He was looking toward the dark mass that stood at the very end of this row of houses. Next moment he had sped up, dragging Hermione along with him; she slipped a little on the ice.
“Look … Look at it Hermione … ”
“I don’t … oh!”
He could see it; the Fidelius Charm must have died with James and Lily. The hedge had grown wild in the sixteen years since Hagrid had taken Harry from the rubble that lay scattered amongst the waist-high grass. Most of the cottage was still standing, though entirely covered in dark ivy and snow, but the right side of the top floor had been blown apart; that, Harry was sure, was where the curse had backfired. He and Hermione stood at the gate, gazing at the wreck of what must once have been a cottage just like those that flanked it.
“I wonder why nobody’s ever rebuilt it?” whispered Hermione.
“Maybe you can’t rebuild it?” Harry replied, “Maybe it’s like the injuries from Dark Magic and you can’t repair the damage?”
He slipped a hand from beneath the Cloak and grasped the snowy and thickly rusted gate, not wishing to open it, but simply to hold some part of the house.
“You’re not going to go inside? It looks unsafe, it might—oh, Harry, look!”
His touch on the gate seemed to have done it. A sign had risen out of the ground in front of them, up through the tangles of nettles and weeds, like some bizarre, fast-growing flower, and in golden letters upon the wood it said:
On this spot, on the night of 31 October 1981, Lily and James Potter lost their lives. Their son, Harry, remains the only wizard ever to have survived the Killing Curse. This house, invisible to Muggles, has been left in its ruined state as a monument to the Potters and as a reminder of the violence that tore apart their family.
And all around these neatly lettered words, scribbles had been added by other witches and wizards who had come to see the place where the Boy Who Lived had escaped. Some had merely signed their names in Everlasting Ink; others had carved their initials into the wood, still others had left messages. The most recent of these, shining brightly over sixteen years’ worth of magical graffiti, all said similar things.
Good luck, Harry wherever you are.
If you read this, Harry, we’re all behind you!
Long live Harry Potter.
“They shouldn’t have written on the sign!” said Hermione, indignant.
But Harry beamed at her.