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Kjkit - Harry Potter and the Marcello School
Chapter 53 - Celebrations
Chapter 53: Celebrations.
Harry was walking peacefully along the woodland path that led down to the lake at Marcello. In the distance, he could hear laughter and the sound of a splash as something landed in the water. The day was warm and sunny, and he wasn't surprised to walk into the clearing to find his friends leaning over the water to retrieve the ball without getting wet.
Harry raised his hand, and with the tiniest amounts of concentration created a soft breeze that blew the ball back to shore.
"Harry!" Conway exclaimed, and his other friends surrounded him, welcoming him with hugs and slaps on the back.
He noticed that there were a lot of Hogwarts students in the clearing as well, and he greeted Hermione, Ginny and Ron with small hugs before shaking hands with the other male members of the DA and sharing the occasional peck on the cheek with the girls.
The boy turned to greet Remus, who had not left his side whilst he had been recuperating in bed at Hogwarts. The two shared a warm shake of the hands, and a quick one-armed hug before Remus turned and allowed Harry to meet the other adults that had been congregating around a table filled with drinks and food.
He shared easy banter with the older Weasleys, laughing as Molly Weasley gave him a kiss on both cheeks before pulling him into a motherly hug. He eagerly returned the bear hug, grateful that the whole of the Weasley family had escaped the battle unscathed.
Moody, Tonks and the other members of the Order were next in queue for pats on the back and the occasional word of praise before Dumbledore walked up to him. Neither said a word, but exchanged a look that expressed their feelings of relief and respect as they shook hands.
Dumbledore stood aside to reveal Leo standing there. The Marcello Master walked up to Harry, and placed a hand on his shoulder, a strange smile on his face. When Harry questioned this with a look, Leo moved his attention to something behind the boy, and gently exerted some pressure on the boy's chest to get him to turn around.
Harry followed his directions, and his heart stopped in disbelief at what he saw.
Standing in the middle of his circle of friends was Kat. She was wearing her usual loose trousers with a vest-top. Her hair fell in long waves around her shoulders, framing her delicate face, and she had a small white lily tucked behind one ear.
Harry stood in shock as she walked up to him. He was vaguely aware of his male friends snickering behind their hands, and the girls were openly weeping with happiness at their reunion.
"How...?" Harry started to ask, but was stopped as Kat raised her hand and placed cool fingers against his lips.
"This isn't real, Pi." she said. "You're dreaming."
Harry shook his head in disbelief, turning his head into her touch as he was flooded with emotions that made the situation so real.
"No..." he murmured, pressing his lips against the palm of her hand.
"You're sleeping, Pyro." she said again. "This is all a dream."
Harry opened his eyes and stared deeply into her dark eyes, trying to read her emotions. "I've never experienced a dream like this." he said softly, but as he spoke he became aware that everyone else had suddenly disappeared, leaving the two of them alone in the clearing.
He looked back at Kat, taking a tentative step back. He had not had pleasant experiences of other people appearing in visions, and briefly wondered if Voldemort had not died and had found some way to get into Harry's mind without the need for a linking scar.
"Everyone deserves a good dream, now and then, even you." she said with a smile. "I've just come to relay a message, from Sirius, and your parents."
She idly ran a hand up Harry's arm just like she used to do, and Harry couldn't help but shiver as he recalled the more intimate moments they had shared together.
"They just wanted you to know that they are all so proud of you. Not just for getting rid of Voldemort, but for finding the strength to keep going." She looked up at him.
Harry shook his head. "I don't want to keep going." he said. "I want to be with you."
Kat smiled at him sadly. "You can't do that, Pi." she told him. "You once told me that you weren't sure who you were. That your life was being run by people's expectations and the prophecy. Though you now have the chance to be yourself, to do things your own way, your life will still not be your own."
Harry frowned. "What do you mean?" he asked.
Kat looked to her right, where the Sword of Kudos was leaning against the rock that jutted out over the water. "You have to be Doyen." she said. "You can change the way things are run there for the better. And though it would be easy to lose a fight to someone to surrender that responsibility, you also have the elements to think about. You have to find an apprentice to train before you can move on, Pi. There aren't many elementals left in the world, and you can't just let the magic die..."
"So I see you in two-hundred years then, do I?" Harry asked, his eyes filling with unshed tears.
Kat smiled and nodded. "If you're lucky." she said with a small laugh. Then her expression darkened. "Your mother wasn't entirely sure what she did that evening to help you, Pi." she said. "All she remembered was that she so determined to protect you, to make sure that you didn't die. Dumbledore was right in saying that the magic was transformed to do the opposite of what the curse originally intended, but there is no way of knowing the extent of your Phoenix powers..."
Harry stared at her in shock, blinking his eyes once, but not taking the effort to wipe away the two streams of tears that ran down his cheeks. "The burning..." he said, and Kat nodded, weeping freely.
"It may just be a result of the prophecy that was made." she said hopefully. "You know, the bit that implied that only one of you was to die? I guess we won't find out until it is time. But I want you to know that you should live your life as well as you can, don't be hung up on memories of the past, okay?"
Harry shook his head. "I'm not going to forget you, Kat!" he said fiercely.
"I know." Kat replied softly. "But two-hundred years is a very long time to be alone, Pyro. I'll understand if you don't go actively looking for new friends, just don't push anyone aside if they try to get to know you better, okay? Promise me?"
Harry stared at her silently for some time, taking in the way she looked, then smiled a half-smile. "And I thought things would be easy without Voldemort around."
Kat smiled in return. "Now whatever would make you think such a thing?" she joked. "But seriously, life will be easier. You have a great life ahead of you. Now go live it."
She pulled Harry into a warm embrace. "I love you." he whispered into her hair.
Kat stood back and nodded, tears falling freely once more. "I know." she whispered back, before letting go of his hand and walking into the trees, taking one moment to look back at him and smile wistfully before disappearing into their shadows.
Harry opened his eyes to find Remus kneeling over his bed and staring into his face worriedly. As he smiled at the older man in recognition, a wave of relief washed over the ex-werewolf's face and he backed away a little to let Harry sit up.
"Oh, thank Merlin!" Remus exclaimed. "I was just thinking about going downstairs to find Pomfrey for a moment there. What time did the others finally let you get to sleep last night?" he asked.
Harry frowned in sleepy confusion. "Sorry?"
"It took me forever to wake you up." Remus explained. "I thought that maybe it was due to a late night?"
Harry shook his head slightly, remembering the magic he had performed to transfigure the statue. "No, I was having a strange dream." he said hollowly. The details of his dream were rapidly disappearing, taking with them the memory of Kat standing in front of him, her cool hand against his face.
Remus sat on the edge of the bed, looking concerned. "A bad dream?" he asked.
Harry answered negatively. "It just seemed so real, you know?"
Remus nodded. "Look, Harry, if you ever want to talk about anything, you know I'll be there. I may not be able to do much to help you sort through what happened, and probably wouldn't be the best person to give advice, but I know you've been through a lot and I'm always happy to listen."
Harry smiled at him. "I know, Moony." he said, shocking the werewolf with his use of the man's nickname. "And just knowing you are there is more than enough for me."
Remus returned the smile, before giving Harry a quick embrace.
"Do you feel up to coming downstairs now?" he asked.
"What time is it?"
"Mid-afternoon." Remus replied. "But the others insisted that you be allowed to sleep for as long as possible before you came down. I guess they didn't want you to tire yourself out before the big celebrations start later this evening."
"The big unveiling ceremony, right?" Harry asked.
Remus nodded with a sheepish grin. "I guess they told you about that, then?"
"Ron kinda let it slip." Harry said. "Give me a while to have a shower and feel more presentable, and I'll meet you down there."
"Sounds good." Remus said, before reaching over to pick something off of the floor that Harry couldn't see from where he was lying on the bed. "A present from Ginny and Hermione." he explained as he placed a large box on the bed.
Harry looked at him questioningly, but Remus just indicated that he should open the box.
Harry pulled away the string that held the sides together, and pulled out a set of dark red robes that shimmered with black and gold around the cuffs and around the hem. "Wow." he said, noting that the colours matched those of his Phoenix form. "Where did they get these?"
"Madame Malkin's this morning." Remus explained. "They felt that you needed something "proper" to wear to the presentations, and so dragged Conway down to the town this morning to buy these for you."
"They needed an escort?" Harry asked.Remus shook his head. "He was the nearest match to your stature, though a little larger around the chest. I think they had him standing up on that stool for nearly two hours this morning trying on different robes until they found one that they both liked."
"Remind me to thank him." Harry laughed.
Remus laughed with him. "I think it was worth it." he said. "Put them on after your shower, and I'll meet you downstairs. Don't be long."
"I won't." Harry assured him, and swung his legs out of bed as Remus left the room.
Not long after, Harry silently snuck out of a seldom used side-door of the castle, choosing to slip unnoticed into the crowds rather than announcing his arrival by walking through the main entrance. Though he felt reasonably well rested, he knew that it wouldn't be long before his energy would start to ebb, and was thankful he hadn't gone out the front door when he noticed that a platform had been built level with the steps partway down the staircase. If he had exited through the front door he would have had to walk onto the stage, making a big spectacle of himself in the process.
He looked over the large crowd. Though Dumbledore had started off inviting only the Order members and a few select individuals from the Ministry, the word had soon spread, and not much could be done to stop all those that had been involved in the battle inviting their families for the large party.
He heard the clashing of swords, and saw a number of Marcello students demonstrating duels in a small cordoned off area near the banks of the lake. He noticed Brogan and Conway using sticks to teach some younger children how to mock-duel safely, whilst others stood wide-eyed in amazement as a couple of students were using their animagus forms, wandless magic, and swords to duel.
A small explosion further to his right redirected Harry's attention to a large crowd of predominantly younger people. He noticed a bright banner flying high over a temporary stall, and smiled when he recognised the twins advertising and selling their products loudly.
He started towards them, assuming that he would find some of his friends down there, when he was halted by a loud "Hey!"
He turned, smiling as he saw the familiar figure of Neville Longbottom walking towards him.
"Hi, Neville." he said, holding out his hand in anticipation of a friendly greeting.
"Who are you?" Neville asked coldly, and in that instance Harry noticed the wand the Gryffindor held in his hand.
Harry glanced down at himself in confusion. He had left his hair down to let it dry quicker after his shower, and was wearing proper wizarding robes compared to the battle robes people had become accustomed to seeing him wear. Even with the absence of his characteristic scar on his forehead, or the absence of any scars at all for that matter, Harry didn't think he had changed that much.
"It's me." he said. "Harry!"
Neville shook his head angrily, raising his wand threateningly. "Who do you think you are?" he said, stepping forward. "Harry is dead. He gave his life for the protection of the Wizarding world, and here you are, tainting his memory with your cheap impressions!"
Harry shook his head. "But it is really me, Neville." he said weakly, wondering why Dumbledore hadn't told the crowd that he was still alive yet. "I survived!"
Neville shook his head. "I will not have you mocking my friend like that! Harry was a good man, and didn't deserve this." He jabbed his wand at Harry, shouting "Respirato Impedimenta" and sending the saviour of the wizarding world flying back onto the floor, clutching at his chest in an attempt to catch his breath.
Harry was grateful to hear his friends coming up behind him, and felt some hands pull him into a more upright position, pushing him to lean over his knees to relieve the strain on his chest as he started to heave some rasping breaths.
"What do you think you're doing?" Ron asked incredulously. "Harry is not well. You shouldn't be throwing hexes at him!"
Neville stared in shock to where Brogan and Hermione were kneeling on either side of the panting boy. "Harry's alive?" he asked in disbelief.
"Yes. No thanks to you." Todd said coldly.
"He was never dead." Dumbledore said, coming up behind the group, and talking clearly so that the crowds around them could hear his words clearly. "It was never confirmed that he was, and in reality he was recuperating in a private room in the Hospital Ward under the care of Madame Pomfrey."
"I'm sorry, Neville." Harry said breathlessly, as he allowed himself to be hauled to his feet. "I would've had it so that you and the others were told sooner. But I was really ill, and I've only really been able to receive visitors for a few days."
"But how did you survive?" someone from the growing crowd asked loudly to be heard over the casual chatter that was going on.
"I guess it just wasn't my time." Harry said, thinking back to his dream conversation with Kat, and wondering when it would finally be "his time".
"Harry was very critical for a worryingly long time." Dumbledore announced, allowing Harry to finish catching his breath. "We were unsure whether or not he was going to survive, which is why we felt that we shouldn't make his survival public knowledge until now. After Harry gave himself so selflessly in order to remove the threat of Voldemort from our lives we felt that we owed him the time to let himself recuperate, until he felt he was strong enough to present himself to you."
"What about your scar?" Cho Chang asked, indicating towards her forehead as she pushed herself to the front of the crowd to catch a glimpse of the boy-who-lived-yet-again.
"It just started fading when I started to wake up." Harry said, sticking to the story that had created when he was bed-bound. "We think that it's the final proof that Voldemort is gone for good."
A loud shout rippled through the crowd, and people started laughing and clapping to express their happiness, and those standing further back started wandering forward to find out what was going on.
Neville walked up to Harry, his eyes wide with horror with what he had done. "Oh, Harry. I'm so sorry... I never meant..."
Harry smiled and held up his hand. "It's okay, Neville." he said. "Kinda reminds me of the time you stood up to us in the first year, when you caught Hermione, Ron and myself sneaking out of the common room late at night."
Neville looked down at his feet. "It seems that I always end up fighting for the wrong reasons."
"No you don't." Hermione said. "You fight the right fights, you just tend to fight them at the wrong times."
Harry nodded. "You have great strength, Neville." he said, mimicking Dumbledore's words from a couple of weeks before. "And that is a great asset. And if you do start supporting the wrong fights again, well, you have all of us here to help you out."
"Just don't go near Hermione." Sheridan said in a stage whisper. "She'll try and get you supporting this vomit-thing..."
Neville looked at him blankly.
"SPEW." Ron enlightened him quietly, and Neville's face immediately softened in recognition.
"So you did survive, then." A sneering voice from the edge of the crowd interrupted. Harry and the others turned to see Draco Malfoy standing there, his robes partially dishevelled as if he had pushed his way through the rapidly growing crowd.
He walked up to Harry with a carefully controlled expression on his face. "And an elemental as well! Seems to me that you didn't reveal everything in that corridor, Potter."
Harry hesitated before saying anything, not sure how to interpret the boy's words without having any sort of information from the boy's facial features, and not knowing how to start apologising for killing his father.
It turned out that he didn't have to say anything, as Draco held out his hand in a gesture of friendship. "I owe you, Potter." he said. "You've released me from my father's clutches, and I'm am grateful."
Harry frowned slightly, hesitantly taking the boy's hand and shaking it. "Draco, I'm so sorry. It was the sword... I just couldn't stop it..."
To his surprise, Malfoy's face broke into a grin, shocking most of the Hogwarts' students that were standing around. "I mean it, Potter." he said. "I owe you. As soon as I graduate from here, I inherit all of the Malfoy estates. I'm going to be one of the richest wizards in the world!"
"With the arrogant attitude to match." Ron muttered coldly.
Malfoy glanced at him. "Well, I doubt I'll be seeing you around, Weasley." he retorted. "I doubt you'll be seen in any of the social circles I'll be frequenting."
"As if I'd want to hang around with a bunch of wizard's with heads as big as yours." he said. "The room will be so full of hot air, it'll be worse than sitting in front of Norbert after Hagrid gave him that funny looking stew."
"Better than sitting behind him, though." Todd said with a smile.
Harry smiled as well, letting go of Malfoy's hand and rolling his eyes. Some things never changed, and he was sure that Hogwarts would never get over the rivalry between Gryffindor and Slytherin.
He bit back a yawn, straining his jaw as he fought to hide it from the others. He jumped slightly as he felt a hand on his shoulder, and turned to see Dumbledore standing there, a knowing smile on his face. "Let's get you up to the podium," he said, indicating the staging in front of the school that was floodlit in the increasing darkness. "The sooner the memorial is uncovered, the sooner the twin's can start their magnificent display and direct the attention away from yourself and your friends."
Harry nodded, and accepted the supporting slaps on the shoulders from his male friends, and the slight squeeze of the hand and the quick hugs from Hermione and Ginny as he followed Dumbledore through the crowd that magically parted before them.
He saw Fudge standing at the foot of the stairs leading onto the podium with Percy Weasley standing beside him, both trying to give the impression of authority and as the crowd's attention was drawn to the stage by the approaching figures of Harry and Dumbledore.
"Harry!" the Minister said with false warmth, stepping forward with arms outstretched to greet the boy who had vanquished Voldemort.
Harry stood stock still as the Minister patted his shoulder, feeling quite repulsed by the Minister's attentions.
"We are all so proud of you, Harry." the Minister said, stepping back a little doubtfully when Harry didn't move under his embrace. "We always knew you would have it in you to save the day, and supported you all the way!"
Harry quirked an eyebrow at the Minister's words. "Really?" he said slowly with a voice full of contempt. "I don't remember seeing you at the battle, Minister." he said, and snapped his eyes up to meet those meeting him over Fudge's shoulder. "Nor you, Percy. Strange, seeing the rest of your family were brave enough to show up and actively support our efforts against Voldemort."
Anger flashed through Fudge's eyes, and he stepped up closer to Harry. "Don't you dare try and undermine me, boy." he said. "I am the Minister! And you will not make any such implications in the future. Do you understand me? No one can imply that I did nothing less than what I thought was best for the community."
"But what you thought was best for the community, and what is best for the community, are two very different things, Minister. Especially when the money pooling in your pocket is what motivates your decisions."
Harry took a step closer to Fudge, finding himself glaring slightly downwards at the now nervous looking man. "You nearly made a grave mistake by not acknowledging Voldemort's comeback, Minister. And don't even think to assume that I am in anyway intimidated by you. I may not be anywhere near full strength yet, but I am the-Boy-Who-Lived, and I have killed the darkest Wizard of this age. Who do you think the people will support if I chose to reveal the truth behind who you really are?"
He glanced up and down the man's body and shook his head. "Clean up your act," he said, with a look of disgust causing one corner of his lip to rise. "And just be thankful that I haven't got the energy to denounce you just yet. If you can prove that you are worthy of being a leader of the Wizarding community, then I may just forget about the way you have spread rumours to the press about my sanity and my loyalty. Think about it." And with that, he pushed past the Minister and started up the steps with Dumbledore on his heels.
Near the top he found Remus standing next to Leo who was in full battle-robes, with his sword across his back. Beside them stood Mad-Eye Moody, his magical eye staring oddly out the side of his face at the crowds in front of the podium, and Shacklebolt, who had his wand drawn and held ready to be used in his hand.
"What are you four doing here?" Harry asked, confused.
"Security." Leo replied, stepping forward and brushing the tops of Harry's robes to straighten them out after his fall. "A few known Death Eaters escaped the grounds moments before you enveloped the immediate area with lightning."
Harry glanced to his right over the grounds, but was unable to see the blackened grass on the floor due to number of people milling around, and had not thought to look the night before when his attention had been taking by the memorial.
"We don't think you'll have anything to worry about." Shacklebolt assured him. "Most of the largest names were either killed or apprehended on the field. A few known individuals have not been accounted for yet. We can only hope that they were dealt with by the defences in the forest, but we're here just in case they want to get revenge on you."
Harry snorted slightly, "You did a fine job when Neville hit me with a variation of the Impedimenta down there." he said with a small smile to let them know he was joking.
"Well, most would exit the castle through its main door, Potter." Moody retorted.
Harry flashed him a quick grin. "But I thought you were one to promote "constant vigilance"." he said. "I figured I would scout out the area first, before announcing my presence to however many people are here tonight."
Moody frowned at him, but Harry was sure that the man was trying to hide a smile beneath all his scars.
"Are you going to be okay doing this, Harry?" Remus asked. "You are looking pretty pale."
Harry nodded, and looked at Dumbledore who had taken a back seat through all Harry's conversations. "As long as we make it quick." he said wearily. "I'm getting pretty tired."
Dumbledore nodded immediately. "Let us get started then." he said, indicating with one, largely robed arm to the top of the podium.
Harry walked up the steps, suddenly feeling very nervous as a hush fell like a wave over the crowd at his appearance, starting from the rows of witches and wizards standing just in front of the stage, and sweeping back to the shores of the lake.
Harry was relieved to see that his closest friends were the ones standing at the front, just in front of the memorial that towered behind them. But their encouraging smiles did nothing to dampen the butterflies that were swooping and flapping wildly in his stomach.
Then, breaking through the oppressive silence, a single clap was heard, repeating itself after a second.
Harry quickly searched the first rows for the lone applauder, and his eyes met with Professor Snape, who gave him a nod before clapping a third time.
His friends soon caught on, and started applauding more enthusiastically, with a few cheers and whoops as more people started to clap around them. Harry's eyes moved across the crowd, following the noise as if it were something foreign to him.
He looked back to where Leo stood with Dumbledore and the others, looking to him for some help understanding what was going on, but found him clapping as hard as the rest, Dumbledore applauding enthusiastically next to him.
He looked back at the crowd, this time making eye contact with some of the faces that he recognised. His breath caught in his chest, and tears started well in his eyes as he realised the crowd was cheering for him, and there was no indication of them relenting any time soon.
As his eyes roamed over the dark mass of people, the odd flame or Lumos charm lighting faces further back in the crowd, Harry recalled the faces of those he knew wouldn't be present to celebrate with the others that evening. A wave of tired-induced guilt coursed through him suddenly, and he made to turn and flee from the attention of the crowd, suddenly feeling very undeserving of their applause. But his escape was barred by Dumbledore, who calmly placed a hand on his shoulder and turned him back to face the crowd.
"You deserve this, Pyro." Leo said softly, coming up next to his other shoulder with Remus and watching the pale boy carefully as another tear fell down his panicked face. "For bringing them together. For showing them what it is to unite and work together."
Harry started shaking his head. "But so many people..." he broke off with a sob, and turned to look at the fellow Master in the eye. "Kat..."
Leo shook his head sadly, and Remus pulled Harry into a short, but heartfelt embrace. "Not everyone could be saved, Pyro, you know that. Their deaths couldn't be helped."
Remus looked over Harry's shoulder at Dumbledore, who nodded and held up both of his hands and the crowd slowly fell silent.
Harry turned back to the front of the stage, sniffing and trying to rub the tears out of his red eyes.
"My friends!" Dumbledore started, after casting a Sonorous charm on himself. "We are all here today to celebrate new freedoms..." another cheer went through the crowd, drowning out the rest of his words.
The headmaster smiled and patiently waited for the noise to die away again. "And we are also here to express our gratitude to Harry Potter, who was the one to take the final stand against Voldemort..."
Again, the crowd let out excited cheers, this one including a number of whistles stamping of feet on the compact earth. Harry shook his head slightly, and Remus could see the exhausted looking boy bite his bottom lip hard in order to contain his emotions.
The crowd took longer to pacify this time, but when they finally did, Dumbledore continued in a more sober tone.
"But, most importantly, we are here to pay our respects to those who are not able to celebrate with us today. There is not one person here who can say that they haven't been affected by Voldemort's actions, either through a direct relationship or simply by recognising a name. Because of this, we are here this evening to reveal a Memorial for all those loved ones that have been lost to us."
He indicated the tall podium with one arm, placing his other hand on Harry's shoulder. He smiled softly at the boy beside him and gave him a nod when the boy looked up at him. "If you would, Harry?" he asked.
Harry looked at the tall statue, still hidden underneath the large cover. He closed his eyes and took a deep breath, concentrating on the slight breeze as he held up one hand to the memorial.
The crowd let out gasps of amazement as any naked flame near them suddenly flared up in the breeze and was extinguished; leaving the crowd lit only by the occasional Lumos spell. Suddenly, a number of small torches that surrounded the statue ignited, and the wind picked up enough to pull the cover from the memorial, revealing the representatives of the four houses standing magnificently in the torchlight.
The crowd stared in awe of the memorial, and Fudge started running up the steps, shouting angrily that someone had vandalised his statue. His progress was immediately checked by Moody and Shacklebolt, and his shouts were drowned by the loud applause and excited chatter of the crowd as they discussed various features of the new memorial.
On the podium, Harry let his hand drop and opened his eyes, trying hard to fight the dizziness that made the world spin around him. But he failed and swooned slightly, immediately feeling Dumbledore and Remus grip his arms just above his elbows firmly to prevent him falling.
"You really should learn that there is no need for dramatics." Leo said with humour in his voice.
Harry smiled sleepily and shrugged, staring through half closed eyes at his work as the headmaster and his friend started leading him off the stage.