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Chapter 40: Anniversary
[I own nothing but the plot and the OC's. Everything else belongs to JK Rowling. Enjoy!]
A wounded generation, that's what he called us. Blaise, that is. I liked to call us a surviving generation – it just sounded better. But I guess we were all a bit wounded. Whether they'd been fighting in the war and been so close to it like I had or not. If we were a wounded generation, then at least we were healing now. I'd noticed it at school mostly. People were slowly becoming more and more normal, and they seemed to be over their denial. Acceptance of what had happened had started to set in – finally – and people were better. They were okay. Things were okay again.
I leaned my head against Blaises shoulder. He was going on about our wounded generation and how he thought that this whole thing would change how we viewed each other forever. He, for one, had begun to see me in another way after that final battle. After he'd seen me fight for my life. He was talking about life and death, and how he liked to believe that we'd made a difference in the wizardig world. It was a beautiful speech – I glanced up at him.
“Did you practice that speech?”
“I wanted to get it right,” Blaise admitted quietly.
It was May 2nd, we'd just been to Remus and Tonks graves and put a rose there. I had asked Blaise if it got better, in hopes that he'd have an answer – he didn't. He just hoped that it did. Draco had been okay with not going with me today, just in case we'd run in to the Weasleys. We wouldn't want to cause a scene, especially not today. He was with his parents, I wasn't sure which graves they'd visit. Crabbes, probably, and maybe Narcissa wanted to visit her sisters grave. They were sisters, after all.
Blaise and I had been to many graves today, and each name written in stone was like a stab through my heart. But the hardest was to come. Fred. I couldn't imagine how it would feel. A part of me didn't want to know how it felt. Yet, my legs kept walking that direction.
The grass beneath my feet was wet, it had been raining for days. But not today, sure there were a few clouds and the sun wasn't out – but at least it wasn't raining. With every step I took, my heart beat louder or so it felt, at least. One couldn't miss Fred's grave. It was the one with the most flowers and small letters that people had left. He'd made a lot of friends over the years. I grabbed Blaise's hand as we came closer.
I remembered him so clearly. The first time I'd met him. The pranks. The witty comments. His bravery. His death. I turned my head to the left and buried my face in Blaise's chest.
“Hey...” Blaise whispered and stroke my hair. I let my arms go around his waist and he rested his head on top of mine. He didn't say 'it's okay', because obviously it wasn't and it would've just been a stupid thing to say and he knew better. “I liked him,” he said instead. I nodded, it wasn't hard to imagine that Blaise liked Fred. They would've gotten along fine, I reckoned. “Were you two close?”
I shrugged inwardly and exhaled, “He was Ron's brother. I was close to Ron.”
“Yeah...” Blaise hugged me tighter. “It's hard to imagine you and Weasley close.”
“We were,” I mumbled and closed my eyes. Ron and I had even kissed during the final battle, and there had been a part of me that had thought that we'd stay together. It wouldn't have worked, I knew that now. Not only because of the way that Ron had changed but also because it hadn't been real. My feelings for him had never been as strong as they were with Draco. With Ron, it had been a friendship turned into something else. With Draco, it was just so intense and, well, right.
“Speak of the devil,” Blaise whispered and I opened my eyes and glanced to the side. Mr and Mrs Weasley, George, Charlie, Ginny, Ron and Harry came walking towards us. I briefly wondered where Bill and Fleur were. “Should we make a run for it?”
“Blaise...” I rolled my eyes. I chewed on my lip. “What do I do?”
Blaise looked at me as if to say 'how the heck should I know?' I sighed. I decided that it would only be right to go and talk to them. What on earth to one say in situations like these? I gave Blaise's hand a squeeze before letting it go.
“Do I stay here?” Blaise asked calmly.
“If you don't mind,” I replied and he shrugged. I offered a small smile, which probably didn't reach my eyes.
Mrs Weasley teared up when she saw me and she was the first one to greet me. I walked up to her and she gave me big hug. Somehow her scent made me think about all the days spent at the Burrow. I hugged her back, before I greeted the rest of the group. Harry and Ginny also hugged me, even if Ginny seemed somewhat reluctant. George greeted me with a simple nod.
I couldn't even imagine how difficult this day must be for him. To lose someone that was that close to you, it must hurt in ways that aren't possible for someone to understand if not experienced.
This wasn't a day for small talk, so we didn't talk much. Mrs Weasley told me that the reason to why Bill and Fleur wasn't there was because Fleur had given birth to a baby girl earlier that day. They had named her Victoire. I wondered how the next generation of us would be. The not-wounded generation. Would they be like us? Would they be entirely different? And how would this war effect them? Would it effect them at all? I congratulated her on becoming grandmother and she smiled somewhat. Victoire, I liked it. It was a name that had meaning.
It felt awkward to be there, with them. I felt out of place, like I didn't belong there. Harry glanced at me, and our eyes met. He motioned for me to come over, and I stepped closer to him.
“Are you okay?” he asked and I raised my eyebrows at him as if to tell him that it was the most stupid thing I'd heard. “Right. I meant, other than this... Is everything fine?”
“Yeah, things are good, I guess,” I replied. Harry's eyebrows furrowed in concern. It was nice to know he still cared.
“Ginny was in Diagon Alley the other day,” Harry mumbled, so that the Weasleys wouldn't hear. “She was buying clothes. She was in Violet Deluca's shop,” he paused as he noticed my reaction to the name. I snorted. Just the name was enough to upset me. Violet Deluca was Pansy Parkinsons cousin, and she was just as bad as her cousin. I had only met her once, but it was enough to make me dislike her. “You know who she is?”
“Yes,” I gritted out. “I know who she is. What about her?”
“Well, her cousin was there. Ginny overheard them talking about Pansy, well, she's pregnant.”
Was that supposed to be news to me? I nodded slowly. “I know.”
“You know?” Harry was surprised. He drew attention to himself, so he took my hand and we walked further away from the others. I took a deep breath as I began to think of how I should explain all of this. “You... But Pansy mentioned Malfoy. From what Ginny told me, it sounded as if he's the one who knocked her up.”
“He's not,” I said and gave Harry a long look. “Trust me. He's not the father. I don't know who is, but it's not Draco.”
“How do you know?”
I sighed. “Harry, honestly. I've been with Draco for months! I trust him, and he says that he didn't do it. Even Lucius says that Draco didn't do it. He's-”
“He's what?” Harry's eyebrows furrowed even more. “Lucius is what?”
“Taking care of it...” I mumbled and Harry cursed. “It's not like that.” I was about to add 'I hope', but I didn't.
“What, you trust him now, too?”
“I trust that he'd do anything to protect his family from something like that, yes. I'm not thrilled about him taking care of anything, but I do trust him about this.”
Harry didn't say anything, he looked as if he was thinking very hard about something. I didn't say anything either, it was Harrys turn. He opened his mouth to speak but nothing came out so he closed it again.
I looked at him, and realized just how much I had missed him. His hair was a mess, it was long and he didn't look like he'd brushed it in ages. It covered his forehead completely and hung in front of his glasses, even. His green eyes searched my eyes for something – answers perhaps. Then he nodded.
“You're right. He would protect his family from lies. If it's a lie, that is.”
“Trust me, Harry, it is.”
Harry nodded. “I do trust you.”
It meant so much to hear. Despite everything that had happened this past year, he still trusted me. That's true friendship, I guess. If what we had wasn't true friendship, then I didn't know what friendship was. That made me think of Ron. What had happened to our friendship?
“How's Ron?” I asked and Harry glanced over my shoulder. I guess he was looking over at Ron. “Is he better?”
“Lots,” Harry said with a small nod. “He wanted to talk to you today, but I told him not to. It wouldn't have been the right time. Or place. I suggested he'd write you a letter instead.”
I must admit that he was right about that, even though I didn't think that he had the right to do that. If Ron had wanted to talk to me now, I don't know how I would've reacted. I was already so emotional. Not to mention – how would Blaise have reacted?
“A letter sounds... fine,” I said slowly. “Is he still in therapy?”
“Yup, once every two weeks now, though. It used to be twice a week, so you can tell he's getting better.”
“That's good,” I said and it felt as if a weight had been lifted off my shoulders. I had no idea that it had been such a big deal to me. “That's really good.”
“And George? How's he today?”
Harry grimaced and shook his head. “Quiet.” And when it came to George, that wasn't a good sign. “I've never seen him like this. It's killing him.”
“I can't even imagine,” I said sadly. I reached out and put my hand on Harry's arm. “And you? How are you?”
Harry swallowed hard and looked down. It was killing him. I stroke his arm and bit my lip. It was so hard to see him like this. He cleared his throat. “I can't – I mean, it was all because of me. If I hadn't been born, then -”
“Don't go there. We've had this conversation before, Harry. Don't blame yourself. Don't.”
“Can't help it.”
I couldn't imagine the guilt he felt. I could hear it when he spoke, and it must be a hundred times worse for him than for me. I couldn't imagine the nightmares he must have, or the images he must've seen when he closed his eyes. I knew how bad it'd been for me, how it still was sometimes even though it'd gotten better, but I couldn't imagine how it was for him.
I took a hold of his hand. There was nothing else I could do but to be there for him. And I would be. Harry squeezed my hand.
“I've missed you,” I whispered and Harry looked up at me. I hadn't expected myself to say it out loud, and Harry seemed surprised. Perhaps he thought I'd forgotten all about him now that he had left Hogwarts and I was making new friends. He pulled me to him and his arms came around me. I sunk in to his embrace and once again, my eyes filled with tears at the familiar scent.
“I've missed you, too,” he mumbled and hugged me tighter. “I wish we would've gotten together under other circumstances.”
I nodded against his chest. “We need to see each other more often, Harry. You know, I have a Quidditch game coming up in June. We're allowed to invite friends and family, I thought... Since my parents are Muggles, that maybe you'd want to come?”
“I'd like that,” Harry said without hesitation. “I'd love that, actually. I miss Hogwarts.”
“It's not the same without you there,” I admitted as we parted. I wiped away a few tears and Harry cleared his throat once more. Harry glanced over my shoulder and let out a deep breath. I turned around.
George was sitting down on the grass, not caring about how wet it was, not caring if anyone saw him cry. Molly was trying to stay strong, I could tell. But she couldn't keep her tears from running down her cheeks. I turned my head away. It felt too private to watch them. I glanced over at Blaise who was holding the flower I was going to place at Freds grave. He looked down at his hands, obviously trying to avoid looking at the Weasleys. Harry followed my glance and snorted a bit when he saw Blaise.
“Another miracle change of character?” he asked rudely and I shot him an annoyed look. He would know, he'd met Blaise at the joke shop.
“Blaise is -” I trailed off, not knowing how to finish that sentence. He was kind, funny, as far from selfish as one could get, caring, amazing, awesome. “He's a good guy.”
“I can only remember him as a cruel git, a racist,” Harry said.
“That's not fair. Didn't you see another side of him when you met him at the joke shop?”
“Doesn't count,” Harry muttered,stubbornly “It was only for a second or two. Doesn't change my view of him.”
Of course it didn't. I sighed. I could live with that, though. Because I knew that if Harry were to spend time with Blaise, he would change his opinion. I told him that Blaise and Neville were fairly good friends, and Harry's jaw dropped. I could tell that he wasn't expecting that.
“A lot have changed since you left,” I reminded him and Harry mumbled 'obviously'. “I mean it, a lot has changed. You'll be surprised when you come and visit.”
Harry glanced over my shoulder again, I followed his glance and found him staring at Ginny. She was crying, too. In silence. One wouldn't have been able to tell that she was crying if one hadn't seen the tears. Her red hair was in a messy ponytail, I figured she couldn't have cared less about how she looked a day like this.
I sighed and looked back at Harry, “I feel like I'm in the way. I should go.”
“Nonsense. You're not in the way at all, you're like family,” Harry said quickly. I was glad he still thought so, but for me that wasn't how it was anymore.
“Still, I've got – well, you know... More graves to visit.” How do one possibly say that and not sound awful? But it was true. There were so many graves to visit. People I'd cared about, people I'd admired – I felt the need to visit all of their graves. Harry nodded, he understood. We began to walk back to the others, and I hurried over to Blaise, as he was holding the flower I was going to place at Freds grave. Blaise looked up as I came towards him and handed me the rose.
“You okay?” he asked as he saw that I'd been crying. He sent a small glare over my shoulder. “Did he say something stupid?”
“No, I'm fine,” I assured him and he relaxed before he nodded. “I'll be right back.”
Nobody said anything when I placed the rose at his grave, George didn't look up as I stood beside him and I felt awkward in the middle of all the grief. I repeated in my head 'I'm sorry, I'm sorry', as if it would make me feel better – quite the opposite. It made me feel worse.
With a nod directed at Mrs Weasley, I began to walk away. I caught a glimpse of Ron, he was staring at me. I looked over at him and he nodded at me, as if to say 'hi'. I nodded back, it was the polite thing to do. A friendly nod. Was a start, wasn't it?
When I reached Blaise, he turned around without a sound and he grabbed my hand as we began to walk towards his sisters grave. I squeezed his hand.
“Harry knew,” I mumbled to him as we walked away. “About Pansy being pregnant.”
“Crap. How on Earth does he know about that? It wasn't supposed to come out.”
“Ginny overheard Pansy talking about it in Violets shop. I told him that Lucius was dealing with it, and he-”
“Hold on, you did what?” Blaise stared at me as if I was out of my mind. “You do realize that if anything happens to Pansy now, Potter will suspect Lucius?”
Crap. I hadn't thought about that. Many things could happen – she wasn't that far along, she could have a miscarriage, or she could – if she found out that I'd been talking to Harry about it (not that it was very likely that she would...) fake an injury or something, just to get Lucius off her back. I groaned and Blaise nodded.
“And they call you bright,” Blaise said with a snort. I sent him a small glare. But I couldn't help but to agree with him – what had I been thinking?
Blaise and I had stayed a long time at Biancas grave and we'd talked. About everything we could think of. He'd told me about his childhood and about his family. I'd told him about mine. I guess you could say that we'd grown closer during our visit to the graveyard. At least it felt so as we walked in to the Malfoy Manor together. Blaise wouldn't stay long, he was just going to say hi to the Malfoys and then he'd Floo to his mother for the evening. He'd be back at school the next day, we just got one day off after all.
The portraits all kept silent as we walked past them, but they still looked at me with disgust – nothing new there. The Malfoy family was gathered in the kitchen for some reason and they were all waiting for us. Narcissas eyes were red from crying and she looked rather miserable. I walked up to Draco and he gave me a small smile. It was just what I needed after a day like this.
“Hey,” said Blaise as he walked in to the kitchen. “I'll be going pretty soon, I was just wondering if I could maybe speak to you for a second?” Draco looked at him as he realized that it was him that Blaise spoke to. With a nod, he followed Blaise out and left me in the kitchen with Narcissa and Lucius.
“Yes, that reminds me...” said Narcissa before walking away, too. I glanced around in the kitchen in silence, just waiting for Draco to come back.
“Well, I'm going to the balcony,” Lucius said in a bored voice. “Care to join me?”
Hell had frozen over. I was sure of it. Not wanting to be rude, I nodded. The balcony wasn't far from the kitchen, so it didn't take us long to get there. When out there, I glanced down and wondered why we were out here. Was he planning to throw me from the balcony? Had he been secretly plotting my murder? I swallowed hard and told myself that I was being paranoid.
“I thought you'd like to know that I have successfully taken care of the Pansy situation.”
I released a breath I hadn't realized that I was holding. I wanted to laugh at the fact that he called it the 'Pansy Situation', but I kept it together. Lucius, who had been admiring the view, turned his face to look at me.
“That's good news,” I said hesitantly. “What did you – I mean, well...”
“What I had to do? Nothing much. Turns out that all Parkinsons are the same. They're all after one thing,” Lucius made a significant pause before he spoke again. “Money.”
“You paid for her to keep silent?” Oh, I could see so many flaws in that plan. Knowing her, she could talk even though she'd been paid. She could tell the world that the Malfoys had paid her to keep her mouth shut. And that would just make the whole thing worse. “She might speak anyway, you know...”
“I'm not stupid, Miss Granger,” Lucius drawled. “I made her make an Unbreakable Vow.”
Of course he made her do that. I slapped myself mentally for not thinking of that, myself. “Oh. Good. So, it's really over? She wont be bothering us again?”
“She better not, or she'll regret it.”
“Good,” I said and Lucius furrowed his eyebrows. “Uh... Harry knew about the pregnancy, and that she was claiming that Draco was the father.”
“Potter knew? That's bad. You didn't tell him anything about my involvement, did you?”
I swallowed hard and shook my head, “I – well, I might've mentioned it. But only briefly.”
Lucius sighed and muttered something about being glad that he'd been able to handle it before Potter heard anything else. He was already being checked up on by Aurors every once in a while, I knew that. I sighed, “I'll write him and explain.”
With a nod, Lucius went back inside and I was left out there alone, until Draco joined me. Apparently, Blaise had left to go to his mother. I was a bit sad that he hadn't even said goodbye, but I guessed he was in a bit of a hurry, or something. Draco looked amused. He walked up to me and as he stood behind me, he let his arms sneak their way around my body and he pulled me do him.
“So, Potter knew, huh?”
Naturally, Blaise had told him everything. I leaned my head back against his chest and nodded. “Yeah, he knew everything. Ginny had overheard Pansy talking about it. He seemed surprised that I knew about it, actually.”
Draco rested his head on my shoulder. “What had he expected? That I'd keep something like that from you? Seriously?” He hugged me harder, and I smiled.
“Probably. By the way, did you ever get to know who the father was?” I tilted my head to the side and our eyes met. He nodded slowly. “Well, was it someone we knew?”
“Ah, well, yeah. No, we didn't know him. She told my father that the father was a Half-blood from Ireland. He had a common name, like Tom or Jim. I honestly don't remember. No one we knew, though.”
“Just some random person?” I snorted, disappointed. “I'd expected something more outrageous than that, coming from her.”
Draco laughed but agreed nonetheless. He leaned down and kissed me softly. It wasn't a long kiss, it was short and sweet. I turned around and looked at him. He looked exhausted. His hair was all over the place, and his eyes were tired but his gaze still intense. Draco took my hand and we began to walk to his room – or that's were I assumed that we were heading.
“So, how was your day?” He asked softly, and I leaned my head against his shoulder as we walked. Then I began to go over my day with him, and he listened. It was nice to have someone to talk to, someone I could tell everything. Was it horrible that I felt happy and lucky at a day like this? Because I did.
[Hey guys, sorry about the slow updating :( I feel horrible, but the eyeinfection bothered me for a month, even though I got antibiotics for it, and the summer has been kept me so busy! But I'm glad to say that I managed to get this chapter done before the queue closure, and I managed to finish the next chapter of Hiding Behind Books, as well. Yay. I hope you don't hate me, and that you haven't given up on this story – because I haven't. And we're slowly coming to an end :/ so sad. Only like 3 chapters left. Now, that's surreal. And I'm rambling. So! What did you think of this chapter? I re-wrote it many times before I found it decent, haha. I hope you like it! And Harry was in it! And the Weasleys! How did you like that? Thanks for reading. - Cathyyy]