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Chapter 14 : The Tears We Shed
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Yet I do own Troy Malfoy. What an understatement, huh?
AND NOW! On with the story...
The Tears We Shed
"Hey, we have Transfiguration Harry," Ron informed his best friend as the raven-haired boy abruptly took a different direction by the stairwell. Harry shifted awkwardly on the steps.
"Yeah, I know. But I, erm… well, Professor Dumbledore needs to see me," Harry said quickly, not meeting Ron's eyes.
Harry felt terrible about not telling Ron about his abnormal dreams, or the almost helpful vision he had. Ron's suspicious look hardened to ice, knowing that Harry was telling him to sod off, before turning away and leaving for Transfiguration.
Ron knew something had gone awry with Harry; he wasn’t a complete fool. He turned and watched Harry quickly maneuver his way down the opposite end of the corridor, heading for the Headmaster's office through the throng of bustling students.
Did Harry know something, and was he informing Dumbledore about it? And could it be about Hermione? Ron narrowed his eyes, his mouth twitching with anger; of course it was about Hermione, why else would Dumbledore want to see Harry?
Ron grumbled under his breath and walked in the midst of the other Gryffindors, locating a seat and falling into it. Was there a reason why he, who was much busier worrying about Hermione than anyone else, wasn’t invited to speak privately? Ron had proven himself trustworthy many-a-time, and although Harry received special treatment all the time, this was different.
Transfiguration went by horribly slow. Ron sat there, doodling on his paper, ruminating the possible subjects the Headmaster would discuss.
But his thoughts strayed back to Hermione, back to the fateful night that he was terribly ashamed of; he had left Hermione because he wanted more from her, something she wasn’t willing to give up yet.
Ron put his head in his arms and pressed his forehead to the table, completely tuning out McGonagall. If Ron had given it a thought, he would've guessed that she was giving another lecture about N.E.W.T.s; he wasn't sure, and frankly, he didn't care. Towards the end of Transfiguration, while Ron was still halfway asleep on his desk, the door opened slowly. McGonagall's lecture ceased immediately, and she looked towards the source of the interruption.
"It's all right Potter, the Headmaster has already informed me. Sit down," McGonagall clipped. It wasn't until Ron heard the chair next to him move aside that he understood that Harry was sitting next to him.
Cautiously raising his head, Ron registered the fact that Harry's ashen face was not scared, but distant. He seemed absorbed in some fathomless thought, so deeply entwined he barely noticed Ron staring at him.
By the end of class, Harry hadn't uttered a single syllable, and Ron decided to do something about it. "Well?" Ron blurted finally. Harry twitched, flinched, and finally gave Ron an apologetic half-smile.
"Sorry," Harry mumbled, and kept walking. Ron, unsatisfied, glowered at the side of his face.
"So what happened with Dumbledore?" spilled out of Ron's mouth before he could stop himself. Harry swallowed nervously, his mouth as dry as parchment.
"We just talked…" Harry croaked, his voice raspy. Ron sensed that Harry wasn't about to admit willingly what had been discussed in the Head Office.
"About Hermione," Ron stated quietly, finishing Harry’s sentence. Harry shot him an uneasy look before returning his gaze to the ground. He gave a jerky nod, and Ron let out a quiet breath that noticeably contained repressed anger.
"He told me things…" Harry started, drowning himself in thought again, isolating Ron from the conversation.
"Like what kind of stuff?" Ron inquired hastily, before Harry shut down again.
"About… about… about her. That… that her parents… they're… " Harry broke off in a weird kind of whisper, he sounded as if the words were hurting but confusing him as if he still couldn’t grasp their concept.
"They're what?" Ron demanded, his eyes wide. Harry gave him a guilty, frightened look, and the fear in his vivid green eyes said everything.
"Dead?" It took all Harry's energy to nod; Ron's pulse picked up suddenly at the image of his parents suddenly dead as they walked wordlessly to Potions and as Ron slowly digested the new fact.
The silence between the two boys went unnoticed, each wrapped up in their demanding thoughts. Ron, after inhaling deeply several times and clenching his whole body, trying to make himself feel, spoke.
"Who?" Ron asked, his brain gradually starting to function. "Who did it?"
"The Order thinks it was the Death Eaters," Harry replied quietly. Ron's jaw twitched, and he clenched his teeth. "But they still aren't sure. But… Dumbledore thinks it, so it has got to be right."
"Harry, Dumbledore isn't always right," Ron snarled, a vicious tone to his sudden flare of anger. He didn't want to believe Dumbledore, because if Hermione's parents were dead, then Hermione's life would be destroyed, and Ron wouldn’t know what to do.
"He's right," Harry repeated heavily, and Ron glowered.
"How do you know he is?" Ron demanded with a bit of sneer. Harry inhaled loudly and let out a shaky sigh.
"Just because. There's evidence, OK? They think it, and they're right," Harry responded gloomily.
"You said Dumbledore thought it, and they weren't sure. What this about evidence if they don't know?" Ron snapped. Harry closed his eyes, muttering mutely to himself. He took a deep breath.
"You know this morning, when you woke me up?" Harry said in a rush. Ron nodded, and watched him suspiciously. "I-I was having a bad dream Ron. A really, really bad dream. It turns out… that the dream, it was more than that."
Harry kept his eyes firmly on the floor, grasping his schoolbag tightly. Ron looked at him, glaring, the anger bubbling inside of him quickly, like steam screaming shrilling as it escaped its confinement.
"More than just a dream," Ron repeated in a furious whisper. "It had You-Know-Who in it then… So it was real." Ron drew a shaky breath determined not to lose his temper though he was close to it. "And why didn't you tell me?" His voice wavered as he spoke.
"Err… Ron, I'm really sorry, but I just—" Harry started, but Ron cut him off with a scathing scoff.
"Oh please, Harry, whatever excuse you have is shit. Why didn't you tell me?" Ron demanded again, suddenly becoming more serious, more menacing than Harry had ever seen him. Harry remained silent but his pace quickened faintly as they traveled closer to the dungeons.
"I felt like I needed to deal with it alone," Harry murmured, though very, very quietly, and Ron barely heard him. But then, as the youngest male Weasley poured over Harry's quiet words, he fell back and halted, feet rooted to the ground as if encased in cement.
"OF ALL PEOPLE, HARRY! YOU WEREN'T THE ONE WHO WAS THERE! I WAS THE LAST PERSON TO SEE HER! IF ANYONE, I SHOULD BE DEALING WITH THIS! NOT YOU!" he screamed, his bellow so incredibly loud nearby people ducked as if a bomb had exploded, searching for the source of the noise.
Harry kept walking, clutching his book bag so tightly his knuckles turned white. He kept going but Ron would have none of it; the Weasley seized his arm and shoved him against the wall.
"SHE WAS MY BLOODY GIRLFRIEND, HARRY!" Ron bellowed, and whatever whispers of frightened curiosity abruptly died.
"YOU DITCHED HER FOR PARAVTI!" Harry roared back at once, shoving Ron away. Ron, livid and seething to the point that he couldn’t speak, glared as Harry threw a sad, regretful look at him and walked away.
Ron stood dumbfounded where Harry had left him, the color slowly rising in his face. The class was whispering animatedly, Slytherins were snickering; no one had known about “The Breakup” except for the Gryffindors, but it wasn’t that way anymore.
The two boys, who had always been best of friends, brothers, and only fought for a short while on occasion, separated and refused to speak to one another. It was exciting news for the school, but not nearly as discussed as Hermione Granger. However, it was apparent to all students that she was the reason the Trio had broken.
Neither of them had a very good day without their counterparts, though. Snickers, hissing, and hushed gossip followed them both everywhere. Ron was positively furious, both with Harry and with himself; his best mate —his brother for Merlin's sake! — had betrayed him. Not only that, but if there had been any hope at all for Ron about being privy to Dumbledore's information, it was gone now.
Harry, however, was not as severely affected by the rumors and by the fight as Ron was. No; Hermione, the perpetual worry in his mind had augmented to an entirely new level. Harry had tried to resist the gentle probing of the headmaster, but he cracked and had spilled everything to the old, wise man, concealing only the most recent dream that Ron had recently learned of. Why he held it in, he didn't know, but he felt as if he needed something that only he knew, that only he could explain.
Harry felt guilty however, the enormous pressure of keeping it all a secret, holding it inside like a ball of flame that fueled not him, but the War. The desire to keep it away was an influence from Voldemort, Dumbledore explained, and the feeling that the weight of the world, crushing and enormous, was still on Harry's shoulders was very natural. Something like Survivor's Guilt, Harry surmised afterwards.
Dumbledore had presented Harry with something special: a secret he could not share with anyone, not now. Harry was not forbidden, but the mere concept of it was just so mind-boggling that he still did not comprehend.
Something was going to happen, and Hermione would be a victim. Dumbledore explained how Tonks had seen the energy levels rise, how rare and astounding it was to see it in a millennium, less much a lifespan, and it provoked Harry's grim thoughts even more. The stunning news about Hermione, in addition to everything that Dumbledore had told him about the meeting, confirmed that was very wrong indeed.
That night, after everyone had gone to bed, Harry sat on the couch, gazing into the throbbing coals, shining vainly in the fire as they slowly died. He was so lost within himself, so consumed by the fear of Hermione's possible death. What was so essential about Hermione, so crucially necessary that she would actually be kidnapped? She was a talented witch; there wasn't a doubt. But, to put it simply, she was Muggle-born, a Mudblood, hated by Voldemort and purebloods alike.
So why was she gone?
Harry propped his head in his hands, rubbing the weariness in his eyes and ignoring the strain in his back. It was his fault, all his fault; he had only given a fraction of information to Ron about the dreams, he had neglected telling Dumbledore until now, and he had kept it to himself for far too long.
True, it wasn't his fault she had been kidnapped, but it was his fault that she hadn't been found yet. He choked down the sudden wave of tormenting emotions, clenching his face and hair, dropping his head into his hands, and quelled the urge to sob. If he had said something, anything to someone, she'd be here. They'd be laughing, and Ron and Hermione would be happy. But no, instead he had to be a selfish bastard and keep it all to himself. It if wasn't for him, then—
Harry hastily wiped his cheeks free of tears with his sleeve and turned around as innocently as he could. Ginny stood uncertainly behind the couch, and she looked worried. She was wearing a dark crimson robe and her long mane of red hair glowed in the firelight.
"Are you alright?" she asked softly, moving around the sofa and sitting down next to him.
"No, not really," he muttered, his voice thick with suppressed emotions. He let his head fall into his hands again. "It's my entire fault she's gone," he moaned through his hands, and she put a hand on his shoulder to placate him.
"Don't say that, Harry, it isn't," she soothed. He let out a bitter scoff.
"But it is my fault, Ginny! If I had told someone, anyone, she'd be here! And I knew and I didn't say anything!" He found himself nearly screaming at Ginny, who seemed almost motherly at the moment, looking very concerned in the flickering firelight.
"What did you know, Harry?" Ginny asked tentatively. He glanced up with a desperate look, trying to see if she was being sincere or not, and slumped over, his head between his knees. She put an arm around him, trying to comfort him.
"I just knew," he mumbled.
His body was shaking with silent sobs again, and she pulled him upright and embraced him tightly, squeezing him to her as he shook. He buried his head into her shoulder, trying not to let himself cry, but he just couldn't stop it. Hermione… she was gone, it was entirely his fault… all his fault…
"Harry," Ginny whispered, "It's all right. Calm down." She ran her hands over his back reassuringly. Harry latched onto her as if she were the only source of peace and hope he had seen that had a chance of convincing him that everything will actually be all right.
"It's not all right, Ginny!" Harry moaned as his voice broke, his head still on her shoulder. "She's gone and I could've done something about it!"
Harry began ranting on, spilling his feelings and sobbing into Ginny's shoulder. It felt good to just let it all out, but he felt weak, even weaker than he had before. It wasn't like him at all, but he found himself content in Ginny's arms; she was making soothing shushing noises, rubbing his back tenderly.
A tear fell onto his shoulder, and he realized she was crying. She gripped him, clutching him more closely now, and pressed into his neck, her tears sliding over his skin.
"It isn't your fault, Harry. It isn't your fault…" she kept saying, her voice progressively dying. He could hear her voice breaking, and soon enough, she was sobbing too. She kept saying it over and over, trying to make it true, but her tears forced her to accept that it was just a lie.
"I miss her so much, Harry," she whispered, tears forming again, pulling away from him at last. He gave her a half-smile, just as sad as she was, and wiped the tears off of her cheeks with the back of his hand.
"We all do, Ginny, we all do," he whispered, taking her back into a soothing embrace.
"I knew Hermione was special, but not like this. I-I never imagined she'd be kidnapped for it," Ginny voiced through sniffling. Harry nodded, running a hand over her head and pulling her closer.
He wanted someone, something, to hold onto. Ron had abandoned him; Harry could bet that Ron thought Harry was a traitor by now, he wouldn't put it past him. But even so, if Ron was still his best mate he couldn’t just break down in his arms and expect to be held like Ginny was holding him now.
"There's always been something special about Hermione, but only she truly knew what it was, Harry. I think… I think that whatever it was, that's why she's gone," Ginny predicted quietly. Harry pulled her closer, and she continued.
They sat there in silence, the only noise made from the crackling of the sighing fire, dying slowly. Something stirred deep within Harry's mind, something he couldn’t quite place, and without thinking about it he buried his face in Ginny's neck and let out a tense sigh, releasing all the fear he had buried deep inside him.
She pulled away from him slightly, though he still had his arms around her. "Thanks, Harry," Ginny said quietly.
"What for?" he asked obliviously, holding her back. He blinked, looking curiously at her.
"Just… just for caring. Ron… Ron loved Hermione, but he didn't know her like you and I. And from what I heard from Lavender about you and Ron screaming at each other today before Potions, then her kidnap has hurt you as much as me, if not worse. Ron lost his love, Harry, but you and me? We lost a sister," Ginny mused wisely, but the grief in her voice was evident.
Harry found no response for her statement except the indescribable, unexpected flare of passion that he had for the girl that he was holding. She knew what he was going through; she knew how he felt, on a level closer than anyone else did… it was incredible. Ginny, just sitting there, the youngest sister of his best mate that he had rowed with, knew exactly how he felt. His feelings were jumbled up, and he didn't have any idea what to do. All he could understand was that Ginny Weasley, with tear stains down her cheeks, had experienced the emotional pain he had.
He felt like he loved her. Slowly, he leaned forward and kissed her on the mouth.
Ginny looked surprised, but pleased, when he pulled back after a long, fluid moment. He wasn't exactly sure of what he had done, but he knew, somewhere, in the back of his mind, that he no longer felt the same way about Ginny…
"Goodnight Harry," Ginny said softly. She smiled shyly at him before pulling completely away from him, and seemed to float up the dormitory stairs to bed. Harry stared after her, a faint smile on his lips, lost in a fantasy that could be feasible.
And for a split second, Hermione Granger was utterly forgotten.
Author's Notes: Okay, that's out of the way. I hope you all enjoyed it, and be assured that longer chapters are coming!
Ok, so sorry you guys for the hold up. But this chapter is long enough, eh? So, hope ALL of you read the reviews and the answers to the reviews 'cause it'll do you some help.
A huge round of applause to A Roses Innocence for betaing this for me! Luuurve you!
So read and review guys!
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