'I've had enough trouble for a lifetime'.
Thinking back on those words later that night as he lay back in his four-poster bed in his old dormitory Harry realised that he was one person who could say that with the most certainty. It was eerily quiet in the boy's dormitory everyone had decided to give Harry some privacy, and Harry had gladly returned the favour and allowed the Weasleys to grieve for their loss as they all gathered together in the Gryffindor common room.
As the magnitude of the deaths and sacrifice swept through Harry's mind he couldn't contain the deep-seated guilt that swept over him. His one true home tainted by pain and death, ones that he loved killed in the fight for freedom. A fight that only Harry could have put a stop to. A fight that he knew he didn't put a stop to soon enough.
Despite the exhaustion that was pressing down on him Harry found that sleep evaded him, even as he thought back to the last time he slept realising it has been days since he had a full night of sleep. Yet he stayed wide awake; thinking through the events of late.
After two more hours of laying in his bed and watching the sun rise over the mountains in the distance Harry gave up on his attempt to sleep. He walked to the foot of his bed and retrieved his backpack that held his cloak of invisibility and draping it over his shoulders proceeded to walk out of the dormitory and down the stairs before arriving at the common room.
The sight did nothing to ease his guilty conscience before him was the Weasley clan, a family that had welcomed him into their home and welcomed him as one of their own family when he had none of his own. He had brought nothing but pain onto this family, putting their youngest son in danger throughout his adolescent life. Even though he had no doubt that the Weasleys would have always fought, they were undoubtable put in more danger than ever. Leading to them losing one of their own: Fred Weasley.
His loss is one of immense tragedy to the world which already seemed void of laughter in his absence. George had part of his very existence torn away from him, and would never fully recover from this, ever. But then who could?
Then there was Ginny. Being so close to her now made Harry's heart ache, after watching her name on the Marauder's map on all those lonely nights. It was almost surreal to see her now, to know she was alive and safe. Her cheeks were stained with tears as she was tucked into George's side, she seemed content in her sleep and Harry only wished he could take away the pain he knew she would feel in her waking hours.
The older Weasley boys were asleep in the large sofa in front of the grand fire place, while Mr and Mrs Weasley dozed in armchairs pulled plush together their hands intertwined tightly, with desperation in silent support to one another. Ron and Hermione sat in an armchair near the window Ron pulling Hermione close to his side as though he would never let her go again. He was happy that they had finally found each other, even in the darkest of times and places.
Taking one last look around, Harry crept towards the exit of the common room careful not to wake the slumbering family. Pushing in the portrait door open he climbed out and began descending the staircases and navigating the corridors as though he had never left. Harry couldn't help but feel anguish as he took in all the damage that had occurred to the once majestic castle. His home had been destroyed, and again it had been his fault, Harry had brought the fight here. What had he been thinking he should had been more careful. Instead he had brought a war to a school full of children, untrained witches and wizards and many had perished because of this.
Eventually, after a few detours due to corridors being blocked by rubble Harry made it to the great hall the bodies that had previously occupied the Great Hall had been moved. Some people had remained in the Great Hall after the battle and a makeshift camp had been set up for those who there wasn't room for in the school's dormitories. Moving past the Great Hall Harry walked down the adjoining corridor and it didn't take him long to realise that this id were the bodies had been relocated, inside each classroom there were rows upon rows of dead. While they died for a noble cause and their sacrifice will never be forgotten, the deaths were needless. And it all came down to one power hungry maniac.
When he reached the end of the corridor there was one classroom left and you could tell a difference immediately the bodies in here hadn't been moved here out of respect or honour. They had been put here so that they were out of the way and unseen. The bodies in this room were cramped up together, even piled on top of one another. One face however coursed through Harry's mind. Snape he couldn't see him amongst the sea of death eaters, and Harry realised he must still be out there. Harry made a mental note to tell professor McGonagall when he saw her knowing he didn't have the emotional mental capacity to do that alone in the present moment.
Seeing all those that had dies proved too much for Harry and he began to feel like he couldn't breathe. Before he could register what was happening his feet had carried him past the Great Hall and out of the front exit of the castle. It took him mere moments after this and he knew he was retracing his steps from the night before. His dreaded walk into the forest.
As he got to the edge of the forest he knew he could go no further, he just stood looking into the trees. How was it that He had died again, he had willingly gone to his own death and survived. Yet all those innocent people fought valiantly, and their lives were lost. They were not given the same chances that he had. It truly wasn't fair.
Harry wasn't entirely sure how long he had stood there just looking into the forest but judging by the ache in his feet and back it had been a few hours since he had left the sanctity of the Gryffindor dormitories. He heard gentle footsteps behind him, but he was too wrapped up in his thoughts to even care to look behind him.
It was Ginny's voice that had broken the seemingly never-ending silence of the Hogwarts grounds. Her voice was full of concern and love, it came out at almost a whisper, and Harry would have missed it if he had not heard her in his dreams every night that they had been apart. Harry couldn't find it within himself to answer her call. What would he say? What could her even say to the girl he loves with all his heart. The girl whose heart he broke the previous year.
At that time Harry thought he had been protecting her from harm by distancing himself, but now he realised that noting could have spared her from the pain of this war. It had been unnecessary, and he had come so close to losing her. Harry could never have forgiven himself if either of them had died and he had wasted what little precious time they had together.
The footsteps go closer until he could almost feel her warm breath on his neck, and her warm creamy hand slipped into his own, squeezing it reassuringly. She stood next to him in silence for a few moments, both looking out into the dark forest, completely comfortable in each other's company.
'Harry, everyone's been looking for you, they're all worried. We woke up and you were just gone'. Ginny wasn't angry at Harry, but he could tell she was getting more concerned by the minute at his lack of response. She continued to speak hoping to coax something out of him eventually.
'We've been searching the castle for over an hour, we thought for sure that you'd left, or that you'd been hurt. Not all the death eaters were killed or captured Harry, it's not safe to be wandering around alone'.
To this Harry did respond she must know by now that he was not an amateur when it comes to these situations. He didn't however speak, he mealy looked down towards the invisibility cloak clutched in his had that wasn't already occupied with her own.
'Harry please if you don't want to speak to me then that's fine just come back to the castle, so everyone can know you're alright'.
Harry relented and gave into Ginny's hand that was tugging on his own leading him back to the castle. Before they could enter however he pulled the cloak back over his head, and it was at her questioning look that he did finally speak.
'Many people sacrificed their lives in this war, I don't want to take away from that right now by creating a scene or for an impromptu press conference to suddenly occur'.
At this response Ginny agreed, while it was necessary for those close to Harry to know of his whereabouts and wellbeing, it was not everyone's right to know every detail about his life and she also thought he did deserve the privacy that he was unlikely to get without the cloak.
Together they made their way through the castle, many more people were milling their way around than there had been this morning when Harry has journeyed to the forest. Harry and Ginny were both thankful for the cloak at this revelation, realising that they would have likely been bombarded by people on their way up to the Gryffindor common room.
They finally arrived at the entrance and Ginny said the password 'victory' and they were allowed entry. Harry couldn't help but smile at the password that had no doubt been selected by his former head of house Professor McGonagall, reminding everyone that entered that they had in fact won this terrible war. When they were inside the common room they found that it was empty, at this Harry removed the cloak.
'They must still be out looking for you, I should really let them know I found you'.
At this Ginny removed a galleon out of her pocked and Harry recognised it immediately as one of those used by Dumbledore's Army. At Harry's curious look Ginny began to further explain.
'They became common use among those of us who were still at Hogwarts this year, I suggested we use them to contact each other if one off us found you. Then we were to meet back here. Hermione charmed a few extra for mum, dad, and the others'.
On the walk back through the castle Harry's exhaustion was truly beginning to take form, however Ginny had been completely unaware of this due to him wearing his invisibility cloak. Now that he had removed it she could she the dark rims underneath his eyes, and he was slightly swaying on the spot. He then fell forwards, and Ginny shot to support him to stop him from falling to the floor.
'Harry, what's wrong' she asked her voice panic stricken.
'Sorry, I'm just really tired' Harry replied his voice weary.
'When was the last time you slept?' Ginny responded, trying to keep him conversing, so that he stayed awake while she had time to get him to his bed.
'A couple of days ago, when we were at Bill and Fleu's'.
Ginny was shocked by his response, she wanted to ask him there and then about all that had happened in the last year, but she knew that now wasn't the time. Besides they had now reached the boy's dormitory and she was busy aiding Harry down into his bed where he promptly fell asleep. Though she wasn't sure sleep was the right word for it, it was more like he had just passed out from exhaustion.
Ginny then began to hear people arriving downstairs and a commotion breaking out at their absence. Ginny proceeded to the top of the stairs and called down to them; not wanting to be apart from Harry by going all the way to the common room. This was followed by a bustling of steps as they hurried upstairs. As they burst through the door Ginny shushed them before Harry could be woken by the noise emitted from the Weasley clan. Ginny them walked to Harry's bedside and sat down on the edge of his bed clasping his hand in her own.
'Where did you find him? Is he alright? Is he hurt?' it was Mrs Weasley who had spoken, intent on finding out what had made Harry run away.
'I don't know, he hasn't really spoken much. I found him at the edge of the forest, just standing there looking at it. He looked so lost'. They all watched as Ginny moved some hair away from Harry's face, it was Mrs Weasley who started ushering them out of the room. As she went to place her hand on Ginny's arm to guide her out, Ginny pulled herself away.
'NO!, I wont leave him'. To this Mrs Weasley just nodded her head in understanding and left to join the rest of her family downstairs in the common room.