Flashes of colored light erupted around Harry and his friends like fireworks, but there was nothing to celebrate. The sounds of screaming, war, and bloodshed were all he could hear.

The red-haired boy's face, even in battle, broke into a brief, gleeful smile. Of course; it was so like him to be optimistic even when the odds were against him. Because he knew that, whatever happened, he would always have his family. If they were alive or dead, he would continue to fight and live so their memories would be passed on.

He laughed as his opponent collapsed from three simultaneous Stunning spells.

"You actually are joking, Perce," He said to his brother. "I don't think I've heard you joke since you were -"

Then the world ripped into pieces in an instant, a blinding light enveloping the battling wizards. Quiet followed the wreckage as if the very air was mourning for what had just happened.

For the boy lay on the ground. Utterly still.

"No…no, no!" Someone wailed, "No! Fred! No!"

"No," Harry muttered. If there was still time…he could grab his wand, reverse the destruction. There had to be a spell to cheat death. There had to be because Fred was gone and Tonks and Moody and-"

A hand pulled him from the darkness of his nightmares. "Harry," Hermione whispered, "Are you alright?"

Harry blinked, Hermione's worried face swimming blurrily in front of him. Harry reached for his glasses and put them on, so her features came into focus.

"Nightmares again?" Hermione guessed before Harry could say anything. "Is your scar hurting, too? I thought it would stop since Voldemort is gone."

"It doesn't have anything to do with Voldemort," Harry said, sitting up. The warm colors of Ron's room lit up by the morning sun, put him at ease. "My scar hasn't been hurting. I just keep…reliving the battle in my sleep."

"Oh, Harry," Hermione frowned sympathetically. "C'mon, let's get some breakfast in you. We're all going to need our energy today."


Hermione left the room, leaving Harry to get dressed. He opened his hurriedly packed trunk and pulled out a plain black robe. As Harry stared at the fabric, he felt tears beginning to well up in his eyes. Furiously blinking them away, he muttered, "This is the last."

After today, maybe everyone could finally forget the tragedy of the past and look hopefully towards the future. The past week had been filled with funerals, ranging from Colin Creevey to Professor Severus Snape. The latter had been particularly ill-attended, to Harry's disappointment. He had told everyone he could about Snape's sacrifice, but only a chosen few believed him, Ron and Hermione included.

The mood downstairs was somber but united. Hermione, Ron, Ginny, Arthur, Molly, and Percy sat at the table, eating breakfast. It was clear from the family's gloomy faces they weren't really in the mood for a meal, but hunger ensured they had an egg, at least. Harry was slightly uplifted to see everyone livelier than a week ago: Percy and his parents were murmuring to each other, Ginny was helping herself to sausage, and Hermione's and Ron's hands lay entwined on the table. Only George didn't eat, sitting in stony silence.

"Orange juice, Harry dear?" Mrs. Weasley offered, the jug floating towards Harry's cup.

"Thanks, Mrs. Weasley," Harry replied, his chair scraping back as he sat down next to Ron. He looked towards George, wanting to say some words of comfort but having no idea what to say.

"How're you holding up, mate?" Harry said quietly to his best friend. Ron wasn't openly crying, but Harry could tell he had been earlier.

"As well as anyone else in this situation, I suppose," Ron said, his voice wobbling a bit. "Hermione's been a great help." The smiles they gave each other reminded Harry of how Fleur and Bill look at each other, and he couldn't help but grin.

"Oh, by the way, Harry," Hermione, blushing, changed the subject, "You got a letter."

"By owl?" Harry asked, and with a pang, he thought of Hedwig.

"Yes, it was delivered by an eagle owl, I believe." Hermione raised her eyebrows at Harry.

"Er…An eagle owl. Neat."

"Why is an eagle owl special?" Ron said.

Hermione glanced at the rest of the Weasley family and lowered her voice. "It's from Malfoy."

Harry's blood ran cold at the sound of his name, but a split second later he wondered if Draco was really an enemy any more.

"Malfoy?" Ron hissed, "As in Draco Malfoy? What would that scum want with Harry?"

"I don't know, I didn't open the letter! It's not mine, after all." Hermione chewed on her bottom lip. "I was thinking…suppose it's cursed?"

"Why would he curse the letter?" Harry asked.

Hermione looked as confused as she would have if he had asked the question in Parseltongue. "What- Harry, he's the enemy!"


"Well, probably." Hermione's expression changed to doubt, but it passed quickly. "Just because Voldemort is dead doesn't mean his supporters are!"

"Can't you two argue about this later?" Ron interjected wearily. "My brother is dead."

"I…" Guilt flitted like a shadow across Hermione's face. "Yes. Sorry, Ron."

"That's alright," Ron said and rubbed her comfortingly on the back. "Although, it is pretty weird that he contacted you, mate. Don't you think?"

Harry shrugged. "Yeah, I suppose."

In fact, he hadn't been thinking much of Malfoy throughout the week. At all the funerals, Harry hadn't seen his pale face among the sea of black robes, and he had almost forgotten he existed. He's the enemy. Harry could never forget that night on the tower when Draco pointed his wand threateningly at Dumbledore. He's the enemy. But the look of anguish on Draco's face that night was that of a child. Not a dark wizard.

"Shall we get a move on, then?" Arthur stood from his chair, and his family followed suit. George pushed in his chair slowly, a blank yet devastated look on his face.

Outside the sky shone silver with thin yet widespread clouds. The pale sunlight and the windswept hillside created a beautiful yet grave atmosphere. Seven black figures moved along the ridge of the hill, heading for a small pond where many chairs were set up. A few people had already arrived, including Hagrid, Headmistress McGonagall, Charlie, and Fleur.

"Harry, Hermione," Charlie greeted the pair when he finished hugging his family. "How are you holding up?"

"We're fine, thanks," Hermione sighed, "Though I'm more worried about Ron. And um, Ginny, Percy, and George too. Of course."

Charlie smirked, picking up on Hermione's favoritism. "Word on the Weasley street is that you're Ronnie's girlfriend," He said.

"Oh…Well, that's…" Hermione trailed off into red-faced silence.

"It's a good thing. Ron needs someone to keep him grounded."

"Charlie," Harry interjected, "Where's Bill?"

"Zer iz a full moon tonight, 'arry," Fleur overheard and glided up to them with sorrowful grace. "Bill wishes' e could make it, of course. But 'e is in too much pain right now."

"Right," Harry said sheepishly. Through all the funerals, he had forgotten entirely about Bill's condition.

The chairs began to fill with more and more redheads, as well as familiar faces from Hogwarts: Oliver Wood, Lee Jordan, Angelina Johnson, Alicia Spinnet, and other Quidditch players were huddled while whispering to each other. Angelina held a swathe of red fabric that Harry could only guess were Quidditch robes, tears rolling off her cheeks in waves.

"Harry, my family's all sitting together," Ron informed his friend, "And there's only one open seat left-"

"You and Hermione go ahead," Harry said quickly. "I'll sit back here, don't worry about me."

"Thanks, mate." Ron shot him a grateful look as he and Hermione walked away, still hand-in-hand. Harry felt a twinge of loneliness as he gazed ahead and spotted Ginny, sitting between George and Percy. He wished he could give her his shoulder to cry on. But Ginny had been acting distant for the past week. Harry felt it would be best to give her some space.

Harry took a seat next to Hagrid, who was busy blowing into a handkerchief the size of a tablecloth.

"Oh…hello, Harry," Hagrid's voice shook behind his bushy beard. "Sad week, eh?"

"Yeah," Harry agreed as Hagrid blew into his handkerchief with a noise like a foghorn.

Feeling a little awkward, Harry looked to his left at the few rows of empty chairs. He wanted to imagine that Fred was sitting in one of them, that his spirit had not yet left.

The same, tiny, tufty-haired wizard that had presided over Dumbledore's funeral rose and took his place at the podium. Next to him, there was a plain wood casket covered in bunches of forget-me-nots. Harry stared at the coffin, wishing with all his heart that it was the last dead body he would be near in his life.

"Fred Weasley," The small wizard began, and everyone fell silent, "Was one of the brave fighters during the Battle of Hogwarts. His sacrifices…" Harry looked to his left again as the wizard continued. He had heard this speech before, with too many names in front of it.

The grass beneath the empty chair next to Harry moved.

Harry stared. The blades were definitely being pressed down as if feet were sinking into it. Harry looked up at where a person would be sitting, and he noticed that the air shimmered a little. Harry moved his hand slowly to his pocket, where his wand was ready.

He felt a warm breath against his ear. "Don't scream, Potter."

Despite the person's instructions, Harry felt his lungs expand with fear. He removed his wand from his pocket and gripped it tightly. The voice was as familiar as his own.

"Why are you here?" Harry whispered as quietly as he could.

"Paying my respects, obviously." Harry could picture Draco Malfoy's snide face even though he was invisible. But Harry heard a hint of something else, too. Regret.

"Fred Weasley doesn't need your respects," Harry replied hotly.

"No, I suppose he doesn't." Malfoy went silent for a moment. "There weren't half as many people at Crabbe's funeral as there is here."

Harry's blood went cold for a moment. Though he had little to no respect for Vincent Crabbe, the Slytherin was still a casualty. Brainwashed by Voldemort's followers – his own parents – into believing the wrong thing.

"Anyway," Malfoy continued coolly, "You should've known I would be here."

"How would I know?"

"Honestly, Potter," Malfoy sighed, "Don't you know how to read?"

Harry remembered the letter Hermione mentioned, and he felt himself flushing from embarrassment. "Oh. Um, yes. I got your letter. I didn't get to read it."

"Well, still read it when you get back."

"Can't you just tell me what's in it?"

"No. You know that I always say the wrong thing around you, Potter."

"The wrong thing?" Harry regarded the empty space with a raised eyebrow. "So, you didn't really mean to be a prat all those years?"

Malfoy huffed. "Never mind. I simply mean that I can convey my thoughts better with written words."

Behind the podium, the small wizard had left for George to say a eulogy for his twin. Harry straightened in his chair, determined to listen, but he was distracted by a chuckle from his left.

"What's so funny, Malfoy?" Harry was beginning to get irritated, and he had to work to keep his voice low.

"Oh, nothing. You just seem surprisingly comfortable. Especially considering that I'm technically a Death Eater and you're the man who killed the Dark Lord. I could have my wand pointed at you right now."

Fear tingled down Harry's spine until he realized who he was talking to. "You're not going to kill me, Malfoy," Harry scoffed.

The shimmering air moved uncomfortably. Malfoy's outline was beginning to be more and more apparent. "Oh? And how do you know that?"

Harry knew it just by instinct, but a few moments of memory-searching presented him with a solid reason. "Well, you didn't rat me out. In Malfoy Manor. You knew it was me."

Malfoy's figure was close to being translucent. Harry could almost see his features. "Did not. That Granger girl can produce one hell of a Stinging Jinx."

"How do you know Ron didn't do it?"

"Oh, please. Granger's spells are better than Weasley's by a long shot."

Harry felt himself grinning, and he desperately tried to squash it. "Was that a compliment?"

"No. Granger's wandwork is still shoddy. She's just better than Weasley."

"Speaking of shoddy wandwork, you're nearly visible."

"Bloody hell!" Malfoy hissed, immediately raising his wand to the top of his head.

As Malfoy muttered under his breath to cast another Disillusionment Charm, Harry took the opportunity to finally pay attention to Fred's service.

"He was my second half," George was saying, holding back tears. "His optimism helped us run a joke shop business, even as the world was collapsing. Fred could always see the bright side, and I'm going to continue that legacy. Starting today."

Harry glanced to his left, and sure enough, Malfoy had disappeared again.

"Fred Weasley, you will be missed. By a whole lot of people. But you're not gone. Not while your memory lives on." George stepped out from behind the podium and sat down, wiping at his eyes.

Harry felt his eyes getting misty as well, and he took off his glasses to dry them.

"Now, if you would all please join us for the burial ceremony," The small wizard announced. Charlie, Arthur, Percy, and George waved their wands at the casket, which floated. Dozens of mourners rose to follow the procession to the graveyard.

"That's my cue to leave," Malfoy whispered, and Harry saw the grass sink again. "Read my letter, Potter." Harry heard the swish of a cloak.


The air was still. Feeling discombobulated and guilty that he hadn't adequately listened to George's eulogy, Harry trailed after the others in their sea of black. He joined Ron and Hermione and watched with them as Fred's coffin landed with a soft bump in the deep grave. When the tufty-haired wizard sealed the hole with loose dirt, Harry was reminded of Dobby's grave by the shore. The sea lavender Luna had placed by it was surely dead by now, and Harry hoped Bill and Fleur remembered to put new ones in the jar.

The sky began to clear, clouds dissipating in a warm breeze. Ginny looked up towards the heavens as the rest of the funeral procession stared at the ground in a moment of silence. Harry watched as her coppery-red hair blew in front of her face, and he thought he saw her lips moving in prayer.


"It's ready now."

Hermione lifted her wand from the envelope, sealed with the dark green of the Malfoys. She had spent the past few minutes murmuring over it, hoping to dispel any curses. Harry thought the precautions rather silly and pointless, but he was so curious to read the letter he figured it was faster to let Hermione have her way.

"Thanks, 'Mione." Harry reached for the letter and carefully opened it, pulling out the sheets of parchment inside.

"Read it aloud, won't you?" Ron requested. The three of them were seated in the Weasley's small living room, and Ron could've comfortably leaned over to read, but he seemed to be amused by how bothered Hermione was by Draco's letter.

"It's his mail, Ron," Hermione said.

"You want to know what it says, too, don't you?"

Hermione squirmed. "Well, …yes."

"Alright, it's settled. Go on, mate."

Harry, who had been scanning the first lines, cleared his throat and read aloud:


It may interest you to know that I will be at Fred Weasley's funeral.

"I didn't see him," Ron interrupted. "I would've seen that blond ferret from a mile away."

"Ron, let him read," Hermione chided, then asked, "Did you see him, Harry?"

"Not exactly," Harry replied, and quickly read on before she could respond.

Of course, I seriously doubt I will be wanted there. I will be sitting in the back, invisible. Whether you care to join me or not is at no concern of mine.

"Sitting in the back?" Hermione said. "But Harry, you were sitting in the back!" When Harry did not reply, she continued, "Did you talk to him?" Harry stayed silent. "Oh, Harry! Why didn't you say anything? What if he hurt someone?"

"Why would he hurt anyone?" Harry said, somewhat defensively. Two weeks ago, he would've Stunned Draco without thinking, but now he was beginning to resent how everyone blamed the young Death Eater for everything. "Let me read the blasted letter, will you, please?"

Hermione sealed her lips, furrowed her brow, and nodded.

Anyway, there is something else I wanted to talk to you about. As you may not know yet, Hogwarts is hosting another year of classes for people who were displaced by the war last year. I assume you, Granger, and Weasley will be attending. At the insistence of my parents, I will also.

In our eighth year at Hogwarts, I want to change the relationship between us. Seven years of animosity will not fade so effortlessly, but I wish for you to be civil to me.

"He's the one who should be civil!" Exclaimed Ron, who was shushed by Hermione.

I still bear the Dark Mark. I was once the enemy. But Voldemort is dead; his followers are now on the run or in hiding. Keep what I am about to say next to yourself, or at least within your so-called 'Golden Trio': I regret joining him. I regret so much, Potter. More than you know.

See you at the funeral.

- Draco Malfoy

Harry folded the letter and slid it back into the envelope. The three of them stared at it.

"That didn't sound like Malfoy at all," Hermione suddenly said, and at the same time, Ron wondered, "People call us the Golden Trio?"

"A few have started to, yeah," Harry addressed Ron first, then turned to Hermione. "I agree. It sounded very strange.

"I wonder if he actually wrote it." Hermione tapped her chin thoughtfully. "Maybe his mother did?" Harry had informed his two friends of Narcissa's betrayal to the Dark Lord in the Forbidden Forest, and they were now aware of her softer side.

"It's possible." Harry adjusted his glasses, then remembered something Draco had said to him at the funeral. "Malfoy told me that he's better with written words. He said, basically, that he speaks without thinking, but writing letters conveys his thoughts better."

"Draco does have a big mouth, so that makes sense," Ron agreed. "But the content is weird. He regrets? How can you feel regret if you don't have a heart?"

"I'll write back," Harry resolved, ignoring Ron's comment. "Hopefully things will make more sense then."

The three's discussion was cut short by the sound of soft footsteps at the doorway. Ginny stood there with a shawl wrapped about her shoulders. The twilight sun through the window turned her hair a fiery color, and Harry was suddenly struck by how beautiful she looked.

"It's time for dinner if any of you lot are interested," She said. Her voice was uncharacteristically flat.

"I'm interested," Ron piped up.

"What's that letter for?" Ginny's brown eyes zeroed in on the envelope in Harry's hand.

Swiftly moving his thumb to cover the Malfoy seal, Harry replied, "From a classmate."

Before Ginny could ask any more questions, Mrs. Weasley popped her head in. Unlike her daughter, Molly seemed upbeat – as upbeat as a mother could be after her son's funeral. Harry could tell she was relieved that the war was over, at least, and the rest of her children were going to be safe and sound for a long time.

"I've got some news for you, young ones," Mrs. Weasley waved a letter at them, and Harry spotted the Hogwarts symbol. "There is going to be another year of education for those displaced by the war."

Harry exchanged a look with his two friends. Apparently, Malfoy was well-informed.

"Do we need to get books and things?" Hermione asked. Her eyes practically sparkled at the mention of school.

Mrs. Weasley shook her head. "This year is going to be…unconventional for you. The classes will include more practical use of magic, less homework, and more free time. That goes for all of the school, to recuperate." She patted Ginny on the shoulder. "Now, wash up, you all. It appears I still have the energy to cook." Molly left the room.

"Sounds decent," Ron beamed around at his peers. "Unconventional classes can pretty great sometimes."

"Not all the time," Ginny said sharply. She turned on her heel and left the room.

Ron, realizing that her classmates had been subject to torture the year before, turned ashen. "Ginny, wait, I didn't mean it like that." But she was already out of earshot.

"She knows what you mean," Hermione reassured him, but even she looked unconvinced. "Harry, why don't you…" She tilted her head towards the direction of the stairs.

"Oh." Harry nodded quickly, remembering that he was technically Ginny's boyfriend. "Oh, right." He slipped Malfoy's letter into his jean pocket and left as well, taking the stairs two at a time.

The door to Ginny's room was partially covered with a Holyhead Harpies poster, and Harry paused to watch a Chaser score a goal before knocking. When he was met with silence, Harry pressed his ear to the door and rapped again.


"I'd like to be left alone. If you don't mind." Ginny's voice had a muffled quality as if she was speaking from her pillow.

"I wish you'd talk to me a bit," Harry sighed. He waited for a few more moments. The door suddenly opened, and Harry jumped back from it.

Ginny's face was tearstained, and she had put on a red turtleneck. Stepping forward, she wrapped her arms around Harry's neck, standing on her tiptoes to be level with him. Harry returned the hug, understanding then how much he had missed her warmth.

"I do want to talk," Ginny murmured in his ear. She pulled back, her hands on Harry's shoulders. "About more than you know." Harry shivered slightly at the unexpected similarity her wording had to Draco's letter. "But not now." She leaned forward and kissed his forehead, then retreated back into her room.

Harry stood in front of Ginny's door for a moment longer. Part of him wanted to enter, to tangle his fingers in her hair, to hold her until her tears faded. Instead, he started back down the stairs for dinner, the green-sealed letter heavy in his pocket.