Chapter 6 : Grave Disturbances
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“You both are a part of this family, dears, and should sit with us as any other member of the family would,” had said.
While Harry had been deeply moved by the meaningful gesture, he was sure that he would have been much more at ease, not having to have had a front row seat to witness the depths of their despair that they would struggle with throughout the ceremony. Percy and George seemed to have been taking it all the worst, though Harry suspected that Mrs. Weasley was trying extra hard to hold herself together for the sake of the family.
Ginny quietly told Harry that Percy blamed himself for Fred’s death and for that matter every slight problem or issue that the family encountered. He was driving everyone insane trying to be extra helpful to everyone with everything even when help was not needed or wanted. If was as if, he was trying to make up for or erase from everyone’s memories that he had abandoned the family for so long or compensate for Fred’s absence from the family. It was, as Ginny proclaimed, driving everyone completely insane.
George, on the other hand, was the person that Ginny had been most concerned with. Since the family had returned home to the Burrow, George had barely spoken to anyone, barely eaten much of anything and had straight out refused to return to his flat over the joke shop. The few times that he had emerged from his room to be with the family he did nothing but stare off into space with a distant, vacant expression on his face.
Fred’s funeral had been a beautiful, but somber event. There had been attempts by the whole Weasley family to keep the event as light-hearted as possible since they were sure that would have been the way that Fred would have wanted it, but all of the attempts at humor or fun were noticeably forced and fake.
The event had been widely attended by an extraordinary amount of people which was not overly surprising since both twins were so popular and well-liked. Harry had been astonished, however, to have seen Draco Malfoy lurking just close enough to have been able to hear what was being said, but far enough away from the main body of mourners to avoid attracting unwanted attention. Harry met eyes with Draco once causing him to shake his head fearfully and give a pleading look, which was interpreted by Harry, as him wanting to remain unnoticed. Somehow seeing Draco there looking so wounded made the whole event that much more heartbreaking for Harry. He knew that Draco had often laughed along with the twins’ many stunts during their reign at Hogwarts, but seeing him here paying his respects was evidence to Harry at how much of an impact they must have had on him.
Immediately following the service was a picnic luncheon at The Burrow which was attended by fewer people, mostly intimate friends and family of which there were still quite a few. Harry could not help but notice that George had isolated himself from everyone by wandering through the garden kicking at the gnomes. Harry contemplated going over to try to talk to him until saw Angelina Johnson heading that way. Angelina stayed close to George for the rest of the day talking quietly with him. Harry was even relieved to see George sharing several small smiles with her.
Harry remained at The Burrow for several hours, but found himself alone for the majority of the afternoon. Molly and Arthur had spent the majority of the day making their rounds receiving condolences and visiting with friends and family members. Ron spent the day at Hermione’s side deeply engrossed in each other. Ginny, whom Harry had hoped to have been able to spend quality time visiting with, had spent the day, accompanied by Fleur, busy with various hostess duties that would have normally been tended to by her mother.
He had done his best to steer clear of most of the rest of the guests by sitting at a table as far away from the others as possible and keeping his head down. Unfortunately his attempt to dodge the attentions of everyone was not entirely successful. Several people had approached him throughout the afternoon to congratulate and thank him for defeating Voldemort. He tried to be polite and accept their praises, but found that each person that approached him had done nothing but further chisel out the great hole that had begun forming in his heart since Sirius had been killed.
It had been after one such encounter with an unknown ministry wizard that worked with Arthur, when Harry decided that he needed to get away from everyone before he was forced to endure more undue praise. He said his quick goodbyes to the members of the Weasley family that he could find. Only after promising to visit again very soon he was allowed to escape by Floo Network back to Hogwarts.
He had been glad to find that the Great Hall was empty upon his return. His first instinct had been to head directly back up to Gryffindor tower, but found that the afternoon had caused him to feel rather restless and decided to take a walk around the castle instead. He soon found himself wandering aimlessly throughout the castle completely absorbed in his troubled thoughts.
He could not understand how everyone could shower him with gratitude and praise, when in reality it was ultimately his fault that things had gotten as bad as they had. Didn’t these people understand that if he could have defeated Voldemort sooner he could have saved possibly hundreds of lives? If only he had not gotten distracted by the mystery of the Hallows and had stayed focused on the Horcruxes he may have just been able to finish it all so much sooner. How was he supposed to face the families of those that had been killed because of him? What could he possibly say to any of them to help ease their pain?
As Harry wandered he soon found himself up on the seventh floor just outside of the Room of Requirement. There was a gentle breeze blowing down the hall from the open hole in the side of the castle. He walked up to the hole and stared out unseeingly into the darkening grounds, still lost in thought.
He looked down at the rubble that was strewn about at his feet and was astonished to see several brightly wrapped pieces of what could only be candies. He took a step forward further into the debris pile to investigate further when he found himself surrounded by the now familiar extreme sense of cold that he had felt throughout the previous day on his walk around the grounds. He knew that he should step away from this spot, but he found that the echo of voices that he was now hearing was keeping him rooted to the spot.
“You actually are joking, Perce! I don’t think I’ve heard you joke since you were--“ **
Harry felt like he had been transported back in time as he heard the walls exploding in and debris was raining down on him all over. He could almost hear Percy’s screams of agonized despair, shock and horror. The smell of burnt magical objects and dusty debris burned his nose.
He forced himself to step back out of the cold spot as he tried to keep himself under control. His breathing was becoming rapid and shallow and he could feel the weight on his chest pressing down on him. He stumbled backwards and tried to steady himself against the wall.
He tried to focus on breathing, but found that his mind was haunted by images of not only Fred, but Lupin, Tonks, Colin Creevey, Dobby, Dumbledore and even Sirius. All of them had died because of him, while he remained completely unharmed. It should have been him that died, not anyone of them. All of them had so much more to live for than he did, so why was it that he was still alive and they were not?
The pain in his chest was now almost unbearable. He was panting fast and began to feel dizzy. He closed his eyes and slumped over sideways. He felt his whole body shaking uncontrollably and was sweating profusely despite the cool air blowing in from outside.
When the surprisingly strong, but awkwardly gentle hands reached out and grabbed him by the shoulders and Harry knew not to fight against them as they pulled him back up into a sitting position.
“Potter,” Snape said. “Open your eyes, Potter.”
Harry forced his eyes open and saw the familiar black eyes staring at him intently. Imagining what Snape must be thinking about finding him like this was only making it harder for him to fill his lungs with air.
“Slow down. Take deep breaths.” Snape urged. When Harry failed to comply he said, “Look at me, Potter.”
Harry could feel him probing into his mind, but did not have the energy to try to resist his efforts. Snape did not linger long in his memories, and if he had been shocked by what he had seen he never let it show. He just continued trying to continue to persuade Harry to breathe and relax as he continued holding him upright by his shoulders.
The nausea snuck up on Harry so quickly that he barely had time to turn his head to avoid hitting Snape as he expelled the contents of his stomach onto the stone floor. Snape continued to support Harry until he was sure that he was finished vomiting. Releasing him with one hand, Snape reached inside his robes and brought out a handkerchief and handed it to Harry. Unfortunately Harry was trembling so bad that he could barely grab the cloth from his hand.
“Ok, Potter. That’s enough. You need to listen to me,” Snape said quietly. “The only person you are punishing is yourself and I do not think that any of your friends would want to see you like this.”
Harry shook his head. He didn’t want to think about any of them seeing him like this, but he still couldn’t seem to catch his breath. He was becoming so dizzy that he feared that he might pass out.
“Look at me.”
Harry raised his eyes slowly almost afraid of what he would see.
“Clear your mind and take a long, slow deep breath. Come on. You can do it, Harry,” he insisted.
The sound of Snape calling him by his first name for the first time in his memory surprised him so much that it ignited something in him that caused him to finally be able to focus on the instructions that he was being given.
Within several moments he was relieved to find that his breathing had resumed its normal rate, the pressure in his chest had loosened and he was no longer shaking so fiercely. Relief washed over him as he closed his eyes and allowed him head to fall back against the wall.
“Better?” Snape asked.
Harry nodded. “Thank you, sir. I don’t know why this keeps happening to me,” he said feeling somewhat ashamed by his weakness.
Snape said nothing, but helped him to his feet steadied him and then indicated that Harry should walk with him. They walked in silence for a few minutes, before the loud angry rumbling of Harry’s stomach caught Snape’s attention.
“Have you eaten super yet?” he inquired.
“No sir. I did eat some lunch at The Burrow, but I’m afraid that there isn’t much left in my stomach anymore,” he muttered.
“Very well. Why don’t you go and get yourself cleaned up and then meet me in Dumbledore’s…I mean my office. I’ll have some food brought up for us. I think it is time that you and I talked.”
Harry nodded, turned and walked away from his professor as he gulped down a wave of irrational anxiety that was suddenly threatened to overwhelm him. He had hoped to have more time to work through the things that he had wanted to say to him, to formulate the many questions that were swimming around in his head and to prepare himself for the awful truths that he feared he would never be ready to comprehend or understand properly. He could only hope that finally getting the chance to have his questions answered would help heal the wounds that he had been harboring for so long instead of ripping them open further.
Author's note: I had particular trouble with this chapter and have rewritten it 5 or 6 times already trying to capture the depth of the feelings while still remaining true to the character's natures...Think I finally have it the way I want...
** Quote taken directly from HP & Deathly Hallows. [JK Rowling] Chapter 31, Page 636
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