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Family Portrait

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Alive amidst the damp, blackened remains of their home, Harry couldn't quite make his jaw unclench. He was dimly aware of Ginny's voice as she moved from place to place, issuing instructions to the children and the people—which people? did he know them?—who had come to help. At least, Harry thought that was why there were so many other voices.

Helpful people, he thought, as his eyes caught the glint of light reflecting from a silver frame.

He blinked and went to it, brushing away the thickened, paste-like ash that covered most of it to find his children waving back at him.

"The kids. The ki—ids . . . ."

Warm hands gripped his shoulders. "The kids are safe. They're safe, Harry."

Ginny draped herself over him, which made Harry notice that he was kneeling. Absurdly, the discovery made him realise that his knees hurt.

"It's gone, Gin. Our f—family home."

She shook her head. "No. No, Harry. No part of our family is gone. We are each of us safe. We have the kids. We have each other. We have every last pet. The only thing we don't have," Ginny said, as she drew Harry up from the ground, "is the sodding paperwork that concerns our family—but the Ministry will send us copies soon enough."

Harry sniffed. "You've already sent for the birth certificates and such, haven't you?" He kissed her head. "Of course you have."

"Of course I have."

"But . . . ."

"Our house?" Ginny asked.

"Yeah, our hou—"

"We'll rebuild the sodding house!"

"Hey," said Harry, pulling Ginny against him at the sudden change in her tone. She was shaking. "Oh, hey there. I'm an arse. I'm so sorry, Gin."

"Our home, Harry. Oh, Harry."

Back and forth, back and forth . . . . Harry gave inner voice to his actions as he held Ginny in a sway through her tears, knowing that she was feeling everything she had not allowed herself to feel in the scramble to get the kids and their menagerie safely out of the house. "I'm so sorry. I shouldn't have frozen just now."

"S'okay. S'all right. You didn't freeze when it counted." Ginny pulled back to look at him. "You never do."

Harry kissed her cheek and murmured, "I love you" against her salty skin.

"Isn't it bad enough that I've lost every Chocolate Frog card I own?" demanded Lily Luna.

"Lils, don't!" Albus Severus objected.

James shook his head from a collection of cages. "A little help, here?"

"Go on, then. We'll worry about the cards later," Ginny told her daughter.

"How can they possibly be so calm?" Harry asked.

They stood watching Molly and the others prepare the children to leave for the Burrow for a long moment before Ginny answered.

"All they've ever known is love, Scar Face—and I don't think it's really hit them, yet."

Smiling slightly at Ginny's pet name for him, Harry replied, "It hit me. . . . But you're right."

"Yes," Ginny said.

Harry laughed for real. "You are right: everyone's safe. Our family's safe. And that's all that matters."

"That's home," Ginny asserted. "Now, come on. I don't know about you, but I'm exhausted. I want a bath and something to eat and lots and lots of sleep!"

"I'll be right there," Harry said, again surveying the wreckage.

Ron, who was fishing familial treasures from the embers, waved to him. Harry waved back.

"Go on with Mum, Harry," Ron called to him. "We'll save what we can."

You always do, thought Harry, swallowing in relief to feel his jaw unclench. "Thanks, Ron! Thank you, everyone!"

There came a chorus of "you're welcomes" from his family—yes, the people around him were his family—and Harry grinned to recognise them as such as he picked up the portrait.

"Hey, kids!" he exclaimed. "Look what I found!"