Chapter 19 : XIX. Missing
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The cold wind blew harshly on the window pane, leaving a small mark which eventually vanished seconds later. Leaves flew along. As the dark clouds approached, the streets remained empty.
It was a common scenario, especially during the arrival of a very bad weather.
Residents preferred to remain within the confines of their warm homes and in the presence of their loving families. A rainy day was the best time for people to simply stay and enjoy the comforts of home.
But not for everyone.
Harry Potter lay on his bed, blankets and pillows everywhere. Despite the cold atmosphere, he had chosen to lay shirtless on his bed, completely ignoring the fact that he was shivering. His glasses were carelessly placed on his bedside desk, next to his wand and white flower petals. His dress robes lay on the floor along with his shoes.
Complete silence enveloped his room. Not a sound was made, not even Harry.
He was gazing blankly at the cream colored ceiling of his bedroom. His green eyes bore no emotion, no flash. They were merely staring upwards into nothingness. There was also no evident expression on his face.
At one glance, one might be able to convince the self that he was looking at a pitiful corpse left carelessly on the bed.
The only sign of movement inside was the rising and falling of Harry’s chest as he took steady and slow breaths. Other than that, everything remained motionless.
Drops of rain began to fall one by one as the wind continued to blow. A clap of thunder echoed in the skies.
And yet Harry made no move or gesture. He remained on his bed and blank with his thoughts, the very same state he submerged that night he kissed Ginny and left all of a sudden.
He closed his eyes, hoping he could erase the painful memory.
He felt beaten…the very same feeling he had when she stepped out of his life three years ago.
A man could only take so much.
He turned to his side and sighed.
He was alone.
Ron and Hermione were already on their honeymoon. He couldn’t possibly bother them with his troubles. He knew he would have to keep this one inside him and handle it himself.
He felt his heart pounding silently inside his chest.
It still ached.
The rain began to pour outside of his flat yet Harry made no movement.
He held his pillow tighter as he buried his face.
“Go to sleep,” he told himself.
Harry fervently hoped that once he had fallen asleep, he would forget everything that caused him the happiness he hoped to achieve…
Even if it meant forgetting her.
As Harry succumbed into unconsciousness, his left hand fell to the floor and unknowingly touched an object that had been laying there ever since he came back…
It was a picture of Ginny with the glass broken.
2 weeks later.
“Working at the Ministry must be quite stressful, then.”
Harry gave a short grin before he partook of his butterbeer.
“True,” he said, “Especially if you have loads of paper works and raids on your sleeve.”
The woman opposite him giggled as she took a sip of her butterbeer. She tucked a stray lock of blonde hair behind her ear as she flashed him a pearly-white smile. Her blue eyes sparkled as she gazed at Harry, not even bothering to conceal her awe.
“You truly are a very interesting person, Mr. Potter. I’m so glad I was able to meet you in person,” she said.
“I told you, call me Harry,” said Harry, waving a hand, “I prefer being called by name. And might I just say that you are also an interesting person.”
The woman giggled once again as she blushed.
“Thank you, Harry,”
Harry flashed another smile as he sipped from his goblet.
The woman took a look at her watch and gasped.
“Oh, is that the time?” she asked, “I should get going then.”
“Really? Where to?”
She closed her bag, “Diagon alley,” she said, “I’m off to see my mother. She has been bothering me to see her.”
“You should be going then,” said Harry.
The woman smiled at him, “But I’d rather stay here and talk more,”
Harry chuckled, “No, you should go. Mothers are important.”
She nodded her head as she stood. “Well, I’m off,” she said and she extended a hand, “It was nice meeting you, Harry. I hope I could bump into you again.”
He shook her hand, “It was a pleasure meeting you too,” he said, “Have a safe trip.”
Before she left, she flashed one last flirtatious smile and waved. After that, she apparated.
The moment she left, Harry drained his goblet, smacked his lips and sighed.
“Tyler, don’t ever do that again,” he said.
Behind him, his assistant gave a sheepish smile.
“Sorry sir, but I reckon you needed the company,” he said.
Harry gave Tyler a stern look, “Well, aren’t you my company?” he asked, “Tyler, I asked you to accompany me here in the Three Broomsticks to talk away from the Ministry, not to have you introducing me to some random woman.”
Tyler’s head slowly bowed, “Sorry sir, but you looked so spaced while we were talking that I thought you were bored with me,” he explained, “I figured that maybe you wanted the company of someone else.”
Harry rubbed his forehead, “I wasn’t bored, Tyler. I was just…thinking of other matters,” he said, “But that still doesn’t give you the right to match me off.”
“But you seemed interested in her, sir,” said Tyler.
“Blimey, haven’t you ever heard of being polite?” asked Harry in an annoyed tone, “The conversation had already started and I couldn’t blow a woman off, could I? Merlin, I don’t even remember her name.”
Harry rolled his eyes, “Yes, whatever,” he said, “Just do me a favor and never do that again, is that understood?”
“Yes, sir,” said Tyler, “I’m sorry.”
Sighing, Harry stood up from his stool.
“I’ll be going now, Tyler,” he said, “I have to catch up on papers. I’ll see you tomorrow.”
“Er…alright then,” said Tyler, “I’m really sorry, sir. I swear, I’ll never do it again.”
Harry nodded and patted his assistant on the back as he made his way thru the patrons of the Three Broomsticks who were absolutely busy with their merrymaking. He exited the pub without anyone noticing his disappearance.
The cold wind blew against his face, making him shiver. He pulled his coat closer and swung his scarf around his neck. Burying his hands inside his pockets, Harry began to make his way down the streets of Hogsmeade.
Drinking at the Three Broomsticks was one of his ideas of killing spare time. It had been two weeks since Ron and Hermione left for their honeymoon and as of the moment, Harry was quite alone. His co-workers would occasionally ask him out for the night but he didn’t always agree to this arrangements.
Spending time with people who knew you full well was far better than being with co-workers and pretending you actually enjoyed their company.
Harry chose to walk on the farthest sides of the road, keeping his head bowed and fervently hoping he wouldn’t get stopped. He wasn’t in the mood to chat with strangers at the moment. In fact, he was hoping he could slip by like a phantom, unnoticed, as he made his way.
The weather for the past weeks has not been friendly. It rarely gave the people a glimpse of the warm sun but often provided the dull and cloudy atmosphere. The streets were almost never dry as it rained on most days. Harry figured that the weather was merely mirroring his emotional turbulences.
As he was about to cross the street, he saw a sight that made him stop.
A little girl about 11 had tripped and fallen in the middle. Tears began gushing down her cheeks as she moaned in pain. Her small hand constantly rubbed the sore spot on her injured knee.
She was approached by a raven-haired boy who knelt down on his knees and offered her a hand. The girl shook her head and kept pointing at her wound. Harry saw the boy place his hand on top of hers.
“You’ll be alright,” said the boy, “Trust me. I’m here.”
The little girl stared at the boy with her wide, tear-stained eyes. She slowly nodded her head as the boy tucked a stray lock of auburn colored hair behind her ear and slowly aided her in standing.
The scene struck the very image of Ginny Weasley in his mind.
It has been two weeks since he last saw Ginny.
After that night she left him under the tree, Harry had not heard from her. He expected this to happen for he knew how awkward it would be for the both of them once they saw each other after what had just happened. It would be uncomfortable, not to mention, painful too.
The morning after, Harry pretended that nothing happened that night. He made himself believe that he didn’t admit his love for Ginny…that he didn’t kiss her…
That he didn’t hear her say that she can never love him.
The memory was too painful he had to repress it. He told himself not to think of Ginny or anything that reminded him of her unless he wanted to be masochistic or suicidal. Instead, he buried himself with work, raids, the Ministry and basically, WORK.
The very same thing he did three years ago…
But this time, Harry gave some moments for himself. He didn’t torture himself with stressful duties rather there were moments where he would just stop, take a deep breath and succumb into rest.
It gave him the time to be alone with his thoughts, to sort them out in order to avoid going haywire and eventually breaking down.
True, he avoided thinking about her these past two weeks and he was grateful he hadn’t seen or heard from her. It aided his recovery.
Yet at the back of his mind, Harry couldn’t help but wonder where Ginny is now.
Had she vanished once again? Had she taken off to some province to think?
Is she gone for good?
Blinking, Harry realized he had been standing like an idiot. The children had long disappeared from his sight and he had not moved for a minute.
Shaking his head, he crossed the street yet he didn’t stop wondering.
Was it possible that Ginny would not show herself again for three years?
Or…maybe even never?
He could picture Ginny sitting on the edge of a rock, staring at the sea with the wind blowing her hair and thoughts scrambled inside her mind. Probably Caleb was with her. Harry had not seen him for weeks also.
Maybe they’re planning a life together already…he thought.
They might be somewhere in Cumbria, staring into each other’s eyes…probably standing in front of a minister and being declared as husband and wife. He considered the fact that Ginny might take any measure to escape…the incident. She was the kind of person who would do so.
Thinking of it made his heart twinge.
Would Ginny attempt such a thing to prove to Harry that she no longer loved him?
Would she go to such lengths?
He sighed. Everything had become more complicated than he expected. What he hoped to be a refreshing confession turned out to be a messy, complex affair.
As he approached the public restrooms, which was the secret entrance to the Ministry, he chose the moment to stop and close his eyes. He had to refocus. He was going to work for Merlin’s sake.
He needed to clear his head.
“Stop it, Harry,” he told himself, “Get over it. She’s not coming back…
She never will…”
Stepping inside the Auror office, Harry felt a great sense of relief for the warmth. He had been shivering relentlessly outside, despite the fact that he was wearing a coat.
The office was in a buzz as he entered. Aurors left and right were occupied with papers or planning operations that only some noticed Harry’s appearance, acknowledging it with the usual greetings.
“Morning, Mr. Potter,”
“Hello, sir. Had a nice evening?”
“Good day, sir. Coffee? Cocoa?”
Harry returned these greetings with his usual replies. As he went inside his cubicle, he was greeted by a person he did not expect to see sitting on his chair with legs raised up on the table.
“How’s it going mate?”
Opposite him stood Ron Weasley, fiery red hair ruffled as if he had just rolled out of the bed, skin sun-kissed and definitely darker, and wearing a smile that reached his ears.
“Missed me?” he asked, standing up and clapping Harry on the shoulder.
“It’s good to see you again,” said Harry, “How was it? You look great!”
Ron laughed, “Yep, I look like some bloke who had just rolled out of bed and didn’t even bother to take a bath,” he said.
“Looks good on you, mate,” said Harry, “You look like you just slept under the sun. You’re bloody darker.”
Ron’s hand ran thru his hair as he smirked, “Hermione enjoys the tanned, macho bloke look,” he said, flexing his arms and making Harry laugh.
“How’s Hermione? Did she enjoy the Caribbean?” asked Harry. He imagined Hermione in a sundress, hair swaying with the wind and skin as dark as Ron’s.
“She sure did,” said Ron, “I’ve never seen her so intrigued with crabs and all those sea creatures. And by the way, you should’ve seen her argue with this warlock we met at a local pub who wanted to pursue hippogriff executions. Never seen her bloody angry with anyone in my entire life.”
Harry laughed as he laid his bag and took a sit on his chair. “I can see that you thoroughly enjoyed your honeymoon,” he said, “When did you get back?”
“Just yesterday. Me and Mione moved in to our very own flat and decided to surprise Mum,” said Ron, “Trust me when I say that unpacking stuff can be murderous.”
“So,” said Harry, “How’s married life suiting you?”
Ron heaved a sigh as he pocketed his hands, a dreamy expression on his face.
“It’s been awesome so far. I mean, I was used to waking up alone in my bed every day. But now, when I open my eyes, I see Hermione snoring next to me,” he said, “It sort of feels weird but very good at the same time. I’m not alone, anymore.”
For a slight moment, jealousy reared its ugly head inside Harry’s heart. He wished he could be happy as Ron. His best mate looked as if he had no problem in the world as they spoke.
“Your Mum must’ve been so glad to have you back,” he said.
Ron rolled his eyes, “Yep, pretty much. The way she hugged us, you would’ve thought we came back from some sort of exodus. Overkill as usual,” he said, “Speaking of my mum, there’s something I want to ask you, Harry.”
He saw Ron’s expression become serious.
“Well, Mum said that Ginny hasn’t been coming home for weeks since the wedding,” he said, “The last time Mum saw Ginny, she was sort of hurrying. Said she had to go back to her flat or something. That was it, actually. And till now, Mum hasn’t heard anything from Ginny.” Ron’s eyes looked at Harry.
“Do you have any idea where she could be, mate?” he asked, “I mean, I reckon you were one of the few people she talked with that night.”
Harry gulped. He knew Ron was bound to ask that question.
“Sorry but I haven’t got any idea on that,” he said, trying to keep calm, “Maybe she went out to have some time with Caleb?”
Ron seemed to have considered this. “That’s possible. I’ve told Mum the same thing but she was off her rocker, worrying herself. I told her: ‘Ginny’s all grown up now, Mum. She can do things on her own,’” said Ron, “Yeah…she might be with Caleb. I haven’t seen that bloke yet.”
Harry gave a short smile as he avoided Ron’s gaze. “Really…well, maybe you should check with him,” he said, “I’m sure Ginny’s fine.”
There was a short silence.
“You alright mate?” asked Ron, who had suddenly moved forward, “You look like you have loads of things on your mind.”
“What?” asked Harry, then he suddenly realized the dumb look on his face, “Oh, no, I’m okay. Just thinking. Had to organize a number of raids and investigations today.”
Ron reached over and clasped Harry’s shoulder. “You should give yourself a break, mate. You’re no super wizard. All the stress must be taking their toll on you,” he said, “You wouldn’t function properly if you keep on torturing yourself.”
Harry nodded his head, “Don’t worry, Ron. I’m not overdoing it, I swear,” he said, “I’m balancing it. Believe me.”
Ron grinned as he settled back on his chair. “That’s more like it,” he said, “At least you’re not beating yourself up.”
Harry merely smiled as he began stacking the piles of parchment on his desk. He felt no need to inform Ron of what really happened that night before Ginny disappeared. He refused to wreck Ron’s joyous aura.
It really wasn’t necessary.
A sudden commotion had broken Harry’s trail of thought.
Just outside of the office, he perceived a frantic voice and arguing.
“But I need to see him now!”
“Really now, Mr. Potter is preoccupied at the moment and I’m sure that he wouldn’t-“
“Don’t tell me Harry’s bloody busy! I need to see him NOW!”
The roaring voice sounded quite familiar. Both Harry and Ron stood up to see who the frantic voice was.
“What’s going on?” asked Ron.
Harry did not answer as he also had no knowledge of the answer.
“You can’t just go barging in!” Harry heard the receptionist snap but apparently her attempt had failed when he was visited by guest in alarming state.
Red-faced, sweaty and catching his breath, Caleb Andrews appeared right before Harry. He looked as if he was chased by a hippogriff right across the street. There was such an alarm in his eyes that Harry couldn’t help but sense that something terrible has just occurred.
“Harry,” said Caleb, finally finding his voice, “Thank Merlin I found you.” He staggered his way towards the cubicle. Tinsel suddenly appeared behind Caleb, a horror-stricken look on her face.
“I’m so sorry, sir. He just came barging in,” she apologized, “I tried to stop him.”
“It’s a blood emergency, woman!” snapped Caleb.
“But you can’t just-!”
Harry held his hand up to silence Tinsel.
“It’s alright, Tinsel,” he told her, “I’ve got this covered. You can go back to your desk now.”
Tinsel hesitated at first but the stern look on Ron’s face was enough to convince her to begin walking back to her place. Together, Ron and Harry aided a huffing-Caleb inside the cubicle.
“Caleb, what’s wrong?” asked Harry.
Caleb held unto the nearby chair, gasping for breath.
“Harry…you’ve got to help me,” said Caleb as he caught up with his breath, “You’re the only person I could go to.”
“What’s that?” asked Harry, “Caleb, what’s happened? You look like you’ve been chased by a Dementor.”
“More like a death eater,” said Ron, “He looks bloody terrified. Do you want some whiskey, mate? To calm the nerves?”
“No…no need for that,” he murmured. Caleb was shaking his head and he was also pulling his hair. One look at him was enough to convince an innocent bystander that Caleb had just been a victim of such a vindictive crime. His state was enough to also bother Harry.
“Caleb…what’s wrong?” he asked.
The bloke buried his face inside his hands. He was shaking. Harry saw him attempt to speak but he suddenly began to break down.
“Caleb?” he asked again.
Caleb took the time to catch his breath. His grief-stricken face appeared and his tormented eyes faced Harry.
“It’s…it’s Ginny,” he spattered.
Harry and Ron’s attention were both grasped the moment Ginny’s name was uttered.
“What about Ginny?” asked Ron, “Caleb, what happened to her?”
Caleb’s face was still buried in his hands, his sobs muffled. He was shaking in his seat, unable to speak for a moment.
As Caleb sat there moaning, a number of horrendous thoughts began to circulate Harry’s mind. They began to play cruel tricks of him. His eyes looked down.
What could have happened to Ginny?
Looking at her boyfriend, Harry was convinced that something frightening had happened to Ginny. He tried not to think of horrible ideas but they kept coming. Was she trapped somewhere? Was she hanging off a cliff, helpless?
Harry looked up. Caleb remained speechless. He saw that Ron’s impatience got the best of him.
“Damn it, Caleb! Tell me!” he demanded, “What the bloody hell is wrong with my sister?”
Caleb’s head emerged from his hands. Harry saw his eyes scarlet and his face pale. He felt his stomach churn unpleasantly for he knew the next words he was about to hear would not be good news.
Time stopped. Everything simply became motionless.
There was a cold silence in the air.
Harry’s fingers slipped from the edge of his desk at Caleb’s words. He became detached…distant. It was as if his soul had been suddenly sucked out from his body. His entire being crashing to its downfall.
Ginny was missing.
“What…what do you mean ‘missing’?” asked Ron, breaking the silence. Harry saw his best mate’s face lose its color; the excitement from his eyes was extinguished.
Caleb took another deep breath as he wiped his eyes. He was still unable to speak.
Harry understood. He himself could not utter a single word.
“Caleb,” said Ron, straightening up and approaching Caleb, “What happened? Tell us. What do you mean ‘missing’?”
The poor man looked up at them and Harry saw torment. His bloodshot eyes were filled with pain beyond imagination.
“I…I haven’t seen her for two weeks,” he began, sniffing, “The last time I…I saw her was at the…the wedding. I had excused myself…but when I came back for her…she was gone.”
Harry’s heart began to pound wildly against his chest. Caleb’s words reminded him of the incident he was attempting to forget. His hands became cold.
Caleb rubbed his eyes as he continued, “I…I was surprised to learn that she…had left. Just like that. I reckoned that…she might have decided to go home…without me so I didn’t bother,” he stammered, “But when I came back to my flat, there was this.”
He dug inside his pockets and fished out a rumpled piece of parchment. He handed it to Ron who opened it.
Harry was gazing at Ron’s expression. It remained blank as he handed Harry the parchment. The moment the piece of paper touched his skin, Harry felt his insides freeze. He hesitated for a moment.
Sucking his breath, Harry read.
There it was, written in Ginny’s perfect script…the following words:
I’m so sorry, Caleb.
Harry felt his eyes glued on the parchment.
I’m so sorry…
His hold on the paper had tightened, to the point a part of it had crumpled. He couldn’t find it in himself to look at Ron or at Caleb.
And this was because he had a hunch that he somehow knew why Ginny was sorry…
And probably why she went missing.
For a second, that very night came back to his memory. His confession. Her hesitation.
Ginny pulling away and the fearful look on her face…
“It was lying on my table when I got home,” continued Caleb, breaking Harry’s reverie, “When I saw it, I immediately dissaparated to her flat. It…it was locked. I knocked for hours…but she didn’t answer. I thought maybe something happened…and she…she wanted to be alone.”
He buried his face in his hands once more.
Harry on the other hand, became increasingly uncomfortable, as every second passed. He still could not bear to look at Caleb as the guilt began to inject itself in his system.
Caleb’s face emerged once again as he rumpled his hair. He looked utterly confused and hurt.
“I have no idea on what happened to her,” he said, “A week had passed and I had not heard from her. Her flat remained locked and I…I went to the Burrow and Molly said that she…she wasn’t there. I said nothing to Molly…I…I didn’t want to bother her. It was…during that time that I became suspicious…”
Harry gathered the courage to look up. He saw Ron, all focused and serious, as he gazed at Caleb. Harry could see the worry lines building up on his forehead as he listened. His sister was missing after all.
“Suspicious?” asked Ron.
Caleb managed a weak yet sarcastic smile, “Yes, wouldn’t you be suspicious? Deep inside…I knew…I knew that something was wrong,” he said, “Something wasn’t right.”
He stopped for a moment to breathe.
“I went to her flat once again but this time…this time…”
Caleb stopped as he bit his lip. He was unable to proceed with his story. Harry sensed this was the part where everything became complicated, which was the reason why Caleb was sitting right in front of them, troubled and in pain.
Caleb released a frustrated sigh as he banged his hand on the wall.
“The door was open,” he said, “Her door…it was open. I went inside…and I saw…everything was trashed. Tables were overturned…and vases broken…”
Unable to contain it anymore, Caleb broke down. Ron immediately wrapped an arm around the bloke as he began to sob uncontrollably. The whole Auror department became silent as Caleb’s wails echoed within the office.
“She was gone!” wailed Caleb, “She wasn’t anywhere inside. I…I looked for her that moment she went missing…I thought maybe it was a robbery. But I…I couldn’t find her anywhere.”
He stopped, taking in deep breaths.
“I…I’ve looked for her everywhere,” he continued, “I’ve asked her friends…colleagues…everyone! I didn’t tell them what I saw…I didn’t want to trouble them all…that’s why…that’s why…I came to you, Harry. I don’t know what to do anymore…”
Ron gave Harry a searching look as he rubbed Caleb’s back, comforting the bloke.
“What bothers me the most is…I never found out…what happened to her that night…” said Caleb, “When I was looking for her…a friend told me…she had gone out…and seemed so…so…upset. I reckon…whatever that was…it has something to do with this…”
There was another silence.
Inside, Harry was screaming and basically pulling his hair out.
Damn you! Look at what you’ve done! Idiot!
As he watched Caleb breaking down and Ron looking troubled, Harry could feel his insides rambling. He was staring at the mess he had created. He had no idea that a single mistake could create such a chaos.
“Oh Ginny…my Ginny…” moaned Caleb, “What’s happened to you?”
He was clutching Ron like he was holding for dear life, making Harry feel worse as the seconds ticked. He knew it was his fault…
It was always his fault.
His recklessness has resulted to Ginny locking herself away and suddenly disappearing with no trace. His impulsive nature has lead to Caleb being crushed…Caleb who had done nothing wrong against him.
He felt like a hypocrite.
Harry’s head was spinning. He couldn’t take all the events anymore. There was only so much he could handle.
“My Ginny…what could’ve happened to her?” said Caleb, “I wish…I wish I knew why she ran away that night. I wish I ran after her…to know what made her so upset…”
“Caleb, I bet whatever that was doesn’t have anything to do with her going missing,” said Ron.
“No, you don’t understand,” said Caleb, “I feel so…ashamed. Terrible. She needed me that night. Something happened to her…and I wasn’t there.”
He broke down once more.
“You have to find her…no, we…I…I have to find her…make it up,” he moaned, trembling.
Harry felt his hands shaking, his stomach churning. The guilt was beginning to settle within his entire being.
He knew he had to do something.
“Caleb…” he began, “There’s something I need to tell you.”
Caleb looked up at him, his blue eyes red with tears and searching for answers. Ron was also looking at him and it made Harry feel even worse. He hoped he could steal Caleb away from Ron but he knew better. Ron would want to be involved. After all, it was his sister that went missing.
Harry could feel his fear bubbling inside of his as he rubbed his arm.
“Wha…what’s that, Harry?” asked Caleb.
Harry bit his lip.
He heaved a sigh.
“I…I can tell you what Ginny was upset about that night,” he said, “But I don’t think it’s related to her disappearance.”
Caleb was looking at him, his eyes filled with sudden hope.
“What is it, then?” he asked.
Harry gulped. “Before I do…I just want to…er…apologize first,” he said, “Because what I’m going to tell you…it may sound unpleasant.”
He did not dare to look at Ron, whom he knew was gazing curiously at him, despite the fact that he was beginning to worry over his missing sister. Harry focused his gaze on Caleb.
His heart was banging wildly against his chest, his nerves wrecking.
“What?” asked Caleb, his tone becoming impatient, “What is it, Harry?”
Harry took another deep breath.
“I was the last person Ginny was with that night,” he began, “I was with her the moment she ran away.”
He can see the confusion stirring in Caleb’s expression.
“What…what do you mean?”
Harry bit his lip once more. His hands were stone cold but he knew he must tell the truth. There was no turning back.
“I…I’m the reason why she ran away,” he said shortly.
He saw Ron’s hand slipping from Caleb’s shoulder and Caleb straightening up, the tears on his face all dried up.
“You?” asked Caleb, “What…what did you do to her? What happened?”
Harry was finding it hard to look at the two of them. The heavy feeling in his heart began to take its toll on him.
He took another deep breath, praying that Caleb, and even Ron, would understand.
Caleb was already looking at him.
Harry faced him, ready for the worst.
“I told her I loved her.”
That was it.
There was a cold silence within the cubicle. Ron’s jaw had dropped, his eyes mirroring disbelief at what he had just heard. Caleb, on the other hand, showed no expression. He was still listening.
Harry continued, his insides shaking.
“I…I told her that I still loved her. It came out of me,” he explained, “I know it was wrong…but I couldn’t fight it anymore. And then I…I…” he faltered.
For a moment, his strength failed. No words came out from his mouth. His fear bubbled.
But he knew perfectly well he had to say it.
“I kissed her.”
Ron released a tiny gasp of shock. Harry looked at him, his eyes beseeching his friend’s. He was hoping that Ron would not judge him…yet instead, understand him and his problems.
His eyes moved away from Ron and landed on Caleb.
There was no expression of shock or any sort of surprise. His grief was no longer evident on his face. His lips were pursed together and he was in sudden deep thought. He was not looking at Harry. His eyes were glued to the floor.
“You kissed her,” he murmured.
He wasn’t facing Harry; therefore Harry could not get a read of Caleb.
“Yes,” said Harry, “And I’m…sorry. It was wrong. I should’ve never done that.”
Caleb’s hands were clasped together. He appeared to be contemplating.
The silence broke out once more.
“You…kissed her,” he repeated.
Harry felt his heart pound harder.
At that moment, Caleb lifted his head and stood up.
The next moments were merely a blur.
Before he knew it, Harry felt a strong force hit his face, making him fall from his chair unto the floor.
“What the bloody hell?!” blurted Ron.
Harry touched his face. He felt the blood dripping from his lip as a result of Caleb’s blow.
Ron had leapt from his position and quickly took hold of Caleb’s arms. The commotion had caused a stir among the employees who had already surrounded the cubicle, wands out and all, ready to aim at Caleb.
“Don’t!” Harry exclaimed, tasting his own blood as he spoke.
Caleb made no attempt to thrash or escape Ron’s grasp. In fact, after punching Harry and being held by Ron, there was an expression of disbelief on his face. It was as if he couldn’t believe what he had just done. He looked at his closed fist then his eyes landed on Harry.
“I…I…Merlin…” was all he murmured.
He was still looking down at Harry, on the floor and sporting a bloodied lip. There was no hate in his eyes…and it bewildered Harry even more. He did not mind the blood spilling from his lip…or the sore he was beginning to experience.
He was focused on Caleb.
“I’m…I’m sorry, Harry,” began Caleb, “It’s just that…I bloody trusted you. I can’t believe you’d do this to me…after all I’ve been to you. I trusted you.”
Caleb’s words stabbed Harry in the heart.
I trusted you.
All it took was four words to break Harry’s surface.
“This is how you repay the kindness I had for you…” he continued, “And to think I held much respect for you.”
Caleb’s face was ashen and his eyes fell downward. His look tormented Harry to the bone. It made him realize…the hypocrite he was.
“I’m sorry, I should have not punched you. It was wrong,” cut Caleb, “An hour ago, I thought coming here was the proper thing for my dilemma. Now…I’m thinking all of this was a mistake.”
He slowly removed himself from Ron’s grasp.
“I’ll find her, Ron,” he said, eyes covered by his hair, “I will find her.”
He turned his back to Harry. Pairs of eyes were looking at him but Caleb did not mind any of them. He simply stood there, arms on his sides and fists closed.
“Forgive me, Harry,” he said, “But I would no longer be requiring any of your help.”
Without another word, Caleb made his way out of his cubicle and out of the Auror department, leaving Harry bloodstained on the floor with a number of people staring at him, wanting answers to their questions.
There was another cruel silence in the air.
Harry contemplated on Caleb’s words once more.
I trusted you.
At that moment, he felt like the world’s biggest prat.
“Alright, there’s nothing to see here,” said Ron, breaking the silence and waving his hands, shooing the bystanders, “Everyone get back to their jobs and no questions!”
Ron’s roaring command forced the employees to return to their posts without another word but Harry could still hear them murmuring. Their whispers were like the buzzing of bees in his ears; he couldn’t hear them properly. He wondered if that was an effect from the blow…or if his mind was not functioning well at the moment.
He felt Ron pulling him up.
“C’mon mate, get up,” he said gently.
Ron aided Harry back to his chair. As he sat down, Harry was still dazed, not only because of Ginny’s sudden vanishment, but also with his own hypocrisy.
“Are you alright?” asked Ron.
Harry looked directly at Ron’s eyes. He was sorely tempted to say:
Do I look okay to you?
But he knew he had no right to do so.
“Am…am alright,” he managed to say, fixing his posture. His face was still warm with embarrassment yet his heart began to settle down.
He could not look at Ron directly in the eye. He was still ashamed with all the discoveries he had revealed.
Harry looked up.
There was no hint of anger or resentment in Ron’s eyes.
“When you’re up to it…we’ll talk…alright?” said Ron, “For the meantime, I have to go and set up a group of Aurors to start looking for my sister.”
“Alright,” said Harry.
Ron clasped Harry on the shoulder and gave him a little shake.
“I’ll be back…to look for my sister,” he said, “We’re going to fix this.”
Harry merely nodded his head.
Ron said no more as he exited the cubicle. He called on three Aurors on his way out.
“I have an assignment for you,” he said.
The rest of his words no longer stuck to Harry as he sat there, motionless. His thoughts were scrambled, in disaaray. Caleb’s betrayed face replayed in his mind.
I trusted you…
Over and over again.
Ginny and Caleb’ faces whirled inside his head, his heart getting heavier by the moment.
He knew he had done wrong.
As he sat there, Harry knew there was one thing he could do…
He had to set things straight.
“I have to find Ginny,” he murmured to himself.
He was going to find her…to look for her.
But he would be doing it not for himself…
But for Caleb.
For all the wrongs he had done against the innocent bloke.
Without hesitating, Harry immediately got up from his seat. He took his coat and tucked his wand inside his pocket.
He would let Ron be in-charge for the wide search…
He would look for Ginny on his own.
Without any help…
It was the only thing to do.
Harry took a deep breath as he stood on the threshold.
His right hand was raised and poised to knock but he stopped.
He stood in front of the door…unable to decide.
Before beginning his single search for Ginny, Harry decided that he would pay Caleb a visit. He wanted to apologize…to repent for the wrongs he had done. Caleb’s face haunted him as of that very moment and it encouraged him more to knock and explain.
Caleb deserved it.
Harry planned to apologize humbly and swear to Caleb that he will find Ginny no matter what it takes.
When he finds her, he’ll avoid making any contact with her. He’d cut off any relations with her…
He would erase himself from their life.
Even if it hurts.
He wouldn’t bother them. He wouldn’t bother Ginny.
He would stay away.
Harry knew that this day would come. Ever since he first saw Ginny once again, he knew that he should have never made a connection with her because it would cause more trouble than he asked.
As much as it pains him, he knew he had to do it. Caleb did not deserve his treatment.
And certainly, Ginny didn’t.
Taking another deep breath, Harry straightened up.
He would do this.
He raised his right fist once more…
But the moment his hand touched the door, Harry found out that it was already open. The door swayed lazily.
If there was one thing he learned in his years as an Auror, ajar doors may mean trouble.
He slowly took his wand out as he leaned, listening for any suspicious sound. None came. Only the sound of the door.
Taking small steps, Harry quickly entered Caleb’s flat as silent as he could.
Darkness was everywhere.
“Lumos,” he whispered, lighting the tip of his wand.
The sight before him made him freeze.
“For the love of Merlin…” he murmured in shock.
Things were strewn on the floor. Furniture overturned. A broken vase lay at his feet. Looking up, Harry saw a smear of blood on the wall.
His hands became cold.
He gripped his wand as he made his way towards the living room. His breathing became even and he heightened his senses.
“Caleb?” he asked.
There was no movement in the room. He passed a table that now lay on its sides. Judging from the look of everything, Harry caught signs of struggle. The smear of blood on the wall was enough evidence.
“Caleb?” he asked again, wand at the ready just in case.
A second later, Harry found himself standing in the middle of the living room. As he expected, everything was trashed. More broken fragments everywhere and furniture laying on their backs.
He looked around, his breath coming short by the second. His heart pounding wildly against his chest…
There were signs of struggle everywhere he looked, Harry was sure of it. He bended on a broken piece of glass lying nearby.
“What the hell happened here?” he asked himself. He was completely alone. He heard no voices or other sounds inside the flat. He kept his wand at the ready in case he was attacked.
He lifted his gaze at the blood smeared on the wall.
He stood up and slowly made his way, pointing his wand at the wall.
He placed a finger on the blood. It was still fresh…somehow. Harry was trying to figure out if the blood was Caleb’s…or Ginny’s. A lump had formed in his throat. He was beginning to feel uncomfortable with the situation.
“What the hell?” he asked once more.
His attention was caught by a piece of parchment that fell on the floor.
Harry bended on his knees and picked up the parchment. He turned it over.
He read what was written on it.
A second later, Harry dropped the parchment. His blood continued to race within his veins, his heart beating faster than ever. His fists began to clench themselves. Beads of sweat formed on his forehead.
He never expected that his day would close in this manner.
Straightening up, Harry gripped his wand tighter. He took a deep breath as he closed his eyes.
Merlin help me, he thought.
The fear began to bubble inside him. He clenched his fist once again.
He knew he had to do something- FAST.
Or he might be too late.
Without wasting another second, Harry began to walk away from Caleb’s ruined living room. His pace quickened as the faces of Ginny and Caleb spun inside his head.
As he closed the door, Harry couldn’t help but ponder on the words written on the parchment. He had a hunch on whatever happened to Caleb. And he certainly had an idea on the reason behind Ginny’s disappearance.
All it took were the words on the parchment.
So you think you can save her?
A/N: I am so sorry it took so long. School had just ended and I’m catching up with tons of things: Christmas, this, and other stuff! I hope you understand. As I’ve said, I don’t rush things because I want this piece to be BEAUTIFUL. Anyways, I hope this gets approved before the holidays end!
Happy Holidays and a Happy New Year!
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