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Atonement by MistyLane
I don't own Harry Potter, JKR and Warner Bros do.
Chapter 1 by MistyLane
To start at the beginning, there first must be an ending.
“If we don't end war, war will end us. “ – H.G. Wells
The cost of war could never be repaid. Their side had ‘won’ but can one truly feel joy, as you lower a coffin into the ground? Can you ever take pleasure in a victory that claimed the lives of countless friends and family?
The swell of victory died almost immediately with Fred, Remus, Tonks, Snape, and Colin. They were all buried on the grounds of Hogwarts, entombed near a shrine depicting how much their sacrifice meant to the Wizarding World. There were different mourners, of course. The Weasleys and their kin were gathered around Fred’s grave. Harry stood before Snape’s, the magnitude of the event sufficiently dimming his spotlight. No one stood in front of Crabbe’s grave, save his mother, and Draco Malfoy. Ginny Weasley reluctantly left the side of her own family, briefly, to go to Colin’s family. Colin and Ginny were study partners at the worst of times, and firm friends in the best of times. She murmured her condolences to his parents, gave Dennis’s hand a squeeze. Andromeda Black, and her husband, Ted Tonks, holding baby Teddy, stood at the graves of Remus Lupin and Nymphadora Tonks. The baby gurgled, not comprehending the serious nature of their visit.
Onlookers and mourners slowly left, each person stayed until they were ready to leave. Ginny did what she could—they all did, really, but the one who felt Fred’s loss the most, could only be George. He was grim, a shadow of his former self without his twin brother. In the end, it was Ginny, standing with George, silent tears running down their cheeks, brilliant red hair contrasting with their funeral black. Suddenly, George walked away, briskly, going back toward the castle, able to look no longer.
Draco stood silently over Crabbe’s grave, his jaw set. Crabbe and Goyle were called many things. Flunkies, side-kicks—Draco wouldn’t have had half the social power he had in his year if he wasn’t constantly flanked, Goyle on his left, Crabbe on his right. Crabbe’s father couldn’t be at the funeral, since he was preparing to go to trial for his crimes. The Malfoy family was intact, not by Lucius’ hand, but by Narcissa’s. Harry Potter had vouched for them, and they were able to remain together. People had been shocked by this at first, but no more shocked than when Harry had revealed the truth regarding Severus Snape. Draco had found that Snape was really the one who had saved him, and his family. A debt that could never be repaid.
Ginny stole a quick glance, seeing the graveyard mostly deserted, save for a man with hair that revealed him to be Draco Malfoy. She frowned, trying to figure out why he was still there. She doubted that he would say anything untoward to her here, on this sacred ground, but she cautiously edged forward, seeing he stood in front of Crabbe’s grave. He heard someone step forward, but didn’t turn around to look. Instead, he began to speak.
“No one would know this, but Crabbe was as much a brother to me as anyone else,” he volunteered softly. They were marked during the same ceremony, that hideous tattoo emblazoned on their forearm to remind them that they no longer belonged to themselves, but to Voldemort. They had been side by side for the past six years. Ginny stopped, regarding Draco silently, her arms folded in front of her.
“It was my leadership that killed him. He was my responsibility,” Draco said, bitterly.
“It was Crabbe’s wand that killed him, Malfoy. He cast the Fiendfyre, without knowing how powerful it was.”
Draco turned slightly, looking at the youngest Weasley. His gray eyes met her brown ones, and as it started to rain, he conjured an umbrella out of his wand, holding it aloft over them. The raindrops landed softly on the earth, rolling off the umbrella. The eternal flame lit in the monument before the graves would never be extinguished.
“I’m sorry for your loss, Weasley.”
“I’m sorry for yours, Malfoy.”
“May I escort you back to the castle?”
With a nod, she walked back to the castle, where the Great Hall was gilded in black and white mourning, denoting reverence to the fallen. She left his side to go to her family, and he took his leave, walking to the apparition point in the rain.
Ginny rejoined her family, somber faces on all. Molly instinctively pulled Ginny to her side, giving her shoulder a reassuring rub as she tried to keep the tears away.
George announced softly, “I won’t be re-opening the shop. I don’t see how I can, without Fred. He was always the brains, and I was the action. I won’t ever be whole again, not without him.”
Charlie put his arm around George, nodding. The rest of the family was silent. Harry Potter, a fixture of the family turned away for a moment, his eyes on Dumbledore’s chair that still stood in the center of the staff table.
As the Weasleys began to leave, Harry caught Ginny’s arm, signaling for her to stay behind for a moment.
“Ginny…” he began.
“I already know what you’re going to say, Harry. You’re leaving.”
“It’s not that I’m leaving. I can’t really face your family—this war was mine with Voldemort, and so many were lost because of it. I’m going to return to the Muggle world, and I’m pitching my wand in the Black Lake.”
“I don’t think you have to do that--”
“I do. I’ll only be heralded as a hero in this world, and a hero is the exact opposite of what I feel I am. I’m just saying that we can’t continue our relationship. Every time I look at you, I see the Weasley family. If Ron hadn’t sat next to me on the train seven years ago, Fred would still be here. So would a lot of others. Teddy would still have his parents. How can I look that child in the eye years from now, and explain my part in all of this?”
“But Ron wouldn’t be alive if not for you. Nor would my dad. Don’t you see that we are your family now, whether you want to run away from it or not?”
Harry exhaled. “I just wanted to tell you that I’m leaving. I can’t tell Ron or Hermione, they would just want to come along. I need to heal, and I can’t do that, when I’m being constantly reminded of this. I’m more than The Boy who Lived, and I need a chance to figure out who Harry Potter is.”
Ginny pressed her lips together, defeated.
“Keep in touch with Mum, so she won’t worry,” she acquiesced, getting one last look at him.
He nodded. “I will. Take care of yourself, Ginny Weasley.”
“Be careful, Harry Potter.”
Disclaimer: All publicly recognizable characters and settings are the property of their respective owners. The original characters and plot are the property of the author. No money is being made from this work. No copyright infringement is intended.