Chapter 3 : Some People Change
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He was at a loss for words for quite a while before he had to simply speak up and deal with the consequences, "Blimey, Ron, are you completely mental?"
Ron did not respond, he kept his head buried in his hands as if being unable to look around the office and see stunned Harry and the returned engagement ring would make it any less true.
"How could I have been so stupid?" He roared jumping to his feet, the chair flying behind him into the wall.
He walked to the opposite side of his office, his heart aching. He paced back and forth across the office. He almost wanted to tell him to stop pacing for he would surely burn tracks in the floor, but he remained quiet.
Harry just stood there awkwardly unsure of what to say. Ron was his best mate, but he still couldn't help but me furious over the fact that Ron had been so careless with Hermione's heart. He was rather put off that he had treated her so coldly.
"I'm just so stupid!" Ron exclaimed, punching the wall hard, putting his fist through the thin wallpaper.
Ron was so angry with himself that his whole body was shaking.
Typically Harry would have shouted at Ron to get himself under control while he is at the office, but he knew that if he did, he would only make him angrier and did not want to end up hexed. Ron was acting out through his heartbreak and his anger. Ron looked so angry that he could have probably snapped Harry in half like a twig. It was definitely best not to say anything he knew would provoke him.
"Ron," Harry said quietly, unsure how his friend would react.
Ron turned to face Harry, still shaking, his face a bright red and his fists were clenched tightly at his sides. His eyes were red and puffy from crying.
Harry had never seen him this upset before.
"…Why don't you take a couple of days?" Harry suggested quietly, l "Clear your head. I'll cover for you here."
Ron simply nodded and walked out of the room, the whole time muttering to himself about how stupid he was. During his walk from the third floor to the first his face lightened up and he eventually was able to unclench his fingers although his mind still raced and the occasional shake erupted throughout his body. He just wanted to erase this day and Lavender Brown from his life.
"Poor Hermione," Harry sighed as he repaired the wall with the simple 'reparo' spell. He looked down and saw the small engagement ring lying abandoned on the ground where Ron must have dropped it during one of his hand trembles.
"Um, excuse me, have you seen Ron?" He semi-annoyed voice asked in a tone that screamed I'm-more-important-than-you-so-tell-me-what-I-want-to-know.
Harry did not have to turn around to know who was standing in the doorway asking questions. He turned and saw Lavender Brown looking just as perky and annoying as she had in sixth grade year when the whole Ron and Lavender drama had first begun.
Lavender Brown was absolutely the last person he desired to see at that moment, or any moment for that matter. He would rather face Voldemort once again than deal with her.
"He left." Harry growled as he pushed past her with an 'excuse me' that he spat through his clenched teeth.
He had never really thought it appropriate or justified to be rude to women, but given the circumstances he allowed himself the exception. Ron was just as much at fault as she was, but he couldn't help but be angrier with her than him. Because of her announcement she was permanently changed her and Ron's lives and he now faced a much for difficult future than the one that previously lied ahead of him. Not to mention the fact that Hermione was now left alone and heartbroken without her best friend to turn to because he was the one who put her in that state.
"Well, do you know when he will be back?" She asked, annoyance in her voice, as she followed him down the hallway as he made his way to Hermione's office.
You see, most people would say that the Earth revolved around the sun, but Lavender Brown was seemingly under the impression that he Earth revolved around none other than herself and all the other people inhabiting it were simply there to cater to her every whim and desire.
"I don't know, Lavender," Harry sighed, not looking at her. "I do, however know that I need to return to work so if there is nothing else I can help you with I would appreciate it if you would go and allow me to do my job.
Her mouth formed into one solid line and her eyes narrowed. She made one last "hmph" sound and stormed past him, presumably heading to the first floor to leave.
As Harry reached Hermione's office, he immediately felt a sudden shift in the air, a sudden change in atmosphere. It was empty feeling , but not just because Hermione was no where to be seen. The office almost had a haunted feel. It was clear that before she left the Ministry she had visited her office. All the pictures of her and Ron that normally decorated the office were no longer there. They had been ripped from the walls, their picture frames empty and hanging there like ghosts.
He took a step forward, but stopped when he heard a crunch sound under his feet. Slowly he lifted his foot, careful to avoid breaking what it was he had stepped on even further. He looked down and saw he had stepped on a picture frame, the glass now smashed into dozens of pieces on the floor of the office.
He remembered that picture; he remembered it being taken. That was one of the best days of his life and quite possibly his favorite photograph to have ever been taken. It was an older photo, taken quite some time ago. In the picture was him, Hermione and Ron, standing in front of the Hogwarts Express on the last day of term on the end of their first year of Hogwarts, right before they headed back to London.
He picked it up gently, ignoring the sharp pain he felt as a piece of broken glass stabbed his index finger.
Looking down, he saw the three of them, so young, so innocent, so naive to the harsh realities of the world they lived in. He couldn't help but smile and feel his heart sink slightly at the same time as he embraced the image. Hagrid had taken it, the camera small in his too large hands.
It was a bittersweet sight.
In some ways it felt as if the picture was taken mere weeks ago and that they were still so young and pure. In other ways he couldn't help but feel that the picture was taken a lifetime ago, when things were different; when they were different.
He could distinctly remember everything that had happened that day. He could visualize the look on everyone's faces as they said goodbye to their friends for the summer and prepared to go back home and see their families for the summer holidays. Despite the fact that he was returning to number 4 Privet Drive with the Dursley's for a whole summer, Harry had been the happiest he's been in his whole life. He finally found friends and where he belonged in the world. He found a world where he finally was not an outcast, an outsider. He knew where he fit in, and for that opportunity he would be forever greatful. The friends he made that year would be the same friends he remained close to to this very day.
That was the year had truly changed his life, in more ways than one. That was also the first year he had been able to get away from the Dursley's for more than a couple hours while he was left home while they took Dudley somewhere fun.
So many things had changed since that picture was taken
It was just unreal.
When that picture was taken they were young, innocent, eleven year olds, completely amazed at the magical world they had been immersed into. Excited to explore all that their world had to offer.
Now, they were twenty one year olds who were anything but 'young and innocent.' Throughout the seven years of their Hogwarts experience, only six of which did they attend as students, this purity quickly changed as the world they lived In grew darker, they lost people they loved and the ultimate innocence to the reality of their world struck them with great force.
Now, they all had adult jobs at the Ministry and people called this "mister" and "misses." Harry had been dating Ginny, Ron's little sister for several years and things were very serious between the two of them and marriage had begun being discussed in the past few months.
Until this particular day, Ron and Hermione were happily together and engaged. But just within the past couple hours, the engagement had been called off and they had parted both as a couple and as friends. Hermione was now home in her flat, presumably crying over the loss of her fiancé. Ron was probably drowning out his sorrows in firewhiskey at a nearby pub, trying to forget that he lost his best friend and his fiancé in place of a girl he had long forgotten about who was expecting his child within the next few months.
He sighed heavily, setting the picture frame down on her desk gently. He drew his wand and pointed it at the broken frame, "reparo."
It was almost as if the three of them were completely different people. It was almost as if the only thing that remained of the people they once were were their names. He felt they were just shells of the people they once were.
"I miss you guys," he said, meaningfully.
He missed the way they, at that moment, did not have to deal with problems of the adult world. Granted, they did have a slight interaction with Lord Voldemort, but it was nothing compared to what was to come just a couple years down the road.
'I guess none of us are the eleven year olds in the picture,' he thought to himself as he stood in the doorway staring longingly at the image and their childlike expressions and smiles. He took one last look at the office before turning the lights off and heading back down the hall.
One thing was for certain, he was correct in his assertion that they were no longer the people they once were. Everything had truly changed.
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