Summer came and went, leaving the middle of August in its midst. Harry was feeling slightly better, and more settled into the new day-to-day routine he maintained. Although, as he lay in bed at night, he never slept. His eyes never closed, his brain haunted by his past. But somehow, being by his friends even after everything brought a new light of meaning to his life, a new sunlight to his days.
Hermione had decided to leave for Australia for a couple weeks to fix her parents memories and bring them back to England. Harry felt slightly empty, like a piece of his life was missing with her gone. Harry didn’t know what he would do if he lost Ron and Hermione. They were the people that kept him right-minded and down to Earth.
The faint hoot of an owl caused quite a commotion one morning. The smell of bacon and eggs wafted up the rickety staircases of the Burrow, and Mr. Weasleys voice echoed off the wall.
“Letters! The letters are here!”
The sound of thumping and doors slamming was heard throughout the house. Ginny yelled up to the next floor, where George slept.
“Letters have come!” She then bounded down the stairs eager to know what her status in Hogwarts this year would be like.
George woke up groggily to this news, and then leaned out his door to call up to Harry and Ron.
“Ron! Harry! Dad told Ginny to tell me to tell you that the letters are here. Good night to you!” Closing his door, silence was heard among the house.
“Did you hear that? Ron?” Harry paused, put on his glasses and glanced at his friend’s bed. “Ron?” He threw back his covers and scanned the room. No Ron. Grabbing a change of clothes and throwing them on, Harry peered out the window.
There, sitting in the back yard, was Ron. He was gazing out into nothingness, swinging his legs back and forth on the bench like a five year old.
“What’s he doing?” Harry muttered to himself.
Harry bounded down the stairs and into the kitchen, towards the back door.
“I’ll be right back.” He reassured Mrs. Weasley and Ginny, who were helping out with breakfast.
Ron looked up when Harry approached him.
“You okay, mate?”
“Yeah, I guess.”
“What’s going on?” Harry asked.
“I - nothing.” Ron lied.
“You’ve never been good at lying, Ron.” Harry sat down next to Ron. “What’s troubling you?”
“Hermione.” Ron finally gave in.
“What about her?” Harry asked.
“When she comes back, I’m going to tell her. I’m going to tell her that I love her.” Harry winced at his words. He felt like Ron had just taken a knife and sliced through his heart.
“Oh – well – ok.” Harry said, in defeat. He slowly stood up and walked back to the house, passing by Mrs. Weasley and Ginny as entered back in.
“Breakfast, Harry! Breakfast! Come dear!” Mrs. Weasley insisted.
“No, Mrs. Weasley, I’m fine, really. I just- I’m not really hungry.” Harry headed towards the stairs.
“Harry –” Harry turned around at these words. For Mrs. Weasley hadn’t spoken them. Ginny was looking at him intently, sensing something was wrong. Terribly wrong.
Ginny had grabbed Harry by his elbow and dragged him into the living room.
“Sit.” She pointed demandingly at the ragged couch. Seeing the look in her eyes, he sat right away.
“Okay, I know we haven’t really been speaking lately, because of all that happened. It’s my entire fault. I didn’t take any interest in your well being. And yes, I think you’re right. I had mistaken a school crush for love. I’m sorry. I was completely selfish.” She paused to take a breath.
“Ginny, its okay. We all make mistakes, but what you did was really mean. And because of that, I don’t think things will really work out…” Harry voice faded away as Ginny started to talk again.
“Harry, I didn’t bring you here just for that. It’s about Ron. What’s up with him? What did he tell you?”
Harry sighed. “I don’t think he would like me telling you about that, Ginny. I’m sorry. And I don’t really feel like talking about it myself.”
“It’s about Hermione, isn’t it?”
Harry nodded solemnly. Ginny caught the look of pain reflected in Harry’s eyes as he looked up at her.
“He’s going to tell her how he feels isn’t he?” Ginny asked forcefully.
Harry didn’t respond.
“You-you don’t…you don’t like her, do you?” Ginny struggled out.
Harry shook his head.
“You don’t? Because that would explain a lot of things.”
“Ginny, look, I would love to sit here and tell you how I feel and everything, but I’m really not in the mood.” Harry stood up and briskly walked up the stairs to the room he shared temporarily with Ron.
Harry lay on his camp bed, staring out the window. He watched the clouds slowly moving, the early afternoon sun shining through them. The sky was clear blue, crystalline almost. It was a gorgeous day for flying. But that was not what he wanted to do. He wanted to stay locked up in this bedroom for a long while.
He knew it was true what he told Ginny. He didn’t like Hermione. He loved her. He would never be able to tell anyone that, especially Hermione. Harry knew Ron didn’t understand what he was going through. Ron would never understand. Those three words, I love you, meant the most to Harry. He could never remember anyone every saying them to him, either.
Ron, well, he had over seven people saying that to him everyday. But, Harry, not once. He felt alone in that area; deprived of having a loving family, people that care about you. Harry, Ron and Hermione, sure, they all loved each other, but Harry wanted pure love, the love you get from parents, or family.
Harry didn’t know what he would do. Ron would tell Hermione how he feels. Hermione would most likely feel the same way. Where does that leave Harry? As the third wheel, the spare tire, The-Boy-Who-Lived-Twice-And-Was-Thrown-Away-By-His-Friends.
He only had one thing keeping him happy; the possibility of retrieving Sirius from non-existence.
Harry had not wanted to seclude himself in Ron’s bedroom again; that would worry everyone else too much. After that eventful morning, Harry had returned downstairs for lunch, and then spent the rest of the day playing exploding snap with Ron, and having vibrant discussions about George’s new product ideas. But inside, Harry wasn’t the same.
Harry had totally forgotten about his Hogwarts letter. Ron had noticed that Harry hadn’t opened his yet, and decided to wait. Hermione would probably want everyone to open their letters together.
Ginny, totally excited, had opened hers right after her little chat with Harry.
“I’m Head Girl!” she had squealed. This came as a surprise to all, for Ginny had never been a prefect. Mr. Weasley guessed that Professor McGonagall had her reasons though. Mrs. Weasley was overjoyed, and planned a special dinner for when Hermione returned, so the trio could open their letters together and they could celebrate Ginny becoming Head Girl.
George and Charlie left just after supper; George had to get back to the shop, and Charlie was needed in Romania. He never took incidents with dragons lightly.
After dinner, Ron and Harry sat down to talk about their plans for Hogwarts this year.
“Well, we’re not going to miss any school time, really. The hard part will just be to get Sirius and the prophecy out of the veil.” Ron said.
“This is going to be really dangerous, Ron. More so than anything else we’ve ever done. Sure, the war and everything, that was terrible, but this, this is different. We’re bringing someone back from the dead, and we are traveling into non-existence to retrieve my prophecy. We’ll have to stick together.” Harry reasoned.
“Er- Harry, are you okay with everything? You know, with what happened this morning?” Ron asked tentatively. He knew something was bothering Harry.
Harry looked away. “Yeah. I’m fine, okay?” Harry snapped, before he briskly walked away. Harry stopped in tracks and slowly turned back around to face Ron. Ron had a strange expression on his face. He looked a little confused. Harry walked back and sat down next to Ron on the couch in the Burrow.
“Ron- I think we need to talk about some things.”
“Yeah- what’s bugging you…” Ron was cut off by Harry.
“No. I want you to answer my question first.” Harry paused. “I’ve known you for eight years now. I can tell when you’re lying. Where did you go after you left me and Hermione in the tent to find the Horcruxes by ourselves? Answer me truthfully. Because I know you weren’t being completely truthful when you first came back.” Harry sat back in his chair and waited for a reply.
“Come on, Ron. Tell me!” Harry urged on.
“Fine. You know what, I’ll admit it. I wasn’t always at Shell Cottage. Well, you know how the Lovegood’s don’t live so far from my house?”
“You were with LUNA?!” Harry exclaimed.
“Er-yeah-I guess you could say that. I kind of ran into her once I Apparated back to the Burrow and she invited me to her house for some tea. I ended up spending that first week with her. So, we became pretty close. I mean-I know she’s barking mad and all, but really, she’s nice company.” Ron stopped talking as soon as he saw Harry’s face. Harry’s mouth was gaping, and he looked shocked.
“You-you lied to us! You left me and Hermione to struggle for survival while you-you went off to have tea with Luna?” Ron nodded solemnly.
“Thanks. Thanks a lot Ron.” Harry sat back in his chair and crossed his arms.
“Harry- I’m sorry-I just…I just can’t handle stuff the way you and Hermione can.” Ron mumbled.
“Obviously.” Harry muttered. “You know what, never mind, there’ll be time for this later.” Harry made to stand up before Ron pushed him back down in his seat.
“Oh no you don’t. I still haven’t asked you my question. What’s going on?”
“Harry, don’t do this to yourself. I know something’s up. Just like you knew I was lying.” Ron demanded.
“Ron, this is something I don’t feel ready to talk to you about, okay?” Harry said quietly. He stood up and walked away, and this time, Ron didn’t call him back.
“Luna? Luna Lovegood?” Ron jumped. Hermione stood in the doorway of the living room. “How could you?” She whispered. Hermione turned and walked back out of the room.
“Hermione? You’re back already? What?” Ron asked, completely confused.
“Yes, I’m back Ronald.” Hermione didn’t even turn around, she just kept walking. Ron jumped up to follow after her.
“Stop asking questions. Save them for Luna, I’m sure she’ll love to hear them.” Ron heard a door open. Mrs. Weasley walked in from yard.
“Hermione, dear! It’s so good to see you! I’m glad you made it back alright. Are you hungry? How are your parents?” As Hermione was showered with questions, Ron stood back in doorway, surveying the moonlit lawn through the window.
“What have I done?” he whispered under his breath.
Harry softly tip-toed down the stairs. Trying not to wake anyone, he crept into the living room and collapsed on the worn and tattered couch. He sighed as he ran his hands through his hair.
“Hello, Harry.” Harry heard a gentle voice murmur through the silence.
“Hermione? When did you get back?” Harry asked, surprised.
“Earlier this evening.”
“Why are you sitting down here all alone?” Harry asked.
“No reason, really. Just to think. What’s troubling you?” Harry didn’t respond at first, he let his thoughts mingle in tense, thick air. It was dark, Harry could barely see Hermione’s figure silhouetted in hazy glow that the moon provided. She stood with her arms crossed, her back to him. She was gazing out at the sky, her now soft curls the only part of her head that Harry could see.
“I don’t know.” Harry said in slight desperation. Hermione turned around at this. She saw the confusion reflected in Harry’s eyes.
“Care to share? Maybe I can help.” She offered.
“I wish you could.” Harry muttered. “Hermione, getting my prophecy and Sirius back is going to be really hard. I know what happened between you and Ron this evening. I just want things to go horribly wrong. I want us to stay as a team, as The Trio, so we come out alive. I-I don’t want to lose someone. Not again.” Harry looked near tears.
“Harry- wait. Are you sure you want to go through with this?”
Harry nodded. “This means so much to me. Sirius means the world to me. He’s-he’s like the dad I never had.”
“Harry, I’ll help you. Ron and I will help you. During the airplane rides to and from Australia, I did a lot of reading.” Harry managed a small smile at this. Hermione never changes. “I know what we need to learn next.”
“How to see with your eye’s closed.” She stated simply. Harry saw this as a stroke of brilliance.
“So, that way, we actually can see, without the veil blinding us!”
“Yes, that’s the basic concept.”
“Hermione, you’re amazing. I would have been dead long before we defeated Voldemort if I didn’t know you.”
Hermione looked away from Harry.
“Yeah?” She turned around.
“No problem.” Hermione said quietly, before she advanced up the stairs, leaving Harry on the couch to contemplate all that had occurred. Tomorrow, things would be different. Much different.
A/N: Hope you liked this chapter! Please, please, please leave a review!!!!!! It makes me soooooo happy to get feedback!! Until next chapter,
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