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Chapter 2 : Back To The Burrow
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"Feels good," was all he said as Harry stepped forward towards the house.
Ron and Hermione glanced at one another and shrugged as they moved to follow. Hermione watched him with a careful eye. There was something about the way he was moving, it was with more grace than she was accustom, but that was not all. It was as if she could feel him, his aura, his energy about them. She could not understand it, but all the same, she could feel it.
The chaos sounding from within silenced immediately as Harry and the other two entered. All froze and gawked at Harry.
"Oi, George drop a stink bomb or you all just astonished to see me?" Ron broke the awkward silence.
Mrs. Weasley let the bowl of potatoes slip from her hands and crash to the floor. She paid it no mind.
"Oh Harry, Harry, how great it is to see you!" she hawked, grasping Harry in a mighty bear hug.
"Look at you," she then commented, pushing Harry back to arms length with her hands on his shoulders as she looked him up and down, "look as if you haven't had a decent meal in months, poor boy! Come sit, sit!" she herded him to the table.
"Good to see you too, mum." Ron mumbled as he moved to the table. Hermione followed.
No one else had yet moved, much less spoken.
"Well," Harry began, looking around at all the old, familiar faces. He had to admit, it did feel much better to be in the presence of so many he loved. Mr. Weasley sat at the head of table holding his evening paper. Bill and Charlie flanked him on either side. Bill still bore the fierce wounds of Greyback. George sat smirking next to Charlie, his long red hair for the most part covering the scar of his sacrificed ear. Fleur was at the counter, as beautiful and radiant as ever. She had been helping prepare the meal. Even Percy was there, standing in the doorway, and just behind him...Ginny, a look of shock upon her face, it nearly as red as her blazing hair.
Their eyes having met, she flushed even further, then turned and ran out of sight. Harry made to get up to follow her, but Mrs. Weasley chirped in.
"No, no, don't you go minding her, just been in a bit of a tizzy is all. We were just about to serve dinner. You sit and eat," she commanded while bustling over to the counter, muttering incoherently under her breath about her daughter.
Harry felt a sharp pinch from his conscience. He had broken up with Ginny as he left in his hunt for the Horcrux's. She had been his only real girlfriend, discounting his short relationship with Cho, and he deeply cared about her. He had ended their relationship out of fear for her. What would have happened if the Death Eaters had discovered their relationship? They would have used her against him.
Following the final battle she had run to him and he had embraced her then, but soon after Harry fell and fell hard, isolating himself from all, including Ginny. Memories of her pleading voice outside his room replayed in his head. Again he felt the sharp pinch. Mr. Weasley though interrupted his thoughts.
"Harry, it is truly an honor to have you here again," Mr. Weasley said with all seriousness.
His taut lips then broke into a wide and happy smile, and all at once the loud chatter the Burrow was accustom to picked back up.
Charlie was busy telling Bill about some rogue dragon they had been tracking. George was busy telling Percy to bugger off, that he didn't give a hoot what the ministery thought of his new Crackling Belly Blasters, and Mrs. Weasley and Fleur were hurriedly adding the last few dishes to the table.
"Smells wonderful, Mrs. Weasley," Harry commented as they began filling their plates.
"Yoh, i's gre't m'm!" Ron commented with an overstuffed mouth.
Hermione laughed at him while his mother scowled. Mr. Weasley abruptly stood up, a glass of wine in his hand.
"If I may, I would like to propose a toast," Mr. Weasley said.
The kitchen again fell silent. Harry noticed that Ginny had still not returned.
"We are blessed to be able to sit here today with the ones we love and enjoy this fine meal," Mr. Weasley raised his glass in the air, "to the ones whom gave their lives so that we may sit here today, here's to the fallen."
"To the fallen!" they all said in unison.
"And to the young man who took on the responsibility of many, who braved the damdest odds, who sacrificed so much for us all, to Harry Potter."
"To Harry Potter!" they all said, except Harry, who was now looking down at the table shaking his head.
Ron patted him on the back.
The dinner was amazing, just what Harry felt he needed. The Weasley's could cheer up the damdest of souls. He spent much of the dinner in silence, listening and laughing at the rest.
On several occassions though he caught Hermione glancing at him. Or was she catching him staring at her? For some reason it seemed odd to him, when their eyes would meet, he felt...he did not have the words to describe it. He thought back to his premonition at the Leaky Cauldron. He could never hold her eyes for longer than a split second but would always curse himself after he looked away. "Those deep brown eyes," he wanted them on him badly.
After a long dinner the kids excused themselves upstairs to ready for bed. Harry halted in his tracks up the staircase as he saw Ginny waiting in the hall for him.
"Harry, could we?" she motioned for him to follow her into her room.
Harry took a deep breath as his mind already began racing to come up with some way to explain himself. Yes, he had ignored all of her calls, granted he had ignored all callers.
"Sure," he agreed.
He turned back, giving Ron and Hermione a look saying "give me a sec," before walking down into Ginny's bedroom. She closed the door behind him. Harry instantly noticed Hermione's things spread out across the spare bed.
"Oh Harry!" Ginny sobbed, rushing fully into him, wrapping her arms tight around his neck. She just cried for the longest time. In some of her hardest sobs she even beat her fists upon his chest.
Harry's guilt deepened.
"Ginny," he soothed, "Ginny, its okay."
"W-what d-did I do, H-Harry, tell me?" she cried.
"Do?" Harry asked confused, "I don't know what you mean, Ginny, you didn't do anything."
"WHAT?" she almost screamed. "I thought we loved each other? It broke my heart when you left me, but I sucked it up, knowing why you were doing it...or so I thought. But now...now that its all over, you just abandon me, not even a word, you ignore my calls..."
Harry was taken aback a bit by her strong language, "...loved each other..."
"Ginny, no...I'm sorry, that had nothing to do with you, it was me, I'm...I'm
"You don't love me any more, it's because I'm ugly!" she fiercely accused.
Harry had to restrain himself from laughing at her ridiculous accusation. Harry did love her, she was most dear to him, but he cringed again at her continuous use of the word love to describe their relationship. They were both...she was just so young.
"Is that it Harry? You think I am ugly, you don't want me anymore? I'm not as pretty, not as smart as Granger?"
"Hermione?" Harry now both unpurposefuly and foolishly let out a bit of a laugh. This set Ginny off once again, wailing like never before.
"That's it, I knew it!" she screamed, "you left me for her, you and her..."
"No Ginny, I don't know what in the world you are talking about. I think you are wonderful...its just...you know...considering what we all just went through...I just needed a moment...to myself," Harry struggled to find the right words in between her loud sobs.
He hated to see Ginny like this, it hurt him to see her so, but at the same time, he did not know why, but he continued to struggle not to laugh. To him, now, after all that had happened, this petty fight just seemed so...foolish...so insignificant....so juvenile.
Nevertheless, Harry held Ginny tightly within his arms. Eventually her sobs began to lessen.
"Oh Harry, I am so sorry to do this to you, I can't even imagine what you have been through, its just that I...I love you so much."
Harry knew what he was supposed to say here. That he should respond to her declaration of love with his own, but the words would not come. He forced them.
"I love you Ginny. You know that."
She squeezed him tighter. As the mood lightened, he had to ask.
"I don't know, I am sorry...please don't say anything. It's just that you two were together, alone for so long. And she is so pretty, and so much smarter than me...and you, who wouldn't want you?"
Again Harry knew what he was suppossed to say, that Ginny was much prettier, that he loved her, not Hermione, but he stalled. Memories he and Hermione had shared flooded his mind. She was so very pretty, he had never had to think it, he knew it, but now...he had the urge to release Ginny and run and tell her just how beautiful he thought she was...
Ginny pulled away and looked up at him.
"Harry?" Ginny asked, her eyes watering up all over again. The corners of her mouth were frowning.
Harry couldn't understand what was happening to him.
"I am sorry Ginny, I just need a moment."
"WHAT!" she screamed again, "A MOMENT! I haven't spoken to you in over a week, and you ask for another..."
"I'm sorry Ginny," Harry said as he gently pushed her aside and strode from the room, closing the door behind himself. What had just come over him? What sounded like a shoe crashed with a loud thud into the door behind him, followed by an ear splitting scream. Harry cringed instictively, but carried on all the same, on to Ron's room.
As he walked in, Ron and Hermione hushed awkwardly. Harry smiled back at them unsure of what was going on. With Ron in his own bed, Hermione was laying in Harry's, dressed already in a pair of her pajamas. He could not help himself, his eyes trailed up and down her slim figure, then back to curved bottom where his gaze lingered far too long. Finally catching himself, Hary suddenly looked away, but not before noticing that Hermione was looking right at him and as he looked away, she giggled.
"Sorry 'bout that mate, she just missed you," Ron apologized for his sister, unaware of the recent exchange by Harry and Hermione.
"I am exhausted, I just need a good night's rest. It's great to be back here with you guys, back at the Burrow."
Hermione began to raise herself from Harry's bed, but then paused as she seemed to have second thoughts.
"Uh, you boys mind if I sleep in here tonight, I think Ginny might need some time to herself? I will sleep on the floor."
Ron tried to speak up but Harry beat him to it.
"Nonsense, Hermione, you can have my bed, I will be fine on the floor. Wouldn't be anything out of the ordinary considering we survived in a tent for nearly a year."
"Oh, I couldn't let you do that. Honestly, its okay," but Harry would hear none of it.
"Well, if you are going to insist, and if you don't mind, you can just sleep here with me," Hermione said innocently while scooting over to make room for him.
Harry had been changing into his pajamas, but for some reason froze with these words. Something caught in his throat. Butterflies invaded his stomach.
"This is crazy," he thought to himself, trying to shake off the nerves, "why couldn't we share the same bed, we had lived in a tent with each other for a year? We are best of friends?"
Harry glanced over at Ron, he appeared dumbstruck. He glanced to Hermione, she was busy fluffing a pillow for him beside her.
"Honestly its just for a little while, I'll get up later and go to Ginny's room once she's had a moment," she offered as Harry was still frozen, unable to speak. She took this as he was uncomforatble with it, which he was, but for different reasons, "...sorry...I just thought...nevermind, I will sleep on the floor."
"You..." Ron tried, but-
"NO!" Harry practically yelled, cutting him off, "I mean... its fine, no reason for you to sleep on the floor."
Hermione smiled sweetly at him. Harry's heart began thumping harder and harder as he moved towards the bed. Harry couldn't help but notice that Ron looked absolutely livid. Harry peeled back the sheets and crawled within. He was sure that Hermione would be able to hear his heart beating madly. He was nervous. Why?
"Goodnight Ron," Hermione called sweetly over Harry.
"Nite," Ron responded grumpily as he turned his back to them.
Hermione paid his attitude no mind.
"Nite Harry," she whispered softly. Her words making him nearly melt. He could not even speak to wish her a good night. He was in panic to find the right words when she kissed his cheek. His face lit afire, he was sure of it, but he dared not move. Hermione giggled a bit under her breath and turned to go to sleep.
Harry continued to lay as still as a stone, frantically looking over at her from the corner of his eye, then over to Ron. Neither seemed to be paying him any attention.
"What did this all mean?" he pondered to himself.
Why was he so nervous, this was Hermione he was thinking about here. His best friend. His best mate's girlfriend, or ex-girlfriend, or whatever they were these days. And just across the hall was his ex-girlfriend, Ron's sister, who was as irrate as ever with him.
"Would rather be back facing Death Eaters," he thought to himself, before drifting off to sleep.
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