Chapter 4 : Tidings of Sorrow
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The afternoon slowly was turning into evening when Ron and Hermione appeared with a crack outside the Burrow. Ron held their bulging satchels in one hand and Hermione’s arm tightly with his other. Tears streamed down their faces as they headed straight for the Burrow’s front door, ignoring the reds and oranges as the sun began its descent behind the forest. Both knew that no one would react well to the news that Voldemort had killed Harry Potter. Not because Harry was the Boy-Who-Lived but because they considered him part of their family. They stopped at the front door when Ron released Hermione’s arm to knock on the door with a faint hope it was anyone but his dad answering the door.
“Who’s there?” Mr. Weasley demanded through the shut door. Ever since the Ministry had put out the useless flyers on safety, Mr. Weasley had been fanatical about following the suggestions to the letter to everyone’s dismay.
Ron closed his eyes briefly, taking a deep breath when he heard his Dad’s voice. “Ron and Hermione,” he managed to reply in spite of his tight throat, trying desperately to keep his voice steady. Hermione tightened her grip on his arm as she looked around fearfully, her wand held tightly in her free hand. She kept seeing Death Eaters peering out from unusual places. A second glance told her it was her imagination.
“What do you hate to eat?” Mr. Weasley asked, once more following the useless Ministry protocols, for even Professor Dumbledore had suggested that he would have researched his own answer.
“Dad, there isn’t time for this!” Ron shouted as he lost his temper. Hermione jumped slightly causing him to look behind them with a hastily drawn wand, scared that Voldemort had followed them or a Death Eater lurked, waiting to pounce.
“You know I have to follow the rules,” Mr. Weasley replied sternly, “Ministry employees are expected to lead by example. Now what do you hate to eat?”
Ron exchanged a grimace with Hermione. “Corned beef sandwiches,” Ron replied testily. He tried to open the door, but it remained shut, “Dad! You have to let us in now!”
“You have to ask my question,” Mr. Weasley reminded Ron.
Ron rolled his eyes once more at the ineptness of the Ministry’s suggestions. If they managed to survive, he would seriously consider finding out who wrote this drivel and shout at them, “Dad! This isn’t a good time!” His Dad didn’t answer; he looked upwards for a last shred of patience. “How long was his tongue?” He tried to ignore Hermione’s puzzled look even as she remain latched on his arm with her wand ready.
“It was four feet!” Mr. Weasley finally opened the door to their relief. “Sorry, get inside. We weren’t expecting you three quite yet. Of course, we saw you sent ahead a few things…” He frowned when only Ron and Hermione came inside. He peeked outside to look around the front porch. “Where’s Harry? Did he decide to stay at Privet Drive?”
Hermione swallowed hard as her eyes filled again with tears. Almost inaudible sobs escaped her. “Er…” Ron didn’t know a good way to tell his Dad the news. He looked at Hermione for guidance.
Mr. Weasley took another look outside before shutting the door. “Do you think it’s wise to leave him alone?”
“Leave who alone?” Mrs. Weasley entered the room. She stopped in surprise when she saw tears running down both Ron and Hermione’s faces. “Where’s Harry?” She placed her hands on her hips as she looked from one to the other sternly. Hermione could see Ginny peeking from kitchen, Bill and Fleur watched from the couch facing the fireplace while the twins sat in a far corner deep in discussion. With the mention of Harry, everyone stopped and stared at them, waiting for them to answer. Fresh tears started rolling down her face as she tried to gasp for air. “Hermione, what’s wrong? What happened?” Mrs. Weasley grew alarmed as Mr. Weasley watched with growing dismay.
“Harry’s dead,” Hermione barely whispered as she looked over to Ginny, her eyes begging her forgiveness for destroying her hopes and dreams. “Voldemort killed him.” Complete silence followed her simple statement.
Ginny raised her hands to her face as she reeled from the blow. She inhaled silently, her eyes betraying her pain and grief. She breathed out her denial. She stepped backwards, hoping and wishing that it was only a cruel joke. The grief in their eyes denied her even the smallest bit of assurance. Another retreat, hope dashed on the rocks of reality. Visions of living without her Harry assailed her mind. There could be no one else. She had tried but each time they never measured up to him.
“I’m sorry, I must have heard you wrong,” Fred stated almost calmly as he eyed his youngest brother and friend. It was difficult to believe that after so many victories that he had lost. The stories they had heard about his accomplishments. He had saved Ginny, their father and Ron. How could he be gone?
“I thought I heard you say Harry was killed by You-Know-Who,” George finished his brother’s statement as he also watched them. Their thoughts turned to their investor, having given them his Tri-Wizard winnings he didn’t feel he deserved because of Cedric’s death. They had been looking forward to telling him of their new products.
Hermione silently nodded, unable to speak for grief. Instead, Ron answered Fred and George. “There was a Death Eater attack at Privet Drive. It was only Harry, Hermione and me against a bunch of Death Eaters.” Ron could no longer look at anyone - he had failed Harry. The look Harry had given them, knowing he was going to die and there was nothing that either of them could have done to save him.
“How many Death Eaters?” Mr. Weasley asked sharply as Mrs. Weasley and Fleur gasped. Ginny took another step back still wanting even the smallest glimmer of hope that her Harry would return to her.
Ron and Hermione exchanged a look then shrugged. “I don’t know, there were too many to count quickly,” Hermione admitted as she looked away from Ginny’s anguish. Instead, she focused on Mr. Weasley. “There were Death Eaters all over Privet Drive doing who knows what. We were in his room when there were several loud bangs that shook the house.”
“What happened next?” Bill asked. He sat at the edge of the couch, looking more serious than they had seen him look. Ron wondered if he had had this look while trying to break curses in Egypt. Then he lambasted himself for such a thought when his best friend had just been killed.
“We realized what was happening and rushed outside to try to help,” Ron closed his eyes, wishing he could block this memory. “We didn’t get past the door – there were Death Eaters hiding there, waiting for us.”
“There were likely more waiting at the front door also,” George thought out loud, earning a reprimanding look from Mrs. Weasley. Ron and Hermione seemed surprised at the thought.
“And then what happened?” Mr. Weasley asked, watching both of them closely. He would tell Molly to give them the Dreamless Sleep Potion this night. Both looked haunted.
“We were frozen! We couldn’t move! We couldn’t do anything!” Hermione shook her head. Pain rippled across her face as she tried to block her vivid memory.
“I don’t think we were Stunned. We couldn’t move but we had to watch. That was all we could do. You-Know-Who showed up and freed Harry from the spell.” Ron clenched his jaw tightly; he couldn’t speak for a long minute. No one tried to hurry him. “Harry tried to fight, but he was hit by the Killing Curse. The please-men…”
“Policemen, Ron,” Hermione corrected him without thinking. “They showed up with the Medics and the Fire Department. I think that was the only reason Voldemort and the Death Eaters left. They must have thought that the Aurors would have been close behind, if not sooner.” Mrs. Weasley put her arms around Hermione as she sobbed, patting her back. Everyone had paled during their bleak report.
“Zen where is ‘Arry?” Fleur asked, motioning around Ron and Hermione, “I do not see ‘im ‘ere.”
Hermione wept uncontrollably at her question, Ron swallowed hard. “His Aunt Petunia, she freed us of the spell. We went over to him, but we had to leave before the please-men could see us. His Aunt Petunia demanded we leave before the please-men came.”
“You left him there? Why?” Fred frowned, exchanging a puzzled look with George.
“Why didn’t you bring him with you?” George asked.
“There wasn’t time!” Hermione replied in a shrill voice before crying again, burying her head against Mrs. Weasley’s shoulder. Ron looked at her uncomfortably, not knowing what to do. Tentatively, he patted Hermione on her shoulder who threw her arms around him. Slowly he rested his head against hers, delayed tears beginning their downward trek.
They stared at Ron and Hermione in shock. They could not believe that Harry could really be gone – not until they saw him – and even that had been kept from them with how quickly Ron and Hermione had to flee.
Mrs. Weasley was the first to react. Tears began racing down her face as she pulled Ron and Hermione to her. Fleur joined in their tears, Bill pulling her to him. Her tears were for the courageous young man who had saved her sister during the Tri-Wizard Tournament. Bill was at a loss. He knew from his parent’s letters that his family owed a lot to Harry. A fact that was seen more since he had returned to England. Fred and George didn’t react. It was difficult to deny their news since Harry wasn’t at the Burrow, but he also wasn’t at Privet Drive, and they refused to believe he was gone until they saw it for themselves.
Mr. Weasley stood still. He grieved for Harry, but he had to remain focused. Ron and Hermione had brought disturbing news indeed considering that Harry had Top Security placed on him after the previous Minister for Magic had seen Voldemort with his own eyes in the Ministry Atrium and it hadn’t been only previous-Minister Fudge either – it had been numerous Aurors. Why did three teenagers have to face a small-scale battle on their own?
Ginny listened with numbness as Ron and Hermione told everyone what had occurred at Privet Drive. She looked at the others, but found it difficult to focus on their expressions. She tried to ignore the buzzing in her ears. They had to have been mistaken. Harry couldn’t be dead; he was powerful – very powerful. He had already gone through so much and he wasn’t even of-age yet!
Knowing that the attack had extended to all of Privet Drive sickened her. She didn’t want to believe that an attack like this could have happened. She understood what had happened at the Ministry in her fourth year and what happened at the end of last year. That was a battle. People fighting people who had been trained just the same as them, but to attack Muggles? They didn’t know about magic. They didn’t know of the wizarding world in most cases. Why hurt them?
She barely heard Ron and Hermione tell the others what had happened while they were bound tightly, unable to free themselves. Her eyes began glistening as Hermione explained how Harry had stood against Voldemort until the very end.
She suddenly couldn’t stay and listen any longer. She slipped from the kitchen and headed out the back door silently. She headed straight for her spot where a stream ran through the forest. For some reason, it seemed to always calm her down when she was upset and she needed all the help she could get right now.
She threw herself down beside the stream and finally allowed herself to cry. She didn’t want to think about the possibility of Harry being missing or dead, but it kept running cruelly through her mind. What hurt the most was that Harry broke up with her to keep her safe. Harry was being all noble when she could take care of herself. Now she had to finally admit that Harry might have been correct, no matter how her heart hurt.
While she wept, red and gold sparkles appeared around her. They fluttered around her as she cried in sorrow for Harry and for herself. She would never see his emerald eyes again. Never see the sparkle when he caught someone with his very dry wit. Her eyes soon prickled in pain but she couldn’t stop weeping. Her chest felt as if she herself had died. Evening had turned to starry night before her breath began to calm in small, shaky sobs. As her breath slowed, she looked upwards to see Harry standing there one last time, holding his hand out. She reached towards him even as she wondered if he was only her imagination. Slowly, the bright sparkles faded away from existence.
“This way,” Ron whispered to Hermione while everyone else was yelling and shouting at each other. Hermione nodded, she was more than willing to find a quiet place no longer wanting to listen to the arguing or the shouting. Ron led her to a spot behind the house. Hermione was grateful it was silent.
“No one showed up,” Hermione whispered flatly. Her face was pale and her eyes were rimmed in red from crying. “All those Death Eaters and Voldemort and no one showed up!”
Ron’s face was just as pale as Hermione’s. “There had to been a reason,” he grimaced at the look of disbelief etched on Hermione’s face.
“There is not one good reason why they could not have been there!” Hermione shrilled. “I couldn’t even count how many Death Eaters were there!” She poked Ron’s shoulder hard. “Harry had been given Top Security protection by the Ministry and not one of them appeared!”
Ron glanced back at the house worriedly. He was half-afraid that his Mum would hear them and make them come back inside before they had finished talking about what had happened. “Hermione, keep your voice down.”
“Keep my voice down?” Hermione pulled away from him, hurt.
“If you don’t want Mum finding us and prodding us back inside,” He frowned as a dark thought finally occurred to him. He took a deep breath as he looked upwards, “Hermione?”
“What?” She was still upset with him and refused to look at him.
“With Harry dead, who’s going to vanquish You-Know-Who now?” Ron didn’t look at her. He continued looking upwards.
Hermione stared at Ron wordlessly. There hadn’t been time yet to think about their plans. All the plans they had made with Harry. What would his death mean in their fight against Voldemort? Could they even continue? Was it worth continuing to fight, if the only person who could defeat Voldemort was dead? What would the world be like under Voldemort’s reign? But even more than that, how would they fill the hole in their lives? Would they be able to fill that void? They would never hear his voice again. Nor would they ever again berate him for taking unnecessary chances or for not doing his homework. Never hearing his intuitive deductions he could never seem to back up with proof until too late.
The impact of Harry’s death began to occur to her. Her lips quivered an instant before she covered her face with her hands. Her shoulders began shaking harshly as sobs escaped her. Ron cursed when he heard her sobbing. He turned to her, holding her in his arms, letting his own tears join with hers once again for their fallen friend.
I hope you’ve enjoyed reading this chapter.
Thank you very much for your constructive criticism!
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