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Break It To Me Gently by ykai
Chapter 3: Aftermath: On My Own
A/N: Chapter 3 comes your way. This may be the last chapter I will be able to post for the next couple of weeks. Family emergency and all that. So without further ado...
August 17, 1998; 9:39 A.M.
From his place near the window, he spotted an owl heading towards the house. He opened the window to let it in, wondering who else besides the Weasleys knew his current whereabouts.
I don’t think I’ll be able to come to the Burrow this summer. I’m currently in Italy, spending time with my parents. I need some time for myself after everything that happened the last few months. You understand right?
By the way, Professor McGonagall owled me recently of the plans she had for the upcoming school year. I hope that you, Ron and Ginny would consider returning to finish our final year. I miss you guys.
P.S. Her name is Juno. My parents bought her for me in Australia.
Harry stared at the letter for a few moments, wrapped in his thoughts. Yes, McGonagall informed him of the plans as well. She was even offering to reinstate him as Gryffindor Quidditch Captain should he chose to return. He told her he would think about it and said nothing more. It wasn’t that he didn’t deem it important to finish his education. Because believe it or not, he liked being in school no matter how uninterested he might have seemed in the previous years. It was just the Voldemort thing that kept him from exerting more effort in his studies. That, plus all the never ending gossip that swirled around him. But now that particular phase in his life was over. Well, most of it. The gossip part still ran stronger than ever. No, he wasn’t lazy to go back. He was simply tired of all the stares and whispers. That was the main reason he was staying where he was- to get away from it all, even just for a short period of time.
A few weeks after Fred’s funeral and Hermione’s disappearance, he himself made his leave. June found him in Godric’s Hollow, fulfilling his promise to himself that he would return. Contrary to what many people expect, he didn’t tear down the house. It harbored too many memories- of pain, or betrayal, of sacrifice, and most recently, of victory. So no, he left it as it was. As a living reminder to them and the generations that would follow. He left the Hollow come July, unsure of where to go next. He was welcome to return to the Burrow but knew the Weasleys needed their family to be alone for time being. It was lucky for him then to be summoned by Kingsley Shacklebolt. He had been staying in Spinner’s End since then, in a small house left to him by no other than Severus Snape himself.
He sighed as he got up and flicked his wand to pack his trunk. With another wave, he sent it to the Burrow. He grabbed a handful of Floo powder from the pot above the fireplace. “Better go tell Ron the bad news,” he mumbled as he stepped in and threw down the green powder.
August 17, 1998; 10:28 A.M
The quill was still clutched in my hand though the owl had left long ago. Ginny had written to me earlier that week, inviting me to spend the rest of our summer at the Burrow. In the previous years, I flooed over as soon as my parents had me. But given the current situation, I had been undecided. I kept putting off writing a reply and had been busying myself with meaningless tasks. When I found nothing else to do, I took walks around. I never ventured far, only a couple blocks. Even after all this time the press was still hot on my heels, demanding an interview when they had me cornered. I got tired of it all though and knew I had to reply to Ginny soon. That’s how I found myself that morning, parchment and quill in hand, ready to jot down the inevitable.
Dear Ginny and Ron,
I paused, looking at the last name I wrote. I was unsure whether or not it was proper for me to return after what I had done to them. I left in the wee hours of the morning, placing Charms on everyone so as not to wake them up too soon. I left a note on Ron’s dresser, addressed to all of them. Yes, I was a coward, but a courteous one indeed. I gave them my reasons for leaving, for the need to be alone. It was up to them to accept it and let me be. But I knew those three well so I took extra precaution to prevent being tracked down. I, Hermione Jean Granger, am not the ‘Brightest Witch of This Age’ for nothing.
I scowled at the letter, crumpling it up and pulling out a fresh roll of parchment.
We all needed time to heal. This was my way of coping.
August 17, 1998; 10:32 A.M.
I was enveloped in a firm hug the moment I stepped out from the hearth. “Molly - Can’t – Breathe-”
“Let him go, Mum. He didn’t kill ol’ Voldy just to be hugged to death,” a chuckling voice could be heard saying from somewhere in the room.
Molly released me from the hug but kept her grip on my upper arms. She turned her head this way and that, scrutinizing my every feature. “You look thinner since the last time I saw you,” she stated, “Are you sure you’re eating enough?” Before I had the chance to answer, she let go of my arms. “No worries,” she patted my cheek lightly, “We’ll fatten you up in no time.”
Someone snickered behind me just as Molly was leaving. “Good to see you again, mate.”
I turned to see Fred’s portrait on the wall above the fireplace, seemingly alive just like the Headmasters’ portraits in Hogwarts.
“I know, I know. Cool, isn’t it? I even have my own portrait in the Gryffindor Common Room and the shop in Diagon Alley. I’m that indispensable,” Fred smirked. “Now get going. Ron is moping in his bedroom. Again.” He rolled his eyes before walking out of the frame.
I cocked my head to one side, not exactly getting what Fred meant by ‘again’. The sound of approaching footsteps made me turn around and position my hands in front him just in case someone else decided I needed another bone crushing hug this morning. I swear I could hear Fred snickering in his portrait.
“Hey, Harry. What’s with the ridiculous pose?” Ginny asked as she entered the room.
I dropped my hands immediately. “Blasted death hugs,” I mumbled to myself.
“What was that?”
“Nothing, nothing. I missed you,”
“And I, you,” she smiled up at me, closing the short distance between us and pulling me into a warm embrace. I stiffened for a moment before returning the gesture. I missed this terribly, missed her terribly.
“Hey, listen. I got a letter from ‘Mione. She’s-”
“Not coming. I know. I got her note just before you came in,” Ginny interrupted, holding up the letter. “Ron’s moping in his room. You better go up there before he does something stupid.”
I nodded. “I’ll see you later.” I gave Ginny a quick peck on the cheek before hurrying up the stairs.
Ginny followed Harry with her eyes before giving her attention back to the note. She was reading it aloud for Ron, who was too scared to read it by himself. She had only gotten to the part ‘I don’t think…’ when Ron had stormed from the room and the fireplace bells had tinkled. She went to sit on the couch to finish what Hermione had to say.
Thank you for inviting me yet again to the Burrow this summer but I don’t think I’m coming over this year. I wanted to spend as much time with my parents as possible before school starts in September.
Oh that reminds me, Professor McGonagall is reopening Hogwarts in September. Since Harry, Ron and I were on the run during our supposed 7th year, we are being invited back to take our NEWT year and complete our education. I really do hope you would consider going back, I know I am. Hogwarts won’t be the same without you guys.
I really am sorry for not being there this summer. My parents and I visited a lot of places. I’ll tell you all about it when we meet again.
All My Love,
P.S. I got you souvenirs from the countries we’ve been to. I can’t wait for you to see them!