes and noticed the roses that bordered the base of her home. Lush reds and yellows that had been so important to her were interspersed with the tiny blue flowers she had planted when she first moved into the house.
Wendell pulled back and Monica smiled at their daughter again to let her know all was well. But she didn't follow them into the house right away. She stared, instead, at the flowers that were mixed in with the roses, wondering at the irony of it all.
It wasn't worth mulling over, she decided as she followed her family into the house. But deep in her heart she knew she would always wonder why she had chosen to plant forget-me-nots in with the roses she loved so much.
Part 2 - Molly
A breeze wafted through the air bringing with it the scent of a thousand flowers. The little group of people stood beneath a weathered elm, each lost in their own thoughts, while Molly silently faced her worst nightmare.
The casket lowered itself slowly into the ground, the sides of it disappearing behind the mound of dirt that framed the grave. Molly tried to hold back her tears, knowing that her son would have wanted her to be brave, to laugh with his brothers. Fred always hated to see her cry, she remembered as she stood under the elm. He and George went out of their way to try to cheer her when Percy distanced himself from the family. But Fred was gone now. No more practical jokes and laughter. Now, it seemed, there was only sadness.
A muffled thump brought fresh tears that Molly tried once more to hide. She looked up to stare off into the surrounding area, hardly noticing the sea of tall grass that swayed in the wind. She had lost a child, a son she loved with all her heart.
She still had her other children, she thought, as she brought her attention back to the little group who surrounded the grave site. Percy stood beside her, his head bowed in grief. She had lost him once when he turned his back on her and their family. But that loss didn't come close to comparison with her current heartache. Despite Percy's stubborn attitude, there was always the chance he'd come back. The same could not be said for Fred.
Molly looked up when Arthur began to talk. She tried to listen to his words, knowing that he was speaking from the heart, but she could only hear the sobs of her daughter. She watched as Ginny cried into Harry's shirt, his arms wrapped around her in an effort to soothe. Despite her heartache, Molly was glad to see the budding romance between the two. Harry was already a part of her family, which was part of the reason she worried about him, Hermione and Ron the whole time they were gone on their quest to destroy He Who Must Not be Named. Harry was as much her son as those she gave birth to. It nearly destroyed her when he ran out of her house to chase Bellatrix Lastrange down. That boy was too impetuous for his own good.
A breeze blew past, lifting the strands of Ginny's hair. Molly's heart swelled as she thought about Ginny's bravery throughout the years, but especially during the battle at Hogwarts. Despite Molly's insistence that Ginny stay out of it, her daughter still found a way to fight alongside her family. Molly wrapped her arms around herself as she remembered the terror she felt when she thought Ginny was going to die. Molly had no choice but come to her defense.
Charlie moved over to stand next to her, and he put his arm around her shoulders. Charlie. He had come all the way from Romania to be there for his family, a fact that Molly appreciated more than she could say. She nodded at his whispered words of encouragement, even as she wondered if she would ever be okay. A piece of her heart was gone, ripped out just like the pieces of Voldemort's soul that Harry and Ron told her about. If it weren't for her family, she would have collapsed long ago.
She listened as Bill took over for Arthur who had finished his say through his own tears. Molly wiped away her own tears at the sight. It was a rare sight to see Arthur Weasley cry. His normally jolly personality usually prevented it. Yet he stood by Charlie with tears streaming down his face. He loved his children as much as she did.
Bill spoke of his own memories of Fred: the practical jokes Fred and George pulled and the products they developed and tested on family members, much to the misery of their family. Molly had to smile despite her heartache. She lost count of the times she had to mediate for the twins every time one of their jokes backfired. Not as many times as she scolded them for it though, she thought as grief chased away her smile.
Oh, she missed Fred so much.
Fleur slid her arm around Bill's waist and laid her head on his shoulder. Molly watched as Bill turned to his wife, his words faltering for a moment as he tried to keep his own tears at bay. Despite her earlier misgivings, Molly was just as proud of Fleur as she was of her other children. That woman stood by her husband throughout the whole ordeal, her love for him rivaling the love Molly had for Arthur, which was saying a lot.
Bill turned back to the grave and said his final farewell to his younger brother, his tears sliding over the scars he bore from his own battles. It was so hard to see her men cry, Molly thought, as her own grief threatened to overflow the strong exterior she tried to hold on to. She brought a handkerchief to her face to wipe her nose, wishing with all her might that her family was intact again. Her gaze turned to the swaying grass, toward the hills in the distance, and she wondered if she would ever be whole again. Her family suffered so much for a cause they believed in with a vengeance, but right now she wondered if it was really over. She didn't know if she would ever get over her loss.
Bill finished his say and the mourners all stood around, silent except for the occasional sobs that mixed in with the wind that blew through the trees and the wildflowers scattered over the area. No one had anything to say it seemed. Ron moved closer to the grave, his face white against his red hair while a tear slid down his cheek. Molly watched as he stared down at the casket, more tears making it hard for her to see, but she wondered what her youngest son was thinking as he stood there with such a somber expression. Hermione came up to him and grabbed his hand, bringing him out of his thoughts. Molly watched as he nodded at her before reaching up to wipe her tears with his fingers. It was such a tender moment for them, and Molly was glad to see it. So many times throughout the past year, she worried that it would be Ron they'd be burying in the countryside near the Burrow.
Despite the twin's reckless behavior, Ron was the one Molly worried about the most. Being one of the most wanted wizards on Voldemort's agenda, he was in constant peril, and not being able to protect him was so hard. He, Harry and Hermione gave her more gray hair than all of the others combined.
She sniffed, then wiped her nose again as Charlie hugged her and Percy grabbed her hand. They're safe, she told herself for the thousandth time, but her heart still hurt. No one should ever have to bury their own child.
The service was over, she realized as Arthur came up to her and pulled her into a hug. His strong arms gave her strength, even as she sobbed over her lost son. She opened her eyes and saw George staring down into the grave, just as his brother had done a few moments ago. He looked so lost, so devastated. He and Fred were so close, always in tune with each other, to the point where they finished each other's sentences. It was eerie sometimes, but Molly loved them all the more for their playfulness. They brought happiness to even the worst situations.
There was no happiness now. The light had gone out of George's world and Molly grieved for him just as she grieved for Fred. She pulled away from Arthur and went over to stand next to George, her heart breaking into yet another piece as she pulled him into her embrace. He hugged her tightly, almost as if he needed something to hang on to. Molly would give him that. Whatever it took to protect her children, she'd be there for them.
He pulled back and nodded, but Molly saw through the act. Still, she knew he needed his space, so she reached up to smooth her hand over his hair and smiled at him, then turned to follow Arthur as he led the way.
They walked toward the Burrow while their children followed behind, and Molly couldn't help but think of how proud she was of her family. Percy stuck to his guns even when he was wrong. The fact that he came back to his family when he was needed instilled even more pride. Bill still kept on fighting despite his wounds and the scars he bore to this day, while Fleur took on her own battles as she stood by her husband and his cause. Ginny, Charlie, George and Fred all took a stand against the evil that threatened their world and fought for what they believed in. But it was Ron, along with Harry and Hermione, that Molly was most proud of, although she would never admit it to anyone else, especially her other children. Because of Ron's actions and bravery, his name was added to three different history books. The Weasleys were no longer looked down upon, and in fact, the family name stood for something once again.
Molly stopped and looked back, her gaze landing on the wildflowers that grew just past the gravesite where her son was buried. It seemed fitting somehow, she thought with a teary smile. The flowers were a testimony that life went on despite being mowed down in their prime. And just like the flowers, her son's name would live on - in the marble memorial erected to honor those who died in the battle, and in the lives of his family. That thought cheered her a little as she turned back toward her home.
A testimony that life goes on no matter what. Fred would have loved it.
Part 3 - Narcissa
Dark clouds billowed in the distance, while traces of sunlight illuminated the curtains. Narcissa glanced up at the clouds, wondering when her husband and son would be home. The trip to the Ministry shouldn't have taken this long. She continued to stare out the window as she reached up to touch the velvet fabric that framed it. They should be home by now.
Thunder rumbled through the air as a flash of lightning took her by surprise. She glanced once more into the courtyard outside her window, then turned and walked over to the fireplace. Warmth filled her at once and she rubbed her arms in response. She would be glad when the storm passed.
She sat down in the chair, her thoughts now on a different storm. The flames of the fire leapt up toward the chimney reminding her of another time; dark days that were filled with fear and despair. She turned her attention away from the fire and watched as the tiger lilies in the vase on her table bloomed into a brilliant orange splash of color. A bright contrast to the fire that burned in her memories of that night in the woods, the night the Dark Lord died.
She shivered again as she thought about her betrayal. How the Dark Lord must have hated her when he realized she had lied to him about that Potter boy. But Narcissa knew where her loyalties lie. Her son came before anyone, and the Dark Lord had already shown her he would kill Draco with no concern for anyone else. Her family's fate had been decided the day she learned of Lucius' "punishment." That was the day self-preservation kicked in and she decided to take matters into her own hands.
Lightning lit up the interior of her home, but Narcissa ignored it. She wondered again what could be keeping her family at the Ministry. She tried to relax, knowing that they were safe now that Lord Voldemort was dead, but she still harbored a dread that the Ministry could change their minds about the exoneration of her family's crimes as Death Eaters.
She shivered despite the warmth of the fire on the hearth. The Potter boy had saved them when he testified that they had indeed betrayed Lord Voldemort, but Narcissa knew that even though Potter's word was as good as gold to the current Ministry, the other Death Eaters would have no qualms in persecuting the Malfoys if it meant freedom from Azkaban.
She stood up at that, and walked over to the mantle. Placing her hand on the smooth wood, she looked up at the family portrait that hung on the wall over the fireplace. They meant everything to her. She couldn't lose them.
She whirled around when the door in the hallway opened, letting in a gust of wind that made its way into the room she stood in. Relief washed over her when Draco called out to announce his arrival.
"Mother. We're home."
She found them in the entrance hall, hanging up their coats, while their new house elf bustled around to clean up the water that dripped on the floor.
"Out of my way," Lucius snarled. The elf scampered off, but Narcissa paid little attention to it. She came up to help Draco, her long fingers clasping the coat and hung it up as her husband told her what happened. "The Ministry is in turmoil," he said with a sneer. "Muggleborn coming back to work there, vacancies created by those loyal to the Dark Lord, and Kingsley was as unsympathetic to my very legitimate claims..."
Narcissa watched as he turned away to glare at the wall. He was no longer the cowed man that failed the Dark Lord, and this pleased her. Their family name was currently a disgrace in the wizarding world, but this would not be the case in the near future if Narcissa and her husband had anything to do with it. They had money and the superior knowledge they needed to wield their power over the others. It was just a matter of time before the Malfoys could once again hold their heads up amongst those who were in power.
"Potter was there," Draco told her with a sneer that rivaled his father's. "They've hired him and Weasley on as Aurors." He turned to her, and she was surprised to see that the look in his eyes defied the sneer on his face. Respect, she thought, as Draco continued on with the farce. "I'm surprised the mudblood wasn't there."
"You would do well to be careful in how you speak of Potter outside our home," Lucius said, a sentiment that Narcissa shared vehemently. Draco shrugged and walked away from them. Narcissa shared a look with her husband then went to join her son by the fire.
"He may be of use to us," she said as Lucius came in to stand next to the mantel and stared into the flames. Narcissa sat down in the chair and smiled at her son. He would come through for them, of this she was certain. He was strong, showing signs of following in his father's footsteps in terms of becoming the next head of the Malfoy clan. Her family would survive long into future generations and she smiled at the thought. Family was what drove her to help defeat the Dark Lord. Draco would not let her down.
Thunder rolled outside her home, but it didn't seem so ominous to Narcissa now that her family was home. The flowers on the table next to her chair caught her attention, reminding her of the beauty of a rising sun. They were past the sunrise, she thought as her family surrounded her in silence. They may need to start over, but they would succeed. She reached over to stroke a petal of a bright orange tiger lily and smiled to herself. Starting over was better than ending on a sour note.
Part 4 - Augusta
Large drops of rain pelted the glass in the window, leaving tracks on the panes that reminded her of tears. Augusta stared out the window, wondering when it would stop, then decided that it really didn't matter. Everyone was safe now.
She hummed a little tune as she turned away from the window and went back to the task of cleaning her house. With a flick of her wand, the duster shook itself slightly, then raced off to tackle the dust that had settled on the tables and shelves. Thunder rumbled in the distance, while the rain continued to pelt the house, but she didn't seem to notice. Her glance fell to the photograph on the table. A man and a woman waved at her from the picture, while the baby in the woman's arms smiled happily. They were so happy, oblivious to the storm on the horizon, the one that would take everything away from them - their son, their livelihood and their sanity. Augusta frowned as she thought about her only son and his wife. They were lost to her, had been from the moment she got the horrible news from the doctors at St. Mungos.
She shook her head and focused on the baby in the picture. "You'd be so proud of your son," she told the people in the photograph. "So proud," she said again as memories of her own doubts filtered in. She worried for years that her grandson was a lost cause when it came to magic. Unable to accept that he could be a squib, she pushed him to keep trying, always wondering if the least little thing was due to magic, disappointed when it turned out to be a coincidence. Her gaze went to the window as she remembered the day her brother Algie accidentally dropped Neville out of a window, and the child lived to tell the story. She smiled at that memory. The family celebrated for days afterward, while Augusta held on to her happiness for weeks.
But Neville's magical ability wasn't up to par for the longest time, a fact that irritated Augusta to no end. It was a constant reminder of her failure to raise him as the wizard she wanted him to be. He tried, but he never could live up to his father's abilities, despite her best efforts to mold him into something more than a mediocre wizard.
All that changed when he went to Hogwarts, she reminded herself. He had played a major role in the rebellion against Voldemort's henchman, even stood up to the Dark Lord and killed his snake. Pride filled her as she remembered that day. Her grandson, the child of Frank and Alice Longbottom, had made a name for himself. And in doing so, proved his worth to all those people who pitied him, and her, during his early years.
Thunder rolled in the distance as the object of her thoughts walked into the room. "Hi Gran," Neville said. He had a vase of flowers in his hand and her eyes misted as she realized he had brought them for her. "Happy birthday!"
"Oh, Neville," she said as she made a valiant effort to hide her emotions from him. It wouldn't do to let anyone see her like this. "Heather," she said gruffly, still trying to act normally. "It’s my favourite. But you already knew that, didn't you?"
"Yes Gran," he said in a long-suffering tone. His smile was genuine though and Augusta's heart melted on the spot. How she loved that boy. She took the vase, while admiring the white flowers that nestled in with the greenery he had mixed in to create a beautiful arrangement. "They're beautiful."
"You're worth it," he said, the sincerity in his voice tugged at her heart. She placed the vase on a table near the window, noticing as she did that the rain had stopped. She opened the window to let in some air then turned to ask Neville about his day. She stared at him instead, noticing how much he had grown. The cuts and bruises on his face were memories now, along with the insecurities he used to carry around on his shoulders. He stood before her, tall and proud, and the memories of those days she nagged and pushed him to be something seemed so long ago.
"Neville," she said, as she came up to straighten his collar. "I want you to know how proud I am of you." Her words made a difference, she could tell. The gratitude in his eyes gave her the incentive to continue. "You are so much like your parents. More so than they ever were." She brushed off the lapel of his jacket, as she said, "They would be so proud if they were in their right mind."
Neville smiled sadly, then shook his head as he looked away for a moment. "They'll never know that Voldemort is dead," he said as he turned back to look at her. "It's sad to think that they won't ever realize their efforts were not in vain."
"True," Augusta said. "But you were the one who made a difference. That's what counts."
Neville seemed to think about that for a moment, then gave her a suspicious look. "You okay, Gran? You're not sick or anything, are you?"
Augusta smiled at her grandson. "Yes, Neville," she said with exasperation, then decided to explain. "You don't need me to push you anymore. You've grown into a man that is strong and courageous and smart. It's all I ever wanted for you."
"I come by it naturally," he said with a smile. "I can't tell you how proud I was of you when I heard you took on that Death Eater and came out the winner." The smile turned into a cheeky grin as he added, "I got this scar on my cheek when I bragged about it to the Carrows."
Augusta tried to look stern, although she had to admit she was pleased to hear that the feeling was mutual. "You should have been more careful," she said. "I heard those two were brutal."
"Yeah," he said with a nod, then shrugged. "What's done is done. I'm going to go see Mum and Dad today. Do you want to go with me?"
She nodded, even though she had a lot planned for the day. It would be good to go see Frank again, even if he didn't seem to understand what was going on for the most part. Besides, she never missed the chance to brag about her grandson, and there might be a few nurses at St. Mungo who hadn't heard her version of the story. "Let me finish up here and we'll go."
Neville nodded then turned to leave, but stopped at the door and turned to her. "Happy birthday," he said with that crooked grin that always melted her heart.
"Go," she said with what she hoped was a stern look on her face. His smile grew wider but he left her to finish her chores. The duster took off again, but Augusta paid little heed to it. Her attention was on the flowers Neville gave her. She straightened a few stems, then fingered the soft white petals of the flowers. She had read somewhere that white heather represented wishes that came true. Perhaps that’s the reason she liked them so much. Her wishes for Neville seemed like a lost cause when he was little, but hope dies hard. She pulled one of the flowers out and held it close, inhaling the fragrance as she realized it didn't matter now. Her wish had already come true. He had brought honor to the family name again. She put the flower back and went about her chores as a breeze came in through the window, bringing in the scent of rain washed earth. A new beginning, she thought. It was time.
Part 5 - Petunia
The package sat on her kitchen worktop, stark and bleak amongst the gleaming appliances that lined up against the wall. She stared at it as fear gripped her heart, knowing deep down what was inside the long white box. She went over to the sink and grabbed a dish towel to wipe down the already pristine clean counter, her eyes resting on the package every few minutes.
This was the third time in a year she had received a box just like this one. The first one delivered last Halloween and the second on the last day of July. It was no coincidence that another package landed on her doorstep this morning. She looked over at the calendar hanging on the wall, smiling grimly at the date, October 31st. Petunia Dursley was no fool. She knew what the gifts represented. How could she not? She stopped wiping down her counter and laid her hands to rest on the box while memories of two little girls playing in the sun raced through her thoughts.
"All right," she said firmly. She ran her hands over the box, then steeled her resolve. Maybe it was something different this time. Maybe Vernon sent her the flowers. Yes, that could be it. She took a deep breath and opened the box, only slightly disappointed that she was wrong about Vernon.
Lilies again. Long-stemmed white lilies lay on a bed of green tissue paper and Petunia had to look away. Lily, she thought as anger welled up inside. What purpose did it serve for her to find a reminder of a dead sister on her doorstep? Sure it was the anniversary of her death, but why would anyone bother to do this?
Her thoughts immediately turned to Lily's boy, but Petunia discarded that thought the minute it came to mind. He couldn't wait to be rid of her and Vernon, a feeling that was shared by all. Petunia knew he wouldn't care if she remembered Lily or not.
No. No, it had to be someone else.
"Mum?" Petunia's heart leapt as she turned to greet her son. "What's the matter?"
"Nothing, Dudders," she said as she gazed fondly at her only son. "Look at you," she went on to say as she gave him the once over. "You are so handsome in that suit and tie." She tried to hold back the tears to tell him how proud she was of him, but she never really was very good at that and finally gave in. "Vernon!" she said through her tears. "Come see." Vernon walked in with a paper in his hand and Petunia smiled at Dudley. "Our little boy has grown into such a fine handsome man."
"That he has," Vernon said, his own voice laced with emotion. He smiled at Dudley, patted him on the back and said, "Off to your first job interview are you?" Dudley nodded while Petunia sniffed into her handkerchief. He grew up way too soon.
"You'll win that job," Vernon predicted proudly. Petunia had to agree. Dudley was perfect for the job. All he had to do was convince the owner of the store of that fact and he'll be hired on the spot.
"What's this?" Vernon asked as he went over to sit down at the table. He had stopped and was pointing at the box on the counter. "Someone sending you more flowers?" He tried to look nonchalant as he asked, "Is there something you're not telling me, Petunia?"
"No," she snapped, the old familiar anger rising up as she once again remembered what the flowers represented. "Someone's idea of a nasty trick." She glared at the flowers then resolutely decided on the spot to throw them in the garbage as another memory played out in her mind - that of Petunia turning her back on her sister when Lily boarded a train for "that" school she went off to.
"A nasty trick?" Vernon went over to rattle the box then set it back down on the counter apparently debating on whether to push the issue or not.
Petunia decided to explain it once and for all because she had a bad feeling that this wouldn't be the last time she received flowers from the unknown. "Look at them, Vernon," she said as she came over to the counter and reached into the box to pull the flowers out. She waved them in his face as she said, "They're lilies. Lily of the Valley." He looked at them, then back at her, obviously not making the connection. "Lilies sent to me on the anniversary of my sister's death," she snarled as she shook the flowers again. His face finally registered understanding, but she went on. "No note. Nothing at all to explain who would send them to me. But I know why they're sending them." She laid the flowers back into the box carefully then looked up at her husband. "They want to make sure that I never forget." She went back to looking at the flowers and found herself saying, "As if I ever would."
"Harry?" Petunia looked over at her son and shook her head.
"I doubt it. He'd never done anything like this before." She shook her head then said, "No. I think it's someone else."
"Well whoever it is, they'd better put a stop to it," Vernon demanded as he went over to sit down at the table. "Toss them out, Petunia, and come have breakfast."
Petunia nodded, but she left the box on the counter. More memories assailed her as they ate breakfast and as she cleaned up the kitchen afterward. The scent of the lilies warmed the room while Petunia finally pulled out the vase she inherited from her mother and filled it with water. The flowers were too beautiful to just throw away, she reasoned as she arranged them to her satisfaction. She took them to the lounge and set them on the table in the corner, right next to the pretty jeweled trinket box she had acquired some time ago. More arranging as she positioned the vase and box artfully on the lace doily, finally stepping back to view her handiwork.
Nice, she thought with a nod. She turned to walk toward the kitchen, intending to fix lunch for Dudley who should be home soon. The scent of the flowers followed her into the kitchen, a smell that reminded her yet again of a 5 year-old sitting on her bed in the room she shared with her sister, laughing with delight as her sister made a doll dance along the bedcovers and over to the trinket box on the chest at the end of the bed. Oh how she wished she was that young again - a time before she came to realize what her sister really was.
"Rubbish," Petunia said with a vicious swipe of the wash rag across the counter. She tossed the flower box into the garbage resolutely refusing to admit to any feelings for a sister she hated. But the flowers stayed in the vase for several weeks, long after they should have died, kept alive by the magic Petunia and Vernon refused to believe in. Tall and beautiful, they stood on the table next to the trinket box Petunia had stolen from her sister just days before they took her to the train that one last time.
Part 6 - Andromeda
Sunshine shone through the window while her lace curtains fluttered in the breeze. Andromeda stared out at the yard wondering how she would be able to go on with life. She had lost almost everyone in the war, and she sometimes wondered if it all had been worth it.
Her gaze landed on the pond that had once been the landing pad for Hagrid when he brought Harry Potter to her home for safety. Ted had been all for aiding in the cause, despite Andromeda's worries, and now she was left alone and lost without her husband and daughter.
Tears sprang to her eyes at that thought. It just didn't seem fair that she had to lose those she loved more than anything. She wiped away the tears, determined to be strong for her grandson, the only survivor besides herself. He was her world now, and she would do anything to protect Dora's baby. Anything.
The breeze felt cool on her face and Andromeda closed her eyes to calm herself. The sweet smell of lavender wafted in through the window, reminding her of the time her daughter hid among the plants that grew so plentiful in the sunny part of her yard. Dora had been so young, Andromeda remembered, little enough to stoop low and blend in with hair the same color as the flowers. Ted had been the one to find her, and Andromeda smiled at the memory of the laughter they all shared when Dora hugged her dad then bounded off to hide again.
It was a bittersweet smile though. Oh how she missed them. The curtains fluttered in again, sending dancing shafts of light across the walls and floor of her lounge, a sight that used to bring her peace. Not so much anymore.
"None of that," she said aloud, hoping to convince herself that she needed to get past this and soon. Little Teddy needed her to be strong and it was time she was there for him. With that thought in mind, she went to check on him.
The window in his room was open to let in the fresh summer breeze and the scent of lavender calmed her as she stared down at her grandson. He was sound asleep, unaware of the turmoil that dwelled in her heart. She reached over and ran the back of her fingers over his cheek as love swelled up in her heart. He was all she had now.
"You'll grow strong," she said softly to the sleeping baby. "I'll keep you safe." She owed that to Dora and Remus. Teddy was a living legacy of their love and loyalty. It was the least she could do to honor her family.
A low rumbling drifted in through the window. She looked toward the sound, noticing that the sun had gone behind some clouds. A storm, she thought with a sigh. Nymphadora loved storms.
She went over to the window and closed it as more memories of her only daughter drifted through her thoughts. Andromeda had been so proud of Dora. Bright and beautiful, her daughter had accomplished so much, even became an Auror despite her clumsy nature. Andromeda brought her hand to her mouth at that thought and dropped her head in sadness as tears welled up in her eyes. She brought her gaze back up to the window and sighed heavily as she battled the overwhelming grief that filled her heart. She would not let this bring her down.
Fussy sounds from the crib had her rushing over to pick Teddy up. "Shh, little one," she crooned. Everything will be all right." She pulled him close, inhaling the sweet smell of baby powder and soap as she smoothed her hand over his indigo hair. "Blue," she said with a smile. "Your mother preferred pink."
Teddy gurgled in response and put his fist into his mouth. Andromeda smiled softly. She walked back over the window to look out over the yard, noticing the sun had come out again. "We will make your parents proud," she said to the baby in her arms. The lavender flowers swayed in the breeze, their color bright against the sun, while memories of long ago faded in the dark recess of her mind. It was time to look forward, she thought with a firm resolution.
"Come," she told her grandson. "Let's go get you something to eat." She smiled down at him, his hair now the color of grass. "And afterward, I'll read your mother's letter to you again." Teddy cooed against his fist, while Andromeda walked toward the door, at peace with herself for the moment. She knew it would take a long time to get over the overwhelming loss, but the baby in her arms gave her purpose, something to hold onto when times were too rough to bear.
She turned back when she reached the door and smiled sadly at the photograph of Dora and Remus on the table next to the window. They had died that day, but despite her sadness, Andromeda knew that they had died bravely, fighting for a cause they all believed in.
It was all worth it, she decided as she thought about the future and her grandson. She'd make sure of it.
Part 7 - Nymphadora
My Dearest Teddy,
This is such a hard letter to write, because I know that if you are reading this, it means that I didn't survive the battle. But it needs to be written. You deserve so much more than a life of wondering what your mother was like. Hopefully, your father will be able to fill in most of the blanks, but if he isn't there, this letter is for you.
Where do I start? Should I tell you about my childhood? Or why I decided to join the Aurors and then the fight against He Who Must Not Be Named?
I think, instead, that I will start with you. You have no idea how much I love you, my sweet baby. Your birth made everything worthwhile, even the battle I will fight when the time comes. Your father will probably tell that this is not true, that I should have stayed home, but don't listen to him about that, okay? He's always trying to do what he thinks is best for us, even when he's wrong. I love him dearly, but sometimes...
Anyway, I just need to be there, sweetheart. I've worked too hard to let someone else fight my battles. And if we defeat the Dark Lord, WHEN we defeat the Dark Lord, the future will be bright and you will never have to know what it's like to live in fear.
I know that this will be hard for you to understand, but the war against the evil Dark Lord and his henchmen is one that needs to be fought. You're too young to know what we've put up with during the past 10 or 12 years. These are dark times, Teddy. People are terrified. Muggleborn and half-bloods have to hide their heritage for fear of being murdered or losing their families. Pure bloods who hide their family members face the same fate. No one is safe, not even those in high political seats. It has finally come to this, with thanks to your godfather, Harry Potter, and I need to be there to help.
But I am not all about war and fighting. I am also a mother who only wants the best for you. I like quidditch, flying, the color pink and have the unfortunate reputation of being the clumsiest auror in the ministry. I also happen to adore your father, who would sit and talk to me for hours whenever we had the time. He's a good man, Teddy. Yes, he has a dark side that only comes out with the full moon (gets quite hairy while he's at it), but for the most part, he has a heart of gold. Smart, too. He was a teacher at Hogwarts for a year, and really good at it too, to hear his students talk about it.
He'll be fighting alongside me when the time comes Teddy. I can't predict the future, but I want so much for him to live. To be with you as you grow. I want this more than anything. But I also have a practical side, and I know that it's quite possible he'll be killed. In fact, it's quite possible we'll both be killed. I just want to make sure you understand how much we love you Ted Remus Lupin. You are our world. Always remember that.
I've left a little gift for you in your copy of The Tales of Beedle the Bard. It's a thistle, all dried up and spindly, but it's the flower your father gave to me when he finally realized that I was right and that we should be together. It took him long enough, I have to tell you, but I've kept the flower all this time and now I give it to you. It's become my favourite, and I hope you keep it to remember me whenever you have a low time in your life.
Your father is here now, telling me it's time to go to headquarters. I'll end this now Teddy. Just please remember that I will always be with you, in heart and spirit.
Part 8 - Fleur
Fleur Weasley loved her home at Shell Cottage. She and Bill had renovated the inside to their satisfaction, making it warm and cozy, and the perfect place to raise a family. But just as comforting to her was the scenery that surrounded her home. Wild and beautiful, the cliffs and the ocean that bordered her house gave her a sense of belonging. She hoped she'd never have to leave.
She stood outside the door, her hand cradling her swollen belly as she stared out toward the sea. Gray clouds hovered over the horizon, stark against the green grass and the blue of the ocean. Wind blew across the land, swirling the fabric of her skirt against her legs, while long strands of hair whipped across her face. She loved the feel of the wind. It made her feel strong and alive. She lifted her gaze to the sky and hugged her arms around her shoulders. She was finally at peace.
It hadn't always been this peaceful, she thought as she looked over at the grave Harry had dug to bury the house elf. Dark days veiled her life ever since she came to work at Gringotts, and then throughout her visit with Bill's family. Everyone was worried, even the goblins, but it didn't really seem to hit home until her Bill had been attacked. Fleur frowned at that memory. She had been so worried that he had died. She shivered and pulled the edges of her shawl tight to ward off the chill. Those were scary times.
But those days were over. She ran her hand over stomach and smiled down at the baby she carried. It would be a boy, she decided. And he'd grow up strong and capable, just like his father. Her smile turned into a frown as she turned her gaze back to the distant storm, the dark clouds swirling around reminding her of the war at Hogwarts. It had been cloudy that day, too,
She had almost lost Bill during that terrible war. She shivered again as she remembered the sight of him when everyone gathered in the main hall while they waited for Voldemort's final attack. Blood covered the sleeve of his shirt, but it was the feral look in his eyes that scared her the most. It seemed as if he enjoyed the battles he fought.
But he came back to her, Fleur reminded herself. The wild look in his eyes dissolved into sorrow, then he pulled her into a warm embrace as he buried his face into her neck and whispered that he was okay. The baby within her kicked as Fleur stared off into the distance. He had come back to her and now they had a baby to look forward to. A future filled with promise and life, a long way from the fear and death that shadowed them for so long.
That thought cheered her. She looked down again, but this time her gaze took in a patch of bright yellow iris that grew along the path. She reached down to pick one and brought it up to her nose to inhale the sweet flowery scent as the wind blew her hair back over her shoulder. This was her home, she thought with a contended smile. Always will be.
The baby kicked once more and Fleur rubbed her belly. "You will be safe, my little one," she crooned in her native language. Her gaze turned to the sky where she saw a ray of sun streaming down through a gap in the clouds. "We will all be safe."
Part 9 - The Celebration
The fire rose up from the depths of the pit built especially for the ceremony. Bright sparks of purple, gold and blue danced along the tips of the flames, while an orange haze illuminated the stage erected in the middle of the arena. Witches and wizards from all over Europe stood in attendance, the excited babble ringing loud enough to be heard over the deep booms the firecrackers made as they lit up the sky.
This was a day of celebration. A day to honor the heroes, the dead and the survivors. Peace had come to the wizarding world, and this was the event of the century, especially to the group of people who stood next to the stage. They were the true heroes; the ones who actually fought for the freedom everyone in the arena were celebrating.
A multitude of flowers rained down from the skies, scattering their petals over the ground while Molly Weasley fussed over her children, straightening Ron's coat and Percy's collar. "Don't slouch, Ron," she said with a distracted sigh as she gave George's attire a weary glance. "We are Weasleys and we are proud of it. Never forget that."
"Yes Mum," George and Charlie said with rolled eyes and in unison. Molly smiled at the amazed look George gave his brother, but before a fight could break out, Fleur uttered a sharp moan. Molly and Bill were at her side in an instant.
"It eez nothing," Fleur said with a shaky smile. "The baby, he is strong."
"Still sure it will be a boy?" Andromeda Tonks said, as she came up to join them. Fleur nodded while Ginny came up to take Teddy into her arms.
"He's grown so much," Ginny said with a smile at the baby. She bounced him as she looked up at his grandmother. "I can't get over how much he looks like Tonks."
"That he does," Andromeda said, her own smile gracing her lovely features. "He does have his father's eyes though." The smile dimmed somewhat as she said, "I miss them so much."
"I know," Molly said quietly. They all fell into silence then. It seemed they had nothing more to say. The dull roar of the crowd seemed to magnify the sadness that enveloped the group by the stage, but the silence didn't last long. Three more people joined their group.
"He was right in there in middle of all that," Augusta Longbottom said. "Did you see how he stood right up to Voldemort?"
"Of course I did, Augusta," Minerva McGonagal said with a long-suffering sigh. "I was there, remember?"
"He wasn't afraid one bit, were you Neville?" Neville shook his head, while his grandmother went on blithely, "And then whap!" She swung her arms around to show them all how Neville killed the snake. Harry and Neville shared amused glances, as Augusta continued on with her story. "Just like his father. Neville showed them all."
"I'm kind of enjoying this," Neville leaned over to whisper to Harry and Ron. "She was always so disappointed in me when I was younger." He shrugged and said, "This is much better."
Harry and Ron both nodded vehemently, but then swung around when Ginny said, "What are they doing here?"
Narcissa Malfoy stood next to her husband with her hand on her son's shoulder. She held her head up proudly, but there was a noticeable difference in their attitudes. A difference that set them apart from the people who watched them with interest. Narcissa nodded regally at Molly and Andromeda, then turned with her family and walked toward the stands.
"Ladies and gentlemen," a voice boomed out over the crowds. It was apparent that the ceremony was about to begin, and all eyes turned to the stage. The Minister of Magic had to repeat himself several times before silence reigned, but the ceremony began shortly thereafter. Pictures of the slain were splashed across the sky, the images smiling and waving as if they were still here. Molly brought her hand to her mouth when her son's image made a goofy face. Tears welled up in her eyes, blinding her to everything but her pain.
Andromeda took Teddy from Ginny's arms and hugged him tight as his parents smiled at them from their photograph. Augusta put her arm around her friend's shoulder and handed her a lace handkerchief.
A moment of silence was conducted when the last photograph made its way across the sky. It was an eerie sound that pierced the souls of those who still grieved. But the moment soon erupted into cheers as pictures of Harry, Ron and Hermione rose up from the arena's floor.
Monica Granger and her husband stood quietly next to Arthur Weasley, honored that she and her husband were allowed to be among the celebration. "The only Muggles ever to grace this place," Arthur Weasley told them. She gripped Hermione's hand tightly as her daughter's image flashed across the sky. Her only daughter was a hero in the eyes of millions of people. The tears and the smile on Monica's face reflected her pride.
Hermione let go of her mother's hand and went to join her friends as they all walked up to the stage. The women in the group watched as their sons and daughters rose up from the stage on a pedestal. Harry, Ron, Hermione, Ginny, Luna, Neville and all the others who had fought bravely for the right to live their lives free of the fear brought on by the Dark Lord grasped hands and raised their arms high to announce the victory that was theirs. It was a triumphant moment, shadowed only by the memories of those who weren't there to celebrate.
The women smiled at each other amidst the deafening roar of the crowd. This was their defining moment as well, for they knew they had taught their children well. Another shower of petals rained down on them to herald the beginning of a new era and they linked their arms together when it came time for them to go up on the stage.
"Teach the children quietly For some day our sons and daughters Will rise up and fight while we stood still."
-- Silent Running Words by Mike Rutherford and Bryan Robertson