A/N: Okay, so this is a story set a few years after the demise of Voldemort, but is essentially AU in that I never read the seventh book and didn't like the way the sixth went, so you can basically disregard anything from cannon as far as deaths, etc. The general premise is that Voldemort is dead, Harry and the group of students he defeated him with are famous, and soon are coming face to face with an organization far more dangerous than the dark lord ever could have hoped to be. Think of this as an AU story that is set after the seventh book in basically the same world; just forget about who died in the novels and who ended up with whom, the characters are still essentially the same. Stick with me and hopefully you can enjoy the ride as far as it takes us.
The cheers of forty-thousand strong fans was deafening, and exhilarating, especially for the man who currently sat anonymously among them, something he was incapable of doing in many parts of the world where he was most revered. Today, the twenty-five year old man was able to sit back in a mildly comfortable chair flanked on either side by a collection of similarly aged men and women whom likewise would be unable to find reprieve of privacy within their own, secluded society.
This release from the public eye, the ability to live amongst the common people was something they cherished, for as important as they were to their own society, an entirely different populace existed outside their own whom were completely oblivious of their existence.
"When you walk, through a storm,"
The man couldn't help but smile; the lyrics of this particular song were powerful, and meant a lot to him and the friends surrounding him, even if they were written by a muggle, and even worse sung by the fans of the team about to play against the team he called his own.
"Hold your head up high,"
Scanning his emerald-shaded eyes to both his left and his right, Harry Potter glanced upon those friends of his who'd stood by him on so many occasions, through the thick and the thin, he knew without any shadow of a doubt he would not be enjoying himself in this stadium today had he not had these people by his side through the roughest years of his life.
"And don't be afraid of the dark."
Those words struck home as strong as any for Harry, as well as his friends. Fear of the dark would have gotten them killed; but persevering through the light is what got them to today, and would help them continue to survive and see countless tomorrows. In the corner of his eye he caught his curly-haired best friend Hermione Granger silently mouthing the words to herself, and couldn't help but smile.
"At the end of the storm, there's a golden sky."
If that wasn't the truth. He still remembered that morning; he always would. The sunset the lit the new day after Voldemort's fall in the black of night was the most glorious sight his eyes had ever fallen upon. It had signaled the dawn of a new life for all of them
"And the sweet silver song, of a lark."
Well, not every verse could be perfect for his past experiences, but all the same, every line that crept closer to the culminating chorus brought a moistness to his eyes that no other song could ever hope to do.
"Walk on through the wind,"
Harry noticed smiles finding their way to the faces of all the friends around him, from the red-headed Ron Weasley on his immediate left to the his sister Ginny all the way on the end of the row on his right.
"Walk on through the rain,"
All of them were grinning at each other now; the group of friends that shared a bond that may never be broken, who'd faced tasks unlike any that any group of people their age had faced before them, or thanks to them, would face again.
"All your dreams be tossed and blown,"
By now all the Great Gryffindor Eight were smiling ear to ear, sans the one who was not in the stands with them, although still in the facility. Even knowing he'd face the wrath of the eighth member should he ever see it, Harry opened his lungs and bellowed the last line of the song along with all of his friends and the forty-thousand red-clad scousers encircling Anfield Stadium in Liverpool, England.
"Walk on, walk on, with hope in your heart, and you'll never walk alone!"
Truer words would never be spoken for Harry Potter, Ron Weasley, Hermione Granger, Ginny Weasley, Neville Longbottom, Seamus Finnigan, Luna Lovegood, and the one member who was not in the stands with them but rather on the field below them, Dean Thomas. Never had a group of Hogwarts students ever formed such a powerful bond; a bond so strong that together they conquered the Dark Lord Voldemort, and as Aurors had kept the wizarding world peaceful in the years since his fall, with nearly all his death eaters having been caught or killed.
The crowd exploded in applause as they finished their melody and the teams lined up to take the field in the opening game of the 2009/10 Premiership season, Liverpool FC versus West Ham United.
While Harry, Ron, Neville, Ginny, and Seamus had all become Aurors, Hermione and Luna had taken the scientific route and worked in the Wizarding Scientific Development Headquarters where they were renowned for their discoveries and remedies to a slew of previously believed incurable and indefensible maladies.
Dean, on the other hand, had gone back to his muggle roots, and was now staring across the pitch at Fernando Torres, Steven Gerrard, Jaime Carragher and the rest of Liverpool's enormously talented squad.
Harry had not followed football prior to the fall of Voldemort; chiefly for the reason that he obviously had more important things on his mind and secondarily because his now-deceased aunt, uncle, and cousin had kept him from enjoying any kind of liberties while under their roof. Despite their injustice towards him, Harry would forever feel guilt and responsibility in their demise. He believed in telling Voldemort, as his wand was pressed against the quivering throat of his Aunt Petunia, that the woman meant nothing to him, would sway him to spare her life. But as it was, those were the last words she would ever here, the same as his cousin Dudley and Uncle Vernon as well. Voldemort executed them all right in front of a helpless Harry, the last words they ever heard were those of the boy they'd always despised proclaiming them meaningless and in their final moment giving them reason for all the hate they bestowed upon him for so many years. That was one thing for which he would never forgive himself.
It had taken Harry a long time to learn to cope with that guilt, and the men and women sitting by his side and the one running around on the field below him were the people who'd managed to get him through it all. Like so many other things, he never would have been able to do it without them.
The game, sadly, was brutal. Torres proved himself in top form, netting a brace before the break, with the talismanic Gerrard smashing home one of his trademark long-distance stunners in the dying minutes, and Dean's West Ham fell by three to nil. Dean himself in all honesty had a sub par game, his first touch failing him on an opportunity in the penalty area as well as an ill-advised attempt on goal when he had a streaking teammate calling for the ball at the far post being the particular low-points of his day.
"Tough one out there today man," was all Harry could think to say to him at Hogsmeade that night, as the Great Gryffindor Eight, a name christened upon them by Rita Skeeter and not themselves, enjoyed a beer or two as they always did after one of Dean's games. The nickname in and of itself was not entirely accurate; Luna Lovegood was a Ravenclaw, and there had been fourteen students who made the trip to the London Underground that night. Terry Boot, Susan Bones, Cho Chang, Ernie MacMillan, Padma and Parvati Patil did not return from the encounter.
Time healed all wounds, and as such each passing year the GGE's annual toast of their fallen friends got slightly easier, but they would never be forgotten, nor would the multiple aurors who'd lost their lives in the battle, it was written down on the calender as the greatest day in wizarding history, and those who'd lost their lives on it were now legends of the past.
"Bloody tell me about it mate," Dean replied, guzzling a butterbeer entirely to quickly considering how many he'd already consumed. "Capello was in the stands today, and that wanker Agbonlahor hit for two against Hull today. I've got a year to make my case for the Cup next summer and days like today aren't cutting it, especially in front of the bleeding gaffer himself!"
Dean was always very critical of himself since he'd essentially left the wizarding world to live as a muggle footballer, but even the purest of pureblood wizarding families respected his decision. He was the man who claimed the life of Bellatrix Lestrange, after all.
"Oh don't fret on it mate," Seamus assured him. "Hull City is shite; and them scousers are title challengers and could go deep in the Champion's League as well. Capello knows that."
"I'm sure he does," Dean grumbled back, wiping foam from his latest beer from his mouth. "Screw this mates, I need some real, muggle-style, hard-up whiskey, tequila, anything. This ain't even giving me a buzz. I'll talk to you guys later."
With a soft pop he was gone, presumably back to his mansion in Northern London where he had an endless supply of hard liquor for days like these.
Ginny groaned. "Ugh, I'll stay out with you guys a bit longer. I don't want rough, depressed, drunken sex tonight. Hopefully he'll pass out before I get back."
Seamus spit his butterbeer all over the counter in front of him while Ron's face turned all sorts of red. Hermione gave Ginny an exasperated look while the rest of the boys chuckled at her honesty. Ginny and Dean had become an item late in her fifth year, and had been on again off again ever since. They'd been steady for a while now however, and most of the gang was hoping they'd finally stick it out and make it last.
"Well speaking of matters on the home front, Sarah is probably up waiting for me," Neville proclaimed, referring to his wife, a Hufflepuff alum three years their junior who'd never taken part in any of the groups more adventurous journeys. Neville and her had been paired on a mission to track down a death eater hiding in central Africa a few years back and they'd been together ever since.
He was gone with a few polite goodbye's, and soon thereafter Luna and Hermione bade their farewells as they needed to catch a late meeting at the Ministry, leaving just Harry, Ron, and Seamus together at the bar.
"So what do ya say boys, muggle bar tonight? The chase is always more fun when the women don't have posters of you hanging over their beds."
Harry and Ron shared a laugh at the playboy of the group's comment; Seamus was a dedicated bachelor who claimed that he'd never settle down, always boasting about the number of women he'd pulled even before his fame, not to mention after the epic battle in which he'd famously fended off three death eaters at once to allow Harry, Ron, and Hermione the time they needed to face Voldemort on their own. Despite his boyish smile, playboy attitude, and occasional bending of laws Seamus was a powerful wizard not to be trifled with.
"You go for that mate, think me n' Harry'll just hang the two of us tonight."
"Queers. Don't forget your lube."
With a laugh he was gone, and the two remaining heroes shook their heads at his antics, but they loved the guy regardless.
"Just the two of us in Hogsmeade, good times huh?"
Smiling, the boys quietly sipped down the last of their beers before bidding the bartender goodbye with a healthy tip, apparating off to their respective flats ready to rest and get ready for work in the morning, as aurors there was always something that needed to be done.
Neither of them knew that the Great Gryffindor Eight would never be all alive and well together again.