Chapter 11 : Time for a Change
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Like it or not, it’s time to move on
Harry awoke the next morning to a brightly-lit room. A glance at his clock revealed that it was nearly lunch time already. And then, rushing back to his mind, was the memory that Hermione had joined him in his bed last night, as was their habit in the last few weeks. But it had been anything but normal this time. With a glance around this room, Harry realized that Hermione must have already woken and left his room.
He lay in bed for a few moments, staring at the ceiling and wondering what, if anything, would happen today. Would they talk about it? Of course they would; this was Hermione. But what would he say? Had it meant anything? He had enjoyed it, but… But what about Ron? Ron… Harry shook his head, rolled his eyes, and forced himself out of bed. Sometimes it was easier just to ignore things.
Once Harry cleaned up and headed downstairs, he remembered that he’d been looking forward to today because he’d get a chance to talk to Lupin. Sure enough, downstairs he was met with the voices of the remaining Order members. Harry greeted them all and insisted to Mrs. Weasley that he would wait for lunch and she really needn’t fix him something to eat, because they would all be eating together soon anyway. Harry fell into a seat in the living room, listening to the present conversation. He caught a glimpse of Hermione, in the kitchen, drinking some pumpkin juice. He smiled to her, and she smiled back. But her expression remained mostly unreadable for Harry.
“Well, I really think I ought to start making lunch! Everyone must be starving! You just keep right on visiting; I’ll only be a call away, in the kitchen!” Mrs. Weasley finally excused herself. Hermione had remained in the kitchen and decided to help Mrs. Weasley with the cooking. Mad Eye Moody and Mr. Weasley began a discussion which didn’t really interest Harry, and Lupin seemed to be flipping through some papers from his bag.
“Professor Lupin, do you think we could talk?” Harry leaned over and asked him. He felt silly for a moment, deliberating over what to call Lupin. In Harry’s mind, he was always just, ‘Lupin,’ but to call him that in person just felt a bit disrespectful. After all, he used to be Harry’s professor. Lupin had suggested that Harry need not call him “Professor” but could call him Remus instead. Yet that seemed too personal and presumptuous; Harry was nowhere near to being Lupin’s peer. So Harry still found himself addressing Lupin as “Professor,” because it seemed to be the only fitting name for a man he respected so much. Perhaps Moony…
Harry shook himself out of his ponderings and saw Lupin looking up with an expression of mild surprise.
“Sure, Harry,” he replied, stuffing his papers into his bag.
“Do you think we could go outside?” Harry nodded toward the back door of the Burrow. Lupin nodded, and soon the two were walking about beyond the garden, deep in conversation about the opportunity in Norway. Lupin gave Harry all the details he had and assured Harry that he really thought this was a great choice, and he was very glad that Harry was finally thinking about life after the war. Lupin said he felt Harry was finally moving on a bit. Harry knew there was no insensitivity in his voicing this, because they’d all suffered great losses and were all trying to move on.
“How soon do you think I could go?” Harry asked.
“Eager to leave?” Lupin raised his eyebrows.
“Well, I-” Harry began, but Lupin interrupted him.
“You don’t need to explain to me,” he chuckled. It was good to hear a small laugh from Lupin again.
“I understand, Harry. Anyway, I think they’ve already started meeting and discussing curriculum development, and they’ve got a month before they have to present their initial work to the founder, so they could probably use you as soon as possible. They’ve got a lot of planning to finish in one short month. They keep asking whether we’ve found anyone to help them yet. Can I tell them you’ll come?”
“Yeah, tell them I’ll come. How about I join them on Monday?” Harry wondered if this sounded a bit too soon or if he sounded a bit too eager.
“Monday? Today’s Friday… That leaves you only three more days with the Weasleys. You know you’ll be busy and won’t be able to come back for some time?” Lupin seemed uncertain about Harry’s rushed decision.
“I know, but I’ve been thinking about it for awhile now. And I really think it’ll be easier on the Weasleys if I’m out on my own… And I guess I think it’ll help me a bit too.” Harry realized his voice was sounding glum now and thought he should try to fix that.
“What about Hermione?” Lupin inquired seriously. Harry stared at him for a moment. What about Hermione? She couldn’t come with him, could she? And even if she could, would it really help either of them?
If Harry was honest with himself, he loved Hermione. But he had always loved Hermione; she was one of his best friends. But this thought caused an odd fluttering in his stomach. He couldn’t help feeling more than a little confused in the recent days. Ever since the battle had ended he had been left with only one best mate, and he and Hermione had been spending even more time together than normal, which he had never before thought possible, considering his, Ron, and Hermione’s inseparable-ness.
But he had never before even imagined a day when he couldn’t sleep without her in his bed, and it seemed strange, upon stepping back and looking at the situation, that this was his reality. The thought sent his mind racing off in what seemed like a million different directions. They were just friends, and yet sometimes… sometimes his mind would wander before he could stop it.
Harry had always known that Hermione and Ron belonged together, but now Ron was gone. What would Hermione do without him? Harry didn’t even know what he would do without Ron, but nonetheless, he doubted Hermione would grow into a single old maid and live alone for the rest of her life. At some point she would heal and move on, and where would that leave Harry? After spending the last month being so close to her – crying with her, sitting silently with her, comforting each other night after night and warding off the nightmares together – how would it make him feel to imagine her married, with a family, sleeping in some other bloke’s bed? Harry was surprised at the thoughts and the feelings. He forced them away, more confused than ever.
She was his best mate; he needed her in his life, yet he would be moving to Norway and breaking the bond that had kept him sane for the last month. He felt stupid, but he felt that it was right. Yet he couldn’t help wondering how this decision could change his life. Could he be certain he would ever see her again? He wanted, quite desperately, in fact, to keep her in his life, but he felt like he really needed to leave this place. He was useless as he was. He couldn’t continue on with the kind of life, or whatever you would call it, that he had now. Somehow, he needed to put himself back together.
Yet he dearly loved her friendship and couldn’t help worrying. He desired above all else, that taking this job with the Teaching Society, so far away, would not end the best friendship he still had left in his life. But before his mind raced off in another inevitable direction regarding his ginger haired best mate, his wandering eyes glanced across a standing form in front of him. Lupin was still staring at Harry and waiting for a response.
“It’s probably better for her that I go,” Harry said quietly. “We’ve both got a lot to deal with, and we both need to move on. And I don't know that I’m helping her.”
“Harry, you may be right. But can I offer you a bit of advice?” Lupin asked gently.
“Yeah.” Harry nodded, looking expectantly at Lupin.
“You’ve both somehow managed to survive the greatest war of our time. Just remember that we’re not promised tomorrow. Don’t have regrets, Harry. Maybe I’m being presumptuous, but I know you two are much closer than you were before, that you’re relying on each other to get through this. I know it’s hard, and you’ve lost Ron. But if you love each other… well, it’s okay,” Lupin said firmly. “It’s really okay. Just… do what you have to do, Harry. But don’t forget about her.” Harry nodded, not sure what to say. Love each other?
And Harry certainly couldn’t forget about her; she was now his one and only best friend in the world. ‘Then why am I leaving her?’ he thought. But he had to. He had to. He hoped Hermione would understand.
Author's Note: This chapter was grammar beta-ed by KML.
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