Harry took a deep breath before stepping into the Great Hall. He didn’t know if he was ready for this, but he wanted to come back to Hogwarts for his last year. He wanted to know what it was like to be in the school with no Voldemort to threaten him.
He’d hoped that Voldemort would leave him alone a little over a year ago, when he’d made the decision not to come back for his sixth year, to focus on healing and recovering from the mental and physical wounds his life had dealt to him.
Unfortunately, Voldemort hadn’t been inclined to let him live his life, and he’d come for Harry numerous times during his year away from the school. It had interfered with his education, with the professors who came to visit him during their free time to make sure that he was keeping up with his classmates, and it interfered with his recovery, interrupting visits with both Healer Carmichael and Mind Healer Abbott.
During one such battle, Harry had finally killed the Dark Lord, and with information forced out of an emaciated, nearly-dead Dumbledore, his other Horcruxes had all been destroyed before he could rise again.
Harry had won, and the rest of his year had been spent in peace, finally getting the chance the recover the way he’d wanted to.
It had been a difficult process, one that still wasn’t quite over. Both Healers would visit him at Hogwarts at least twice per month, but with Mind Healer Abbott, it would likely be once a week until Harry had settled in once more. But for all of that, Harry was ready to come back to Hogwarts, which had been his first true home.
So, with a deep breath, he stepped into the Great Hall for the first time in over a year.
A hush fell over the student body, and Harry closed his eyes and tried to swallow the grimace that he knew was on his face. He opened his eyes slowly when the sound started, and found his fellow students applauding him thunderously, on their feet for him. Harry flushed and fought the urge to turn and disappear back into the castle.
Ron appeared at his side and escorted him to the Gryffindor table, grinning as he did so. “Let them have this,” he said to Harry, his voice low and warm. “It’s fine. Let them get it out of their system, and everything will go back to as normal as it can around here.”
Harry took a deep breath, forced himself to relax, and tried out a smile. He could let them have their moment if they wanted it. He’d already had his, after all. And Ron was right, once they had it out of their systems, things would be so much quieter.
So he smiled and nodded to the people still applauding, and once he took his own seat, they began to quiet down, just like Ron had predicted.
Headmistress McGonagall tapped her fork against her goblet for a few seconds, calling for their attention and silencing the last few students who’d still been applauding wildly. “There’s not much I can say to top Mr. Potter’s reappearance within our walls,” she said cheerfully. “So, Mr. Potter, welcome home, and with that, let’s begin the feast!”
Their food appeared on the tables, and Harry relaxed more as the students were distracted by it, and by each other, and by the end of the feast, Harry felt as close to normal as he ever did once more.
Hogwarts would always be his first home, and to come back to it like this, knowing that the year was going to finally be one where he wasn’t in danger and didn’t have to worry about being manipulated into anything, knowing that he could call on the twins if he needed any help and they would come running, was a powerful thing.
He was home, and he was happy. There was nothing more he needed, and if he did need it, he knew that the twins would take care of it for him.