a/n: This is a missing moment I though of the other day while reading GoF. All characters and plot belong to J.K Rowling, whom I am not.
I walked down the long spiraling stair case, worry in my heart. No one had done much but worry since that night, the others doubted. Ignoring the stares of the other girls in my dorm, I drifted out into the common room, hoping to see the boy I was looking for.
He wasn’t there.
A million thoughts filled my head at once. How long could he sit there quietly, not talking to anyone? Surely one should have to talk about it, get it off their chest. But I also knew he was too proud for that, choosing to suffer in silence rather than make it apparent that he was really suffering. Almost crying out in frustration, I turned to sink into the couch when I saw a tall, lanky boy with red hair and freckles sitting into front of the fire place. His head was resting in his hands, covering his eyes completely and making it impossible to know what he was thinking.
“Ron?” I asked slowly, walking towards him. The red head looked up and answered my silent question with a small shake of his head.
“He’s sleeping,” Ron said, his voice flat and even, though his eyes gave away the anguish he was feeling, “At least he’s pretending to. I’m not sure what to do about it…I don’t think anyone is.”
“No,” I said, my eyes narrowing slightly, “We’re not. But we at least have to try.”
“And we haven’t tried enough times?” Ron shot, irritated now, “Look, he needs time. If we ask him about it, it’s only going to make things worse.”
I sunk beside Ron, feeling defeat wash over my like a huge wave. The impact was too great, and a few lone tears leaked from my eyes. It wasn’t fair. My best friends shouldn’t have to go through this, no one should. Ron took my hand absentmindedly and I looked around the common room. Everyone was gone, besides us two. The other girls in my dorm had all trouped out behind me as soon as I was out of their way, and I could care less to where they had gone. But without everyone around, the Gryffindor tower was quite, something I was growing to hate. Silence meant discomfort; discomfort came from pain and suffering. I hoped that the silence would coax him out of his dorm to come out in the common room and sit with us; he knew where we would be. Still, he did not come out.
Ten minutes passed. Ten minutes of battle, raging between my head and my heart. Ron’s silence showed that he was brooding over the subject as well, but whether we were going to come out at the same decision I did not know. Finally, I stood up, not being able to stand the silence a second longer.
“I’m going to talk to him,” I announced steely, “He can say no, but I’m going to try.” Ron looked into my eyes and I could see the calculating glance behind them, wonder if this was the best move for his friend. Apparently it was, for he stood up next to me and nodded. We turned towards the boys’ dorm and walked up the stair case, only stopping for the door that read fourth years. Tentatively, I knocked, wanting to give him the chance to answer. When he didn’t I sighed and pushed the door open.
The hangings were pulled around his bed and I didn’t even stop to consult Ron before I pulled them open. What I saw made my heart break. His bright green eyes, usually filled with warmth seemed dulled and there were bags under his eyes that couldn’t even pass for shadows from his thin framed glasses. The messy hair atop his head was even more unkempt than usual and there was an air of tiredness to him. Harry had his knees pulled to his chest while sitting on the corner of his four poster bed, and it seemed like he had been sitting there for a long time. Too long.
“Are you all right?” I asked worried, sitting down beside him. Harry merely shrugged. “You look, well…you look awful.”
“Nice way of phrasing it,” said Ron rolling his eyes. Harry almost smiled, almost.
“Well, look at the bags under his eyes,” I retorted, “Harry, have you been sleeping?”
“No,” he said in a low dull voice. “Not very much at least.”
“Why?” I asked, feeling confused. What was to be gained by refusing to sleep? Harry bit his lip, before he suddenly burst out.
“I can’t stand the nightmares,” he admitted in a rush, “It’s just easier to stay awake.”
I looked at my friend, one of my best friends, who had underwent so much in just fourteen years and was filled with pity and sadness. Ron sat down beside us and clasped Harry around the back.
“Do you want to talk about it?” he asked, slowly, cautiously. I looked at Harry warily, wanting for an answer all the same.
“Yes, no…I mean, I don’t know!” he said leaning away from us, “I just wish…”
He broke off, looking at both of us with a scared look in his eyes. The green eyes looked down before he spoke again.
“I wish he hadn’t taken the cup with me.”
Harry seemed broken. He continued to look away from us as I place my hand on him. The words I had planned in my head, condolences, advice, they all seemed useless now. All I could focus on was the boy in front of me and how much pain he seemed to be in.
“We were racing to the cup,” said Harry suddenly, though still looking away, “And this huge spider, it came out of nowhere,” Ron visibly shivered. “I yelled at Cedric to warn him, and helped him fight it off. We eventually got it, but I hurt my leg.”
Harry stopped, taking a deep breath, as though readying himself for what he was going to say next. I remained silent, not wanting him to stop now that he had finally started talking, though I already had a million questions jumbled in my head.
“Then we started arguing,” said Harry, sounding extremely bitter, “About who should get the cup. I told him he had won, he deserved it, but he kept arguing that I deserved it as well. I could barely even stand on my leg and I just wanted him to take the cup and win so the whole thing would be done with. Then I told him…I told him to take the cup with me. I could have just taken it myself when he told me to, that was how it was supposed to happen, but I convinced him to take it so we could tie.
“So we both took hold of the cup together,” he continued, and I could see a small amount of tears welling up in his eyes, “And it was a portkey. We weren’t there for a minute before Voldemort killed him…It’s my fault.”
“Of course it’s not your fault!” I cried, shocked he could even find a way to think that, “You had absolutely nothing to do with what happened to Cedric!”
“I told him to take the bloody cup with me, Hermione!” snapped Harry. I opened my mouth to protest but he plowed on, “I could have taken it myself but I made him come with me!”
“Mate, there’s no way you could have known,” protested Ron, looking equally shocked at Harry’s feeling of guilt. Harry didn’t respond and without thinking I leaned over and hugged him, pulling him close to me. He didn’t respond to the hug, but merely patted me on the back. Pulling away, I saw that a few of the tears that had been in Harry’s eyes earlier were now streaked down his face. There was a moment of silence before Ron spoke surely and firmly.
“It’s not your fault.”
Harry merely nodded, leaning back against the wall. I allowed another moment of silence before I asked him again, “Is there anything else you want to talk about?”
Harry sighed, and with that sigh I could see part of the wall he had begun to build around himself crumble. “I don’t know, one second Cedric and I were at Hogwarts in the maze and the next we were in the graveyard.”
“Graveyard?” asked Ron. I glared at him, not wanting to press Harry for too many details to quickly, but Harry didn’t seem to notice. Instead, he nodded and another part of the wall crumpled.
“A muggle one, I’m not sure where,” said Harry. With every word he spoke he seemed to grow sounder and steadier, “And at first it was just Wormtail and Voldemort, but it wasn’t really Voldemort, it was what he turned into. Then my scar started burning worse than ever before, I couldn’t even see and Wormtail he…”
Harry stopped, and I could see a small, but distinguishable amount of fear in his eyes. Part of me didn’t ever want to hear what had happened, to tell Harry to try and forget and put it all behind us, but I knew we couldn’t. I waited for him to speak up again, but he seemed to have lost his voice. After a minute, I placed my hand back on his and looked at him, “It’s OK,” I whispered.
“He…” began Harry taking another deep breath, “He tied me to a gravestone,” I felt shock and fear for Harry, and even though he was sitting right in front of me and I gripped him more tightly as to make sure he wasn’t back at the grave yard.
“I couldn’t do anything about it with my scar and my leg. Wormtail got this huge cauldron, and made some sort of potion, putting all these things in it, and cutting off his own hand. He took my blood,” he said, pulling back his sleeve and showing a long, nasty cut made down his forearm. I balked and Ron looked disgusted as we stared down at it. “Then he put Voldemort into the cauldron and my scar hurt even more…and Voldemort came out of it with his body back.”
The scene played itself before my eyes, Harry, practically blinded by pain, tied against a grave and Voldemort emerging from a huge cauldron. I could see it all, besides Voldemort. None of the books I read had physically described him, though could I never figured out why. Slowly I opened my mouth.
“What did he look like?” I whispered, as though that would make the question more acceptable. Instead of looking at me with reproach like I had done to him, Ron stared at Harry waiting to hear how the man who had torn apart our world looked.
“His skin is pale and stretched,” said Harry softly, “So pale it could be white. His face is flat and snake like and instead of a nose he has two slits. But his eyes are the worst, they’re red and squinted. Cold and merciless.” He shuddered slightly and I could barely imagine a man who could look so terrible. The image of You-Know-Who grew in my mind before I pushed it away, not wanting to imagine him anymore. “And when he stepped out of the cauldron and talked to me…before he called the Death Eaters back.”
“They apparated in and formed a circle and Voldemort spoke to them. One of them broke down, and he started pleading with Voldemort,” said Harry, looking slightly disgusted now, “And Voldemort hit him with the Cruciatus Curse.” Ron’s own appalled face, still twisted from when Harry had shown us the cut grew more pronounced than ever and I felt a hot rush of revulsion in my stomach. “Then he told them that he could touch me now, not like before when if I touched Quirrell I burned him, and he could. My scar started burning again…” he stopped and absentmindedly rubbed the lightning bolt on his forehead, as though he could still feel the pain. I wanted to wrap him in another hug but before I could he continued again.
“Then he untied me,” Harry said, and the small bit of fear was back in his eyes, “And we dueled.”
“You dueled against You-Know-Who?” Ron breathed looking shocked. His eyes were so wide that they looked like they were going to pop out, “Bloody hell, Harry…”
“I don’t really know if I want to talk about that yet,” said Harry in a small voice. He was looking down again, and fidgeting with his hands. I could see that he was struggling to remain calm, and I could tell something had happened that was even worse. How that could be, my mind couldn’t even start to imagine.
“You’ll feel better if you tell us, but you don’t have to,” I said looking straight into his eyes. The dullness that had been their earlier was somewhat gone, but I could still see traces of it. I wanted all of it to be gone, “You don’t have to go into details.”
Harry nodded, but this time, I wasn’t sure if any of the wall broke down, “I’ll just say it all now, I don’t want to have to say it again.” Ron and I nodded before he plowed on, “Wormtail gave me my wand and I stood up opposite Voldemort. He made me bow to him and then he-“ Harry took a deep breath, and I gripped him tightly again, “Used the Cruciatus Curse on me.” I let out of small, terrified squeak before I could stop myself and Ron was now holding onto Harry too. I felt sick, and looked at Harry with new eyes. Earlier I thought he had suffered more than anyone could have imagined, but this?
“After that he used the Imperious Curse,” continued Harry. His face was blank, and it seemed like he was trying to detach himself from the story, I squeezed him tighter. “And tried to make me tell him I didn’t want him to do it again, but I fought it off.” I gasped aloud before I could stop myself. Harry had thrown off the Imperious curse before, but that was just in Moody’s class. How in Merlin’s name had he thrown of You-Know-Who’s? My mind tried to wrap itself around the impossible feat. “Then he tried to shoot another spell at me, but I ducked behind a gravestone. I knew he was coming, that he was going to kill me, and I didn’t want to die hiding behind a grave.”
Some of the steel was back in his voice and I could see the distant features of fear that had lined his face being replaced with those of fight. This didn’t stop a couple of tears from falling out of my eyes, which I hastily whipped away before Harry could see. Harry had almost died, I knew that much already, but the manner in which he had to choose how he wanted to die? He had actually believed he was going to die, to be killed. It was too much.
“I shouted Expelliarmus then same time he shot the killing curse, and our spells collided in the middle of us. There was a bright beam of light and I sort of…I dunno concentrated on it going into Voldemort’s wand. The light entered his wand and Dumbledore said it was called Priori Incantatem…” Harry stopped and I was shocked to see there were tears running down his face. This whole time, only a couple of tears had fallen from his broken green eyes, and those were for Cedric. He had remained strong through the whole duel, even admitting to us that he thought he was going to die. But now the tears were falling thickly down his face. Ron and I both squished closer to him, and I put my arms around Harry. We sat there in the silence while Harry regained his composure and when he did his voice was thick.
“It showed in reverse order the spells Voldemort’s wand had done,” said Harry hoarsely, and though he was speaking again, there were still some tears dropping down his face. “And Cedric’s body came out of the wand, like an echo. After him my…my parent came out of the wand.”
“Oh, Harry!” I cried unable to keep myself from saying anything for any longer. I threw both arms around him. Unlike last time, Harry returned the hug and his body shook slightly with his silent sobs. All the worry I’d had for him over the past few days, all the anxiety, sadness, pity, and pain was poured into that hug and I squeezed him tighter than ever, as though hoping I could take the suffer he was feeling away from him. I squinted my eyes together, trying to keep the tears from obscuring my vision and after a long moment, we broke apart. Harry whipped the tears of his face, a look of exhaustion mingled slightly with relief on his face.
“You OK, Harry?” asked Ron, clasping Harry around the back. Harry nodded slowly and took a deep breath.
“You don’t have to keep going if you don’t want to,” I said quickly before Harry could say anything.
“No,” said Harry, his voice more hoarse than before, “I want to get this over with.”
“Whatever you want,” said Ron seriously, looking into his best friends eyes. Beside them, I nodded in agreement.
“When they came out of the wand, they told me they could distract Voldemort for a moment once I disconnected our wands,” Harry said thickly while rubbing his slightly red eyes, “And Cedric asked me to bring his body back. So I pulled away and broke the connected and ran from my parents and over to Cedric, summoned the cup and came back to the maze.”
I nodded mutely, not feeling any words to express what I was feeling. Harry gave what seemed like a sigh of relief and sunk against the wall beside his bed.
“Do you feel any better?” asked Ron, leaning beside Harry. Harry nodded, and with the last bit of dullness disappearing from his eyes he offered a weak smile. I leaned back beside him and the three of us lay against the wall.
“Thanks,” said Harry softly, looking down again.
Ron grinned, “What are friends for?”
“Best friends,” I corrected, talking a hold of Harry again. Ron did the same and after a moment of silence I looked over to see Harry’s eye lids fluttering to a close. I smiled slightly as he finally drifted off to sleep, removing the black frames from his face. Turning to Ron to say something, I found he was snoozing as well.
My small smile grew just a little bit bigger, and I could tell the walls Harry had built around himself over the last few days were broken. Everything he had said tore me up a little inside, but what was important was that we were together. Even though everything was about to change more drastically than I could have imagined, I knew one thing, us three would always be best friends.