Chapter 8 : Weasley Hauntings
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There’s no escape
It was the day of the Weasley funerals. Harry had been dreading this day, and was thankful when most of it passed by in a blur. Dumbledore’s funeral had been the first wizard’s funeral Harry had seen, but he knew now there would be plenty of wizard funerals for him to attend. Harry now had no desire to say his good-byes while a whole host of people stood around, dismally wiping at their eyes, and exchanging looks of pity and regret. Harry knew he’d have to say goodbye. He had a lot to say. But he still wanted to savor the denial. Why couldn’t Ron have just been pulling an incredible joke on them, and instead come strutting through the front door of the Burrow yelling, “Fooled you!”
Harry had not seen the bodies at the funeral and hadn’t wanted to. He had seen all of them, with the exception of Percy’s, on the battlefield during their final attack. He still had their faces burned into his memory, the vivid images of their abused and mangled bodies… Harry shuttered at the fresh images. Yes, he had even glimpsed Ron. His freckled face had been smeared with dirt and a bit of blood. His clothing had been ripped, his arm had bled quite extensively, and Harry even remembered the cold feeling of his skin.
He didn’t need to see any bodies to know without a doubt that none of the Weasley brothers were coming back. He longed with all that was in him to have Ron back, giving him a hard time and even bickering with Hermione. Harry wouldn’t even scold them now, if only he could hear their incessant arguing again. In fact, Harry would give anything to trade places with Ron. Harry should have died after defeating Voldemort, and left a happy world behind for Ron and Hermione to enjoy together. What were he and Hermione to do now? They were hardly their proper selves without Ron…
The day sped by as all four brothers were laid to rest together in the small Wizard’s graveyard. Only the magical families in the area knew about the graveyard. It looked like the Muggle ones Harry had seen before, but it was hidden and could only be entered through magic. Harry supposed these graves would be frequented quite often. But for now, the day was ending, and after accepting lots of sympathies and hearing many reminiscent stories, the family finally Disapparated home to the Burrow. Wordlessly, everyone seemed to disappear into their own corner of the Burrow, lost in their own thoughts and sorrow.
Mrs. Weasley had, of course, gone to the kitchen to prepare dinner. Bill and Fleur were going to stay and eat dinner with the family before returning to their own home, and they opted to take a walk about the yard together before dinner. Mr. Weasley disappeared into his own private work room, where he was doubtless tinkering away on some Muggle contraption, allowing him the chance to grieve for his sons privately.
Ginny had withdrawn into Charlie’s old room and shut the door behind her. Meanwhile, George had insisted that he would go out and pick up the missing ingredients for the night’s dinner, despite the fact that it seemed Mrs. Weasley had everything she needed. Harry decided a long shower sounded great and retreated into the hot water’s comfort. Hermione took refuge in a nap until dinner time.
Dinner was subdued and somber, not to mention relatively quiet for a Weasley meal around the table. Harry couldn’t help being reminded of the missing faces as he glanced around; it hardly even seemed like the old Weasley dinner table. After eating and saying farewell to Bill and Fleur, most everyone was ready to return to their own rooms. Ginny and Mrs. Weasley, however, stayed up in the living room, talking as everyone else trickled out of the room. As the only women in the family, Harry wondered if they had a special relationship. He wondered what relationships were like with a mum and dad. He wished his were around to offer their support and guidance. If even Sirius was here… Harry climbed into his bed that night hoping that sleep would give him rest where the wakeful day had not granted it. His hope was in vain.
It was dark all around him, but that was normal. Then, as Harry squinted, the images finally seemed to take shape. He saw red hair. Then he realized he was back on the old battlefield. And there, all around him, were Charlie, Percy, Fred, and Ron. Rather, there were their dead bodies. Their forms were vivid and grotesque. Harry tried to turn away, but all around him, three hundred and sixty degrees, he could only see them, their bodies.
And then, when he tried to run, suddenly, Percy was alive again. But Percy was yelling. At first he sounded like he was conducting first years to their common room, but then Harry realized Percy was yelling at him. He could only make out the words, “kill” and “die.” Harry turned another direction, and there was Fred, alive again, but he was laughing at Harry. His laugh sounded evil and menacing. He kept laughing quite maniacally, “You killed him!”
“No, no, I didn’t!” Harry insisted.
“Killer! You killed him!” Fred’s laughing accusation was louder.
“No I didn’t! I tried to save him!” Harry was screaming. Then, he turned to run from Fred, and there was Ron, alive again. His shaggy red hair was so vivid, even his freckles seemed to be all in place.
“Harry, how could you?” Ron asked, with the most enraged look Harry could remember seeing on Ron’s face.
“How could I what?” Harry asked frantically, his voice sounding very unlike his own.
“How could you let me die? How could you kill me?” Ron was still angry and accusing.
“I didn’t! I tried!”
“You just let me die! After all I did for you! I gave everything to you! I was always second best! Now you’ve killed me, and my whole family!” Ron was yelling at him, standing toe-to-toe with him.
“No, no!” Harry was screaming back. And suddenly, Ron was jerked away from Harry. He watched, helpless, as, ten feet away, Ron now stood staring Voldemort in the face.
“NO!” Harry bellowed, but his whole body seemed cursed, and he was unable to move a muscle. He watched as Cruciatus curse after Cruciatus curse was cast on Ron, and Ron writhed and shook under the pain. All the while, Harry kept yelling, trying to distract Voldemort, to get him to curse Harry instead. And finally, Voldemort had cast the Avada Kedavra curse, and Ron’s body fell limp and lifeless. Voldemort disappeared. Harry’s body was unfrozen and he raced to Ron’s side, falling onto his knees next to the still body.
“Ron! RON!” he yelled. But it was too late; Ron was dead.
“No! No! NO!!!” Harry yelled and screamed over and over. Ron’s vivid, dead face swam before his eyes.
“Harry!” a strange voice bellowed. It sounded like Fred. Was Fred alive again?
“Harry! Wake up, mate!” The voice whispered harshly. Harry opened his eyes, this time looking around in the darkness, but only finding darkness.
“I think you were dreaming. I could hear you yelling all the way in my room,” Fred, or George, or Ron, or someone was grumpily informing him.
“I… what?” Harry still felt confused and couldn’t shake the image of Ron’s face. His heart was pumping, he could feel sweat rolling off his forehead, and he could only focus on how hot his room seemed and how hard it was to breathe.
“Fred?” Harry asked, taking great pains to swallow and force his eyes to focus on something.
“No,” George breathed heavily, “Fred’s gone.” Harry’s world instantly came into focus, and he realized his mistake.
“It was just a dream,” George grunted and then shut the door. Harry listened as George’s feet disappeared down the hallway. A dream. It had just been a dream…
But that thought wasn’t altogether comforting. For the next hour Harry lay awake, haunted by the images and voices from his dream. Every time he tried to close his eyes, he felt utter torture. He wanted to sleep so often, just to escape everything, but his dreams were anything but escape. And tonight had been particularly terrible. He was soaked in sweat and felt hot all over. He had awoken from the nightmare to find he’d not only been yelling, fighting in his sheets, and profusely sweating a very cold, chilled sweat, but he’d also been crying. Neither his body nor his mind would relax. And then he realized why Hermione had come crawling to his room every night since they’d arrived in the Burrow. Somehow, the dreams and sleep were easier to face when you weren’t alone. He did feel very much alone in that room. And Hermione wasn’t there tonight.
The thought didn’t linger on him for long. Desperately desiring sleep, Harry forced himself out of bed, still feeling slightly sticky from sweating and still swiping the occasional leaky tear from his eye. Taking neither pillow nor blanket, Harry quietly crept out of Bill’s room, being careful not to allow the door to creak or to step on the wrong floorboards.
He approached Ginny’s door, on which he would usually knock first, but he decided probably neither girl inside would hear or answer. He turned the knob and let himself in. Ginny seemed sound asleep, her back facing the door, and heavily piled under blankets. Hermione was in the bed on the opposite side of the room. Harry gently shut the door behind himself, taking another peek at Ginny to make sure he hadn’t woken her, and then softly stepped over to Hermione’s bed.
He sat down on the small space next to her torso and peered at her in the darkness. She seemed to be sleeping peacefully tonight from this view. Should he really wake her? Harry gently nudged her, trying to force her sleeping body to move over. He wondered how light a sleeper she was. When he felt like there was enough room for him to lie down, he pulled back the cover of the bed and slid in beside Hermione. His feet brushed hers under the covers, and Hermione stirred. She seemed to sense that he was there, and she opened her eyes, looking around in confusion at first.
“Harry?” she whispered.
“Are you okay?” she asked again, quite sleepily.
“No,” he whispered. He rested his head on her pillow and stared blankly up at the ceiling for a moment. Hermione shifted, still opening and closing her eyes, then turned to face him. Their faces were lit by a blue glow from a small patch of moonlight that was shining through Ginny’s window.
“Were you dreaming?” Hermione asked him.
“Yeah.” They were both whispering as softly as possible, aware that Ginny was sleeping nearby. Hermione was staring into his eyes now.
“What about?” she asked. Harry had held her gaze for a few moments, but now looked away. All the images from his dream flashed rapidly before his eyes. He became lost in the memory of the Weasley brothers, their yelling and laughing, and Ron’s accusations. Then he remembered Voldemort, and his unforgivable curses against Ron. Ron’s face… his torn body…
“Harry?” Hermione’s voice was fearful, and she placed a hand against Harry’s face, gently forcing him to look at her.
“I dreamed about Ron… that it was all my fault, and then Voldemort was killing him-” But Harry’s voice would allow no more and protested with an incredible choking, and he unsuccessfully tried to hold back a few rebellious tears. They slid down from his eyelids, falling into his hair, and onto Hermione’s pillow. Hermione began swiping at a few of the tears with her thumb and held his gaze quite steadily.
“It’s not your fault,” Hermione whispered firmly but soothingly. Harry didn’t want to talk about it or argue the fact. He just wanted to escape. Neither said another word, but Hermione turned onto her side, fully facing Harry, and wrapped her arms around him, hugging him under the blankets. Harry rested his head against hers, and smelled the unobtrusive fresh scent from her hair. Hermione wouldn’t release him, but held him close until they both finally fell back to sleep.
Harry awoke to persistent sunlight shining through the bedroom window. He hadn’t remembered ever waking up to sunlight on his side of the Burrow and wondered for a moment if he had slept till the afternoon. But then his eye caught sight of some pink coloring on the walls, and he was suddenly reminded of creeping down to Ginny’s room in the middle of the night. Harry rolled over to the alarm clock and realized that the sun must have just broken the horizon. It was barely past six a.m.
Casting a glance across the room, he noted that Ginny was still asleep, piled under the blankets, and figured if he was smart, he’d make a quick exit so as to avoid any more discussions or any new rows. Harry extricated his arm from Hermione, careful not to wake her, and slid out from under her covers. For a moment it struck Harry how beautiful she was, even at six in the morning, before she was fixed up for the day. But she’d always been cute, and even a bit beautiful as she’d gotten older. Harry forced the thought from his mind, intent on sneaking out of the room unnoticed.
He did, in fact, manage to sneak out of the room, unnoticed by those inside, but that was all the success he could claim.
“You’re awake early this morning,” Mrs. Weasley stated in the sleepiest voice Harry had ever known her to possess. She must have just woken up.
“Uh… I think I might try and sleep some more,” Harry answered feebly.
“Been in the girls’ room? Are they awake already too?” she asked in a voice that Harry couldn’t deduce. He thought it sounded like she was asking a normal, innocent, every-day kind of question.
“Er… no. I mean, they’re not awake yet.” Harry wasn’t exactly sure what Mrs. Weasley would think of he and Hermione sneaking off to each other’s beds.
“Ahh…” Mrs. Weasley mused. “Well, don’t worry, dear. I know.” She smiled tiredly at him, and then shuffled past him on her way to the stairs. Harry reached the door to Bill’s room and thought he would have a go at sleeping in a little later. He wasn’t quite ready to face another day yet.
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