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Chapter 3: Right Next To You
Hermione walked inside the corridors, her mind crowded with a million different thoughts. With nothing but the damaged walls surrounding her, she couldn’t help but wonder what happened in that hallway almost three nights ago. Had a wizard lost their life right where she was standing, or had they gotten severely injured? Had it been the killer that stood where she did, the one that stripped someone else of their life and their right to live? Had it been Lupin and Tonks losing their life upon this stone, or was it Fred? Could it be just a random person? A silhouette took the person’s place in Hermione’s mind, but equally as important to remember as any other that lost their life.
Ginny appeared around the corner, sitting on a white, stone bench with no one by her side. Her body faced the window as she gazed into the sunlight with a small but almost unnoticeable smile on her face. Walking quietly over to her, Hermione couldn’t help but wonder what was on her mind.
“Ginny?” Hermione said, gently placing her hand on Ginny’s shoulder.
“Bloody-” Ginny turned around quickly and her heart was beating quickly. “Hermione, you scared me.”
“Sorry.” Hermione took a seat next to Ginny, facing the window. “I’ve always been the one to be quiet I suppose.”
“Yeah, I guess you could say that. You always have been quiet one.” Ginny said softly, gazing out of the clear window. “The silent, smart type that always seems to creep up on people and kick them in their arse once they realize it.” A small pip of laughter came from Hermione, and Ginny gave a weak smile. She straightened up before she spoke again. “I’ve also been the quiet type too you know?” Hermione hid a giggle behind her hand.
“You? Ginny Weasley? Quiet?” She asked, an uncontrollable grin on her face, though she was trying her best to hide it. “You’re only quiet every once in a blue moon.”
“True.” She admitted. A comfortable silence fell between them as they gazed out towards the rolling hills. The sun barely peeked over the mountains as if it was hiding from someone or maybe even spying on them. A phoenix flew overhead, it’s wings gracefully spread out and it soared through the wind with a great complexity.
“Hermione?” Ginny asked, her voice a little shaky. Hermione noticed a tear rolling down Ginny’s cheek and Hermione simply reached over and pulled Ginny into a comforting hug. Ginny started to sob into Hermione’s shoulder, and Hermione rubbed her back gently to help soothe her.
“I just c-can’t hold it in any longer Hermione,” Her muffled words were barely audible, but Hermione had grown used to mumbled words with listening to Ron with his mouth stuffed. “Mum is crying almost every day, Dad and my brothers are trying to be strong but I just can’t hold it in any longer. I feel like I have to be s-s-strong but I just can’t, I just--,”
Not once had Hermione seen Ginny cry, and it felt strange to see her do so.
“Shhhhh…” Hermione calmed her, and she could feel Ginny started to take calming breaths. “It’s all going to be okay, we’ll all get through this. Everything will be okay.”
“Hermione, how are you handling it?” She sniffed. “You know, all of this.” She gestured around towards the ruins, and all of the gaping holes in the walls.
“I have my family here to help me through it,” She said, pulling Ginny closer by her shoulder. “It’s all of you that get me through it.”
Ginny’s mouth moved into a smile, one that hadn’t been present for a few hours now. “My family is your family after all.” Ginny laughed. “Soon enough, you will be part of the family, truly part of it.”
“Oh…” Hermione whispered, and Ginny watched as Hermione’s eyes lit up and the corners of her mouth twitched into a grin.
“You know he loves you,” Ginny sniffled, sitting up and letting Hermione’s arm fall back to her side.
“Well…” Hermione said awkwardly.
“Hermione, will you two just admit it already?” Ginny said, her voice a bit louder than usual. “You two love each other more than anyone I know, stop pretending and just let the rest of your lives begin. You deserve it, both of you.”
“Thanks.” Hermione smiled. “That was a nice little pep talk you gave there, it really got me excited.”
With this, Ginny rolled her eyes and stood up. “It was, don’t deny it. Now, let’s go find the boys before they find another way to get themselves killed.”
Hermione laughed at this, as she knew that there was only one thing that was worse than getting themselves killed.
Which was getting expelled.
“Where’ve you been?” Harry smirked, his arms crossed. He waggled his eyebrows and Ron walked up to him and punched him in the shoulder.
“You lousy git.” Ron muttered, and a laugh from both the men followed. They both weaved their way through the corridor, passing many teachers who were scarred from the battle, fixing the damage done to the school.
“So how did it go with Hermione?” Harry asked. “Spare the details.”
“We basically just talked.” Ron answered, rubbing the back of his neck sheepishly. “She was awake when I walked in, staring out the window.
“You two just talked?” Ron nodded. “Nothing more?”
“Well, we snogged a bit but then Ginny—,” Ron said, and he could see Harry trying to hide a quiet laugh.
“She walked in on you, did she not?” Ron nodded and Harry roared in laughter.
“She did,” Ron repeated himself as he slid his hands into his pockets awkwardly. As the turned the corner, they saw the old Defense Against The Dark Arts classroom blown to pieces and chunks and Harry’s laughter soon grew into a somber silence. “Bloody hell.” Ron muttered.
A lump gathered in Harry’s throat as he climbed over various pieces of stones and rock that had been blown away by a battle that needn’t to be fought. He picked up a wand that lie on the ground next to a pile of shattered glass, the Elm broken in half and the dragon heartstring holding it together in a lanky manner. He placed it back on the ground gently, and continued to look around. The place where Lupin once stood, where the imposter Mad-Eye Moody stood, where the delirious Dolores Umbridge stood, was now a burnt memoir of Harry’s childhood.
A tear rolled down his cheek, hoping that he didn’t burst out into tears. His home was burnt to the ground, blown to smithereens in certain places. The hallways took the biggest blow, their finely crafted archways now holes in the wall with jagged edges. Windows were no longer present; it was shattered glass on the ground to add to the stones.
“It’s a mess,” Ron said while squatting down and fumbling with rock in his hands. “A bloody mess.”
“It is isn’t it?” Harry whispered to himself, brushing himself as he stood up. “I think that we should go and put the Elder Wand back with Dumbledore, before anything else happens.”
“Yeah,” Ron agreed, and they both walked towards Dumbledore’s tomb that lay in front of the Black Lake made of stone white marble. Still cracked from its last intruder, Harry pushed aside the small piece of stone that lay on top of the deceased headmaster. His eyes did not want to meet his headmaster’s glazed eyes, only to remember the night atop the astronomy tower.
He moved his hand slowly towards Dumbledore’s pale hand, and he felt a surge of cold rush through him. He quickly withdrew his hand.
“You alright mate?” Ron took a step forward.
“Yeah,” Harry replied, shaking his head. “Yeah, I’m fine.” Harry blinked a few times before taking Dumbledore’s hand in his and placing the wand inside of it. He closed the hand around the wand before placing it back down on Dumbledore’s torso.
“Alright, it’s there.” Harry exhaled, carefully mending each crack in the tomb with his wand. “Not to be disturbed again.”
A silence overcame the two as Harry bowed his head in front of Dumbledore’s tomb to show his respects, believing this would be one of his last times at his tombs; as it would become too difficult to come by again.
“Hey mate,” Ron broke the silence, pointing to an Elm tree standing nearby. “Do you remember that tree?”
Harry looked at it for a moment, his focus was still askew in his mind, but he knew that it was a silly question and that he probably had had nothing to do with the tree.
“No.” Harry said slowly.
“It’s not special then?” Harry shook his head, a look of questioning shot towards Ron. “I think Hermione’s gone mental.”
“We’ve all been mental for a while Ron.”
“Yeah,” Ron said. “Absolutely bloody mental, but somehow we keep it together.” A cackle of laughter came from Harry.
“We’ve been looking for you four!” Mrs. Weasley screeched, running at the two couples with her arms outstretched. Ron sighed as Ginny twitched with anticipation, and Harry and Hermione stood there, waiting for the loving embrace they haven’t had for months on end. “Where have you been? You know worried I get about all of you; three of you were gone for months. I believe I should be able to know if you’re taking off again.”
“We’re not going to take off again, Mrs. Weasley.” Harry said. “It’s sort of a one time thing for us.”
“So, what’s your explanation for being gone then?”
“Hermione and I were over repairing the library,” Ginny said, and Ron and Harry hid their laughter with coughs. Ron saw Hermione roll her eyes as she noticed the boys. He even smirked when Hermione was trying to hide a giggle herself. “We weren’t with the boys.”
“Now, boys.” She peered over at them. “Where were you two, then?”
“We walked around the grounds, repaired a few things.” Ron said before Harry had the chance to say anything. He didn’t have to explain where the two were; Ron felt Harry didn’t quite want to remember it all that much.
“Alright then, now all of you eat up. You must all be starving.” She pushed them towards what was beginning to look like the old great hall again, a single house table in the center of the room. Kingsley and Arthur sat in the corner with a cup of tea, talking over anything that came to their minds. Andromeda stood in the corner repairing a stain glass window, while Teddy slept in a crib that rocked itself back and forth.
“Harry?” Hermione questioned. “Are you alright, you look a bit off.”
“No, I’m fine.” He said. “Just thinking about Teddy, that’s all.” Hermione said no more as the four of them dug into their lunch. Ron especially attacking the choices of food that they had.
“So,” Ron said minutes later, his mouth full with chicken. “Library, eh?” He nudged Hermione, and she pushed her weight into him.
“Oh shut up.” She laughed, taking a bite of her salad. “I thought you would’ve known that I would go there first, of all the places that I wanted to save…”
“I would’ve guessed you’d go there,” Ron said. “I would’ve run straight for the—,”
“Kitchen.” All of them said together, and Ron slumped in his seat. Harry and Ginny broke out into loud laughter while Hermione giggled next to him.
“Come on, love.” Hermione said. “We just know you too well.”
“Guess so.” He said. “But I do know some things about some of you that you don’t, and I take pride in figuring these things out.” Ron smirked at his secrets, and the rest of them began to recover from their laughter.
“What are my secrets, for example?” Ginny said, leaning against her left palm and looking at Ron.
“You bite your lip when you’re concentrating,” Ron started, and Ginny already knew what she was in for. “You eat your food by color, you blush when someone starts talking about you…”
“You can stop now, Ron. Thanks.” Ginny blushed, proving one of Ron’s secrets. Harry leaned over and whispered in her ear, something that made her blush even more. Ron fidgeted in his seat a bit, and Hermione placed a hand on his leg to stop him.
“So do I have any secrets, mate? Some that the rest of the world don’t know?” He laughed a bit at his joke, and Ron straightened up.
“I can only think of one.” Ron said, as he tapped his fingers on the table while racking his brain for secrets about Harry. “I can’t think of another, but the one I can remember is that you talk in your sleep.”
“What?” Harry said. “I do, well, other than when Voldemort was going into my mind.” He said casually, and Ginny tensed up next to him. Ron felt Hermione do the same as well, so snaked his arm around her waist and she relaxed into his embrace.
“Yeah, started ever since second year. You started groaning and talking, so the mates and I set a spell around your bed so we couldn’t hear you.” Ron explained.
“What about fifth year when I saw Nagini and your…dad.” Harry said cautiously, and Ron just answered without a problem.
“We forgot that night.” Ron shrugged off. “I’m glad that we forgot though, turned out to be a good thing. Hermione and I didn’t cast one around your bed in the tent, we couldn’t risk it.” He said.
“Well, that’s nice to know in advance.” Ginny said, nudging Harry with her elbow. Harry merely rolled his eyes.
“And as for you, ‘Mione,” She opened her mouth in protest, but Ron cut her off before she could get in a word. “You bite your pencil when you’re doing your homework, and your eyes flutter when you get frustrated. You pull your knees up to your chest when you sit down on the couch, and you’d rather lean on someone’s shoulder than sit there alone. You don’t like me playing Quidditch because you’re scared I’ll get hurt.”
“That’s not true—,” She lied, but then Ron cut her off once more.
“You and I both know it’s the truth.” He said.
“Well, King Ron,” Hermione said with a matter-of-fact tone in her voice which Ron snorted at. “I know secrets about you too.”
“Really?” Ron questioned. “Name a few, I dare you.” Hermione straightened up and cleared her throat, as if she was going to give a speech. Harry and Ginny watched this as if it was a tennis match, and a chuckle would come from either of them as the drama rose to higher levels.
“Only Ron and Hermione are capable of this,” Harry whispered and Ginny smiled back at him.
“I know.” She replied back.
“Okay, Ronald. For one you are afraid of spiders, deathly afraid of them. Your boggart is, strangely enough, a spider and—,”
Hermione felt Ron suck in a breath quickly, not exactly sure why he had. Pausing for a moment, she saw Ron give a weak smile to her, and she continued her list.
“So, there you have it.” Hermione finished, nearly a minute later. Harry chuckled at this, and Ginny stood up and grabbed his hand. “All of the King’s secrets.”
“Yeah, I guess.” Ron laughed as Harry stood up.
“We’re going to head off guys, Madam Pomfrey wants to check us out.” Ginny said. “We’ll catch up with you two in the common room later.”
“Sorted. We’ll see you then.” Hermione smiled, and both Harry and Ginny then began to walk out of the Great Hall. “I bet you five galleons those two aren’t going to Madam Pomfrey. Madam Pomfrey isn’t even here today.” Hermione said with a small laugh. Ron took Hermione’s hand, placed a tender kiss on the side of her cheek, and nodded towards the Great Hall doors where Harry and Ginny had just left. Hermione gladly followed him.
“You know it’s not true.” Ron’s quiet voice traveled throughout the common room, Hermione the only other one present. Hermione turned her body to look at him and she saw that his eyes were down towards his folded hands, avoiding any eye contact. A worried look spread across Hermione’s face and she watched as Ron took in deep breaths. She was almost sure that these were in attempt to calm himself down, or in attempt to either not become angry or to not start to tear.
“What’s not true?” She questioned, and she saw Ron scrunch up his nose for a second before staring back at his hands again, his thumbs twiddling. As she knew this was hard for him, she placed a gentle hand on his arm, and she felt him instantly relax.
“My boggart.” He said softly, a shiver sent from the top of his spine and making its way down his freckled back when Hermione moved her hand towards the top of his spine. Hermione nearly shivered herself; she felt the motions tingle in her fingers. “It’s not a spider.”
“Yes it is Ron, I saw it. I saw it in our third year…” Ron picked up his head and looked at her, in result Hermione stopped talking; she had seen the look in his face. The unthinkable look on his face, she’d never seen it before. didn’t even have to ask because before she could get a word in, Ron had already begun to explain.
“Your screams.” He saw her confused complexion on her face turn into a stunned look. “Malfoy manor.” Those four words were all Ron needed to say, enough for Hermione’s heart to drop to her stomach. She could feel him shaking a bit, and she watched him as he tried to hide it. In response to his words, she threw herself on top of Ron, kissing him full on the mouth.
“Ron…” She moaned against his lips and she pulled away slowly. She laced his fingers through her own, and she rubbed her thumb over “Don’t worry about me, I’m here.”
“You don’t know how it was for me, Hermione.” He whispered, playing with her fingers. “It was…agony. I felt like I was right there with you, feeling it.”
“I felt the same, though I thought more about you than I did the pain. I screamed as if I was talking to you. Communicating with you.” She whispered back. “That’s the reason I stayed alive, that’s the reason I didn’t give into her.”
“You stayed for me?” He asked, and she nodded.
“You were one of the only things I was fighting for Ron, maybe the one that I thought about the most. I couldn’t let you die, I just couldn’t. I didn’t know if you felt the same about me, so I thought why give in if there’s a reason to push through it.”
The corners of Ron’s mouth soon rose to form his lop-sided grin, and he placed a gentle kiss on her forehead. “If the world is ending, and I mean both literally and mentally, I’ll be right next to you through everything.”
Hermione’s look turned into a loving, compassionate expression, and she smiled into his blue eyes. “If I have you next to me, that’s the only thing I’ll ever need.”
A/N: CAUTION! LONG AUTHOR’S NOTE AHEAD!;D
I finished this the 22nd of December from last year. I guess that’s just weird to say that, knowing it was only 2 weeks ago…anyways. The queue closed on the 23rd, but since the UK is eight hours ahead of us where I live, I finished at 9 at night, I had no such luck putting it in the queue:/
So, this was a rather…sad chapter I guess. My friend says that an author’s writing reflects feelings. I wrote this during finals week, so that’s my sadness right there Dx Also, I haven’t updated this for…six months? So, I wrote a longer chapter than I was going to for this story. I just felt extremely bad about not updating. If you take the first two chapters and combine them, the word count is still less than this one chapter; I’m rather proud of that. Also, Inspiration also comes at the worst times for me, that’s another factor for the six months of blankness in my mind.
So…I have 4 stories out now… and I’m doing a promo for Call Me Juliet now because it is NEW and I would love feedback (it’s a Ron and Hermione story;D Alternate universe also^_^) So it’s about Hermione, who never knew about magic but did indeed get her Hogwarts letter, and she stayed as a Muggle. Her parents never let her see the letter, hence she didn’t know about Hogwarts, she simply thought it was a boarding school in Scotland. So Hermione has lost her job, she needs to pay the rent, and she needs a job. Where better to get a job than at Ginny’s restaurant where… gasp :O Ron Weasley is working there!;D Who would’ve thought?:) So. I just thought it would spark your interest, since this is more of a Ron and Hermione crowd. I wouldn’t do this on my Harry and Ginny story. They would not like that as much as you lot would:)
So. Yeah…I hope that you guys liked this chapter. This has some of my favourite ideas in it^_^
As always…review? (367 word A/N wow…)