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Chapter 8: At Home By Twilight
A/N: Thanks to everyone who reviewed! Your support is greatly appreciated!
Ginny woke with a start. She heard someone crying. Looking up, her eyes adjusting to the dim light, she gazed around the room. George had been kind enough to let them, Hermione, Harry and herself, spend the night. Ginny saw that Hermione was sitting on the edge of her cot. Her face looked sunken. She had dark circles under her eyes, her hair was in knots and she was shivering. Hermione had obviously heard the wailing too. It was dawn now, and slowly light was filtering through the shuttered windows. Her eyes drifted towards Harry’s bed. Then it hit her; Harry was having a nightmare. Ginny figured they would have gone away after Voldemort was defeated. Harry was writhing around the mattress, and Ginny could clearly see that his pillow was tear-stained.
Ginny’s feet lightly touched the floor as she padded over to see Hermione. The bed creaked when she sat next to her friend.
“Hermione, what should we do?” Ginny whispered, clearly frightened.
“Ginny.” Hermione spoke right to the point, in a strangely firm voice. “Leave the room. Just go.” She directed her towards the door, a tone of formality in her voice.
“But-” Ginny began. Hermione shook her head and guided Ginny out of the room. As soon as Ginny was gone, Hermione placed an extremely powerful locking charm on the door. She tip-toed cautiously up to Harry’s bedside. All of those nights in the tent brought back memories. The search for Horcruxes had been brutal on Harry; Hermione had experienced many of Harry’s nightmare tantrums. She figured it’d be best if Ginny didn’t.
Kneeling down, she listened intently as she always did, trying to find the root of the bad dream. Suddenly, Harry cried out, almost like he was in pain.
“Sirius!” he gasped. “No, not Sirius! Anyone but Sirius!” Tears were streaming down his face. Hermione fought back tears of her own. It wasn’t right for him to suffer like this. Harry cried out again.
“No! Leave him alone! Leave him alone. Leave him-” Harry seemed to calm down a bit before Hermione heard the thing that shocked her the most.
“No, Hermione! ‘Mione, ‘Mione wake up!” Hermione jumped backwards when Harry awkwardly sat bolt upright from his sleeping position before bellowing “You git!”
He fell back against the pillows. He started to mumble, his speech barely audible. “Hermione, please don’t be dead!”
Frantically, Hermione’s thoughts whirled everywhere. What was happening in his dream? Harry’s eyes shot open.
“Harry? Harry, what’s wrong?” Hermione asked nervously.
“You-you’re alive!” He sounded very surprised, so much so it almost bothered Hermione.
“Harry what happened?” Hermione asked, obviously concerned. Harry shook his head as if to clear his thoughts.
“It was the same dream I have every so often; where Bellatrix threatened Sirius in the Department of Mysteries back in 5th year. And then-then…” Harry’s voice broke off into the questioning silence.
“You thought I’d died.” Hermione whispered, finishing Harry’s explanation. Harry’s eyes reflected a look Hermione wasn’t used to seeing so out in the open; his emerald eyes were flecked with a darker hue, a certain pain clearly visible in them.
“You thought I’d died.” Hermione repeated again, even softer this time. Harry ran his hands through his hair before briskly standing up from the bed. He threw his robe over his shirt and trousers and then heading for the door.
“I’m going on a walk.” He declared and a few minutes later, Hermione saw him cross the street parallel from the window and burst into a small abandoned building situated across from George’s shop. Hermione muttered to herself in shock.
“He’d though I’d died.” Hermione’s deep chocolate eyes were suddenly mirroring a strange greenish haze. It took her a moment to understand that the crumbling window across the street was enveloped in the green too, and beyond the window, sat Harry, his head in his hands. And Hermione shielded her eyes from the pulsing green light emanating from her best friend.
Tap tap tap. Not even waiting for an answer, Ginny Weasley entered the room, to find Hermione sitting in the dark, the blinds pulled shut, her eyes closed.
“Hermione? I saw Harry leave-”
“What’s wrong with me? Why does he hate me?” Hermione asked solemnly.
“Hermione, I think you’ve got this story all wrong. Tell me what happened exactly.” Ginny raised an eyebrow at her friend’s dilemma. She certainly knew that Harry Potter did not hate Hermione Granger.
“I-I just asked him what happened in his dream and-well…” Hermione collected her thoughts and tried to think how she should tell Ginny this. As she was contemplating, Ginny interrupted her and walked over to the blinds before throwing them open. She screamed as a strong emerald glow shone through the window, before quickly sliding them shut again.
“Wow.” And that was that. They sat in silence, boring into each others eyes until Ginny cracked.
“Are you blind?” she exclaimed.
“No, I don’t think so. I only think your brother had the vision trouble because Harry emitted his glow so close to his retina-”
“Not literally, Hermione! I mean are you missing everything going on around you? Are you missing Harry coming out to sit with you when you were upset, Harry defending you so much he almost permanently blinded my brother? Can’t you connect two and two? You’re leaving your best friend to struggle through every day because he’s afraid how you’ll react when you find out the truth!” Ginny calmed her voice. “Can’t you see?”
“No. I can’t, Ginny. But help me, Ginny; tell me so I can understand!”
“And he called you the brightest witch of your age? Ha! I’m sorry, Hermione but this is something you’ll have to figure out on your own.” Ginny turned on her heel before leaving the room and crossing the street to the building where Harry sat. Hermione peeped through the curtains. When she saw that Harry had stopped glowing, she pulled them back all the way, and gazed at the window opposite her.
Ginny and Harry seemed deep in conversation. A bell tinkled in the shop below, signalling the day’s first customer. And Hermione’s queue to start figuring things out.
Hogwarts came a day after Harry’s strange behaviour. Harry Apparated to the train station alone, as Ron wasn’t talking to him, and things with Hermione, well let’s say they were a little off kilter. The scarlet steam engine pulled into the platform right at 11:00am, its scheduled time. The steam billowing off of it was suffocating, and Harry couldn’t see more than a couple feet in front of him. Not seeing Ron nor Hermione, Harry managed to slip onto the train without getting recognized too many times. The occasional parent would enthusiastically run up to praise him, but Harry could handle that. He found a compartment at the very end of the train that was unoccupied.
He sat down alone, his cheek pressed against the cool glass of the window. Thoughts of different varieties buzzed through his head. Where was Hermione? Would Ron ever talk to him again?
Despite all that had occurred, despite the fact that Voldemort was dead, and that Harry and his friends were free to go forth and do as they please, despite the fact that Harry had a chance of rescuing his godfather, he felt more alone than ever.
He couldn’t seem to come up with a way to approach his life, to live what was waiting for him. He almost didn’t want to. Because he didn’t know how.
There were only a few things of which he was completely certain. He was going back to Hogwarts. He was going to attempt to save his godfather from beyond the veil. And, he was almost painfully in love with H-
“Harry!” Harry’s thoughts were violently put to a halt at Hermione’s sudden exclamation.
“Hermione?” Harry turned his head and saw Hermione standing sheepishly on the other side of the compartment door, a small smile gracing her lips. He stood up and unlatched the door for her, ignoring the fact that she could have just done it with magic.
“There you are! Ginny and I have been looking everywhere for you!” She walked in and sat down across from him, Ginny appearing from where Hermione had come from and sitting beside Harry.
“Yeah, well, I didn’t really want to be in the middle of everything.” Harry muttered, gazing out the window. He was still slightly ashamed of his actions the previous day.
“Ron got out of St.Mungo’s this morning.” Ginny offered quietly as a conversation starter. Hermione glared out the window. Apparently the mention of him still got on her nerves. Harry merely nodded his head and gazed at the floor. He had no idea how he was supposed to react to this. Was he supposed to be happy his friend was alive? Or angry that he came out of the fight alright?
Harry could tell that Ginny was impatient about something. For the first 15 minutes on the train, she looked about ready to shout something at Hermione. Hermione seemed to be fascinated with a book on her lap. Harry could see it was journal of some sort. Hermione would occasionally scribble something down, biting her lip in thought.
Harry felt like he was watching something he shouldn’t be watching, like he was in the way of a conversation that was begging to start. The awkwardness of his current situation got so overwhelming that he had to stand up.
“I’m going to find Luna.” Hermione raised an eyebrow at his sudden proclamation. “She might want to join us.” He quickly slid the door back and stepped out into the thin corridor. As soon as his friends thought he was out of earshot, they burst into a flurry of chatter. No matter how much he thought it was rude to listen in, he did so anyway, his curiosity getting the better of him.
“See Ginny? He said Luna. He’s leaving the perfectly comfortable compartment to find Luna, just like your brother did!” Hermione hissed.
“Hermione, Harry wouldn’t go after Luna, because Ron did. Don’t you understand what’s going on?” Ginny asked.
“Of course I do. But if he doesn’t like Luna, then why did he leave?” Hermione questioned, clearly frustrated.
“Because of your random note-taking! The only sound was your scribbling, it made it really awkward. What are you writing anyway?”
“I took your advice, and I’m trying to figure out what you told me. Hey!” Hermione narrowed her eyes at her friend when Ginny snatched the book out of her hands. Harry inched closer to the door so he could listen in properly.
“He’s fidgety and looks nervous? That’s what you come up with? You have no idea how to spot the signs, do you?”
The conversation ended and Harry re-entered the compartment.
“Where’s Luna?” Ginny asked.
“I couldn’t find her.” Harry shrugged and sat back down. He took note that Hermione did nothing for the rest of the ride but gaze out the window at the blurry scenery. He also saw that she was biting her lip again, a key sign that she was deep in thought.
When the train pulled into Hogsmeade station, Harry was surprised to see Mr. and Mrs. Weasley standing on the platform. Harry winced when he saw Ron in between them, a bandage covering the eye that got the most damage.
“Maybe you should go see them, Ginny.” Harry suggested. Ginny gave no reply but left the train and walked over to greet her family. Harry removed his gaze from the compartment door and looked back at Hermione. She was gathering up her things into her bag, before standing up.
“Harry-” she started.
“Don’t bother. I’ll see you in a little while.” He spoke with a strange firmness in his voice, a hint of defeat. He now knew that Hermione had probably caught on that he loved her. He had this feeling from what they were talking about. If she didn’t know now, she would most definitely find out.
He was embarrassed. He was always very secretive with his feelings, and now here’s Hermione, decoding him like her Ancient Runes textbook, pages easily giving her private information. He was worried Hermione was going to corner him about it, make it humiliating for him. But also, he was worried Ron would never speak to him again.
“Harry-wait.” Hermione called after him. But Harry was gone.
The platform had a secure, safe, familiarity to it. As he weaved between groups of excited students, Harry saw from a distance Ron and Ginny talking. Mr. and Mrs. Weasley apparently had just left the station to go back to the Burrow; leaving both young Weasley’s looking confused at what to do next.
“Hey.” Harry said quietly as he approached them. “I’m sorry, Ron. I really overreacted. I don’t want to fight anymore, okay?”
“No, Harry. I was wrong. I wouldn’t have a life if I didn’t know you. Or Hermione. And I know now that I shouldn’t be jealous. I know now that I’ve had everything you didn’t. And it was terribly wrong of me to act the way I did. Plus, I figure that there are more important things at stake here than what we’re arguing about.” Harry followed Ron’s gaze as he motioned towards Hermione, who had exited the train and joined Ginny on the platform. Harry quickly backed away from Ron and stood beside Ginny.
“Is he okay?” he whispered concernedly in Ginny’s ear.
“Part of it is the potion he’s taking for his vision. The other part has to be that he’s in love.”
“With Hermione?!?” Harry demanded, still whispering.
“NO! Luna! Gosh Harry, haven’t you been paying attention to anything?” Ginny exclaimed dramatically.
“Sorry, Gin, but I’m a guy, give me a break! And have I ever before see Ron give someone a proper apology?” Ginny just smiled at this comment and went back to join her parents.
For the first time in days, Harry felt a heavy weight remove itself from his shoulders. Voldemort was gone. Sirius was able to be rescued. Ron was still his mate, and he and Hermione might even have a chance to be together. And for the first time in a few days, Harry smiled. A real, Harry smile. He turned and saw Ron attempting to clear things up with Hermione. It didn’t seem to be going as well as Harry’s talk, but deep down, he knew that they would work things out. They always did. A few minutes later, Ron and Hermione ended their conversation and Ron came over to talk with Harry.
“But really, Harry, I’m truly sorry. I’m not going to hold a grudge; I’m not going to mope forever. Because I’ve finally realized that Hermione’s not right for me. Luna is.” Ron beamed hopefully and on cue, the blonde dreamily walked out of the train and greeted them all. Harry just smirked at Ron. Some things would never change.
“Ron, but really, how’s your eye?” Harry asked, pulling off a serious face.
“Let’s just say that I’ve seen better days.” Harry burst out laughing, Ron joining in.
“Good to have you back, mate.” Harry beamed. A few feet away, Harry glanced up and saw Hermione, a true, happy smile shining in his direction.
Everyone bid their farewells, and apologies in the Weasley’s case, before climbing up into a carriage and heading towards the castle. There was hope. Everyone could sense it. And everyone grabbed onto it, because it had been missing for so long in all of their lives.
As a comfortable silence fell into place, Ron managed to separate the silence with the first happy moment of many to come.
“So that’s what Thestrals look like!”
“Only you can make insinuating death humorous, Ronald.” Ron was worried he had crossed a line again with Hermione and another argument was on the way, but with his one good eye, he was pleased to see a small smile on her face.
Over the distant hills, Harry saw his home, peeking out from the tips of the land, twilight enveloping its majestic presence. Hogwarts towered high above them, and Harry knew that somewhere in that castle this year, he was going to plan with his friends, on how to save Sirius, how to pass his NEWTS and how to win the next Quidditch game. And maybe, just maybe, how to win Hermione over. But, as was said before, there was a whole year ahead of him. A whole, Voldemort free year.
A/N: Thank you to all who reviewed my previous chapters, I hope you enjoy this one. I am very well aware that Ron was a bit OOC, but forgive me, it fit with the story. I really encourage you to review, because as most of you know, writers strive off feedback. Until next chapter,
To where this path leads nobody goes.,
Finding yourself in this place where things simply flow.
A shriek and a cry won't save you from fate,
find this location and you'll be given a date.