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Chapter 18 : Realisation
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"Hermione," his voice repeated.
"Sorry if I'm keeping you awake Harry, I don't mean to," Hermione replied, wiping at her eyes and trying her best to focus on the tent's roof in order to stop the tears clouding her vision.
Hermione heard a creaking and then a rattle and a thump; the sound of Harry jumping down off of his bunk. She wiped her nose. He was probably angry at her and just wanted to go out for a night time stroll Hermione thought. She waited patiently for the sound of the tent door flapping open then shut. It never came.
Instead she heard Harry's footsteps plod closer to her in the dark and then a slight gasp as he missed the step.
"Harry," Hermione said, a little strangled.
"It's okay Hermione, I just can't see very well in this dark, hang on a moment," Harry replied.
There was the sound of scrabbling, as though Harry were searching his pockets for something.
"Got it," he breathed, "Lumos."
The tip of Harry's wand lit up with a white light and Hermione found herself momentarily blinded.
"I couldn't find my way," Harry said, the lenses of his glasses glinting from the wand light. He moved toward Hermione and sat down at the end of her bed. The mattress strained slightly as he did so.
"Can't you sleep either?" Harry asked.
"No," Hermione replied, shaking her head.
"I guess that makes two of us."
Hermione sidled up to Harry, wrapping the blanket around the two of them and resting her head on his shoulder. He responded by resting his head on hers and turning out the light.
In the darkness Hermione felt Harry's hand reach out for hers and she took it gladly. He squeezed it gently and all of a sudden Hermione didn't feel empty anymore.
"We're going to be okay," Harry whispered, his voice disappearing into the blackness.
Hermione snapped out of her reverie as George picked her wand up from the floor and offered it to her.
"Harry told me everything was going to be okay," she whispered, unable to take her wand from George.
"It is going to be okay," George said, taking Hermione's hand and opening her palm. He placed her wand there and curled her fingers around it.
"Did you know Muggle Doctors are forbidden to say such a thing?" Hermione gulped, grasping her wand a little more firmly.
George just reached up and with the back of his hand moved a strand of hair away from Hermione's face.
"Muggle Doctors can't say that things are going to be okay because there's always a chance that something will go wrong," Hermione reiterated.
"Muggle Doctors haven't seen you," George said, cupping Hermione's chin and forcing her to look at him, "you should have seen yourself just there, you were terrifying."
"I prefer brilliant, brilliant sounds much better than terrifying," Hermione commented, breaking eye contact. Her face remained blank and her eyes tear-filled.
George let go of her chin and chuckled. Hermione didn't respond, she was too broken to see humour.
"Why did you read my letter?" Hermione eventually asked, it was the question that she'd needed to ask since she'd arrived.
"I was curious," George said steadily, "but there's always the old saying that curiosity killed the cat and I guess I forgot that."
"Have you ever-" Hermione gulped, "have you ever read anybody else's?"
"Ron's, I've read Ron's," he replied, "and Ginny's."
"Does Ginny know?"
"How do you think she knows I like to grieve alone?"
"Oh, I see," Hermione nodded.
"It was beautiful, what you wrote, I don't want you to worry about not meeting my expectations."
"I wasn't worried."
"No, I doubt you would be, so, what do you want to do?"
"I want to go home, I want to go home and think," Hermione replied, still with a face as blank and as cold as the desert of Antarctica. George smiled nonetheless.
Harry didn't know where else to go. He most definitely couldn't go to the Burrow; he wouldn't know what to say to Molly. His bag, full of his clothes, was discarded on the ground next to him. Harry didn't care that it was soaking up the water from the puddles that saturated the pavement. In fact he didn't care about much.
He was cold and shivering. His clothes were wet and the air was crisp. He'd tried the door a few times but there was no answer, perhaps she was asleep, or too busy. Either way Harry would just have to wait, whether it be for minutes or hours.
He could go to the Leaky Cauldron, or if he really wanted to he could apparate to the Three Broomsticks and take up lodgings there, but neither appealed. There would be nobody friendly there.
Harry rubbed his hands together, trying desperately to try and add warmth to his body, but it didn't work. He grabbed his bag and unzipped it, taking out a jumper. It would quickly become damp, like all the other clothing he was wearing, but it would hopefully keep him a little warmer.
Thinking about it Harry could also have gone to work, it was always open and he had a lot of paperwork to do, but then there wouldn't be anyone friendly there either. Not a true friend anyway.
No, he needed to wait for her, and wait he would.
Hermione reached the end of her street. She'd apparated to a street a few roads away from her house, wanting to have a short walk in the night air before she got home.
As she drew closer to her front door she realised there was something on her front step.
"Hello," she said, craning her neck and quickening her pace. There was no reply from the shape, but it was definitely a person.
Hermione moved faster and as she got much closer she realised it was Harry. He was asleep. There was a bag on the floor next to him.
"Harry," Hermione said, shaking Harry's shoulder. He didn't stir but he was breathing incredibly fast.
Hermione crouched down and felt Harry's face. He was freezing cold.
"Harry!" she said a bit louder. Harry blinked his eyes open like a shot.
"Hermione," he replied, his voice shaking as he shivered.
"What are you doing here?" Hermione asked, "it's freezing cold and you're all wet."
"I needed to come and see you."
Hermione stood up and unlocked the door before opening it wide.
"Come on, come inside," Hermione said.
Harry struggled to stand; he was tired, incredibly tired, and found it difficult to move.
"Harry how long have you been sat out there?" Hermione asked, worry lining her voice. She went back outside and grabbed Harry's bag.
"A few hours, I think."
"A few hours?" Hermione cried, "Harry you must be freezing, come on, get upstairs and run yourself a bath, at least get those clothes off!"
"Hermione she left me," Harry gulped.
"Who left you?" Hermione replied, dropping Harry's bag on the carpeted floor.
Hermione blinked and looked at Harry properly for the first time. He looked terrible, and not just because he'd been sat in the cold for hours.
"Oh Harry," Hermione burst, kicking the bag out of the way and pulling him into a hug.
Harry hugged Hermione back and Hermione could feel his heart beating hard against his chest. His hands clung to the back of her still slightly damp t-shirt and his head buried into her shoulder.
"She walked out," Harry whispered, "I didn't know what to do."
"It's okay," Hermione replied, feeling her own voice shake a little.
"Why would she leave me Hermione?"
"I don't know."
Harry let go of Hermione and stepped back.
"I need that bath," he gulped, "please."
"Of course, upstairs, I'll make you a cup of tea."
Harry nodded and headed up the staircase.
Hermione took a deep breath and headed into the kitchen.
Ginny had left Harry. He was upstairs. She was god knows where. George was at his flat. Hugo and Rose were at The Burrow. It was up to Hermione to sort things out.
Harry had come looking for a friend and for the rest of the night that is what she would be.
Hermione flicked on the kettle.
George pushed his hands through his hair before turning on the shower, watching as it blasted out hot water. He got in and let the water wash over him.
Hermione had left quickly, leaving George to his own devices. He wasn't sure where they stood.
For a moment he'd thought Hermione had given up, when she'd dropped her wand and her shoulders had slouched, but that didn't seem the case. He should never have thought that anyway, Hermione Granger giving up would be absurd.
Dumbledore. That's who George had compared Hermione too. He was sure he was right as well, she was that great. No, she would never give up on anything.
The doorbell rang. Hermione didn't have any clue who it could be, especially at this hour, so she took her wand from the table before heading out to answer it.
She pulled the door open an edge, the lock still on the door, and was greeted by a red headed woman wearing a large anorak.
"Hermione," Ginny gulped, "is...is Harry here?"
"Ginny," Hermione said, surprised, "what are you doing here?"
"I came to see Harry," Ginny repeated.
"I'm sorry, you can't, he's upset Ginny, you should leave it until the morning."
"Please Hermione you've got to understand that I didn't mean what I said, it just got a bit too much, James was misbehaving and Albus had broken four of our best plates, I just burst!"
"Try telling Harry that."
"Don't treat me like I'm the bad guy here Hermione, I'm not."
Hermione faltered. As far as she could see Ginny was the bad guy, she was as bad as George as far as she was concerned, Ginny had hurt Harry without any thought, she'd torn him down in a few mere seconds.
"I'm sorry Ginny, I won't let you in, I've had a rough night myself and I know Harry isn't in the right mood to listen to your apology, come back in the morning and my door will be open."
Ginny stepped forward so her eye peered through the crack in the door.
"I need to see him," Ginny said desperately.
"He's having a bath."
"Call him down."
"Can you not even tell him I came by?"
"Sorry Ginny I can't, he wouldn't want that."
"How would you know what he wants?" Ginny burst all of a sudden, "I'm his wife, not you! You have no right to stand between Harry and me!"
Hermione felt her cheeks flush with anger. She slammed the door closed, unhooked the catch and then pulled the door open again.
"I know Harry better than anybody!" Hermione growled, "better than you, better than Molly, even better than Ron did, just because you're his wife doesn't mean he tells you everything!"
"How dare you!" Ginny cried, her face contorting with shock, "how dare you speak to me like that! You're my friend Hermione!"
"Yes, and as your friend I am telling you to back away and go home because Harry does not want to see you right now!"
"Oh you think you're so bloody great, don't you?" Ginny said venomously, "Head of Magical Law Enforcement flaunting her power again. You think you know everything and you don't! Hermione Granger the brightest witch of her age, part of the legendary Golden Trio itself, but she didn't get the main man, did she? She didn't get Harry Potter and so she settled for Harry Potter's best friend instead!"
Hermione blinked and felt her hand clench tighter around her wand, her jaw set.
"I'm sorry, what did you say?" Hermione breathed, her eyebrow arching.
"You heard what I said," Ginny replied, "I know you've always been jealous of me Hermione, you always wanted Harry but I got there first, and now you're swooping in to claim your prize."
"Harry is my best friend," Hermione growled dangerously, "and never once have I thought of him as more than just my best friend, so would you stop being so bloody paranoid, get off my doorstep and go home whilst I try and repair what you broke."
Ginny stepped back, affronted. She stuttered for a moment, debating on what to say, but words failed her.
"Bye Ginny," Hermione finished and, without waiting to watch Ginny leave, Hermione returned back inside, slamming the door shut behind her.
Hermione took a deep breath, calming herself and letting her anger wash away before she went to speak to Harry. Once Hermione felt she'd gotten back a level head she climbed the stairs. The bathroom door was open a crack.
"Harry?" Hermione questioned.
"Come in," Harry replied.
Hermione edged forward and pushed open the door. Harry was sat on the floor with his head between his knees, his hair was still wet and he was wearing some of Ron's old pyjamas. Hermione assumed he must have gotten them from the cupboard but she took no notice and didn't question him. She sat down next to him and took up the position of staring into space, her knees tucked up against her chest with her back against the wall.
"Do you ever wonder if there's any point?" Harry murmured after a moment of silence, the only sound being the water draining from the bath.
"Yes," Hermione nodded, "all the time."
"I feel like I'm floating Hermione, high up in the air, with nothing to bring me back down to Earth, like I'll just drift off into space and never come back."
"You need a rock."
Harry pulled his head from between his legs and glanced over at Hermione. Hermione flicked her head round too.
"To weight you, you know, so you can plummet back to Earth, gravity?" Hermione stammered, "you went to Muggle School, surely you know what gravity is?"
"I know what gravity is Hermione," Harry said, a smile creeping at his lips, "and you're right, I do need a rock."
"To bring you back down to Earth," Hermione confirmed, returning her gaze back to the opposite wall.
"Do you think she'll take me back?"
"I don't know Harry, but you should go and see her in the morning, the quicker you do things the better they'll be, I've learnt that the hard way."
"You and George?" Harry blinked.
"Hermione I'm so sorry, I shouldn't have..."
"He didn't know what to say to me," Hermione said, cutting Harry off, "he hadn't seen me for weeks and he had no idea what to say to me, I had to force him to apologise, can you believe that? And to think I wanted to marry him."
"Hang on!" Harry frowned, staring at Hermione with disbelief, "you wanted to marry George?"
"No," Hermione said.
"That's what you just said."
And then the tears came.
Harry broke down into gut wrenching sobs, his whole body shaking as he held his head between his knees and wretched.
Hermione was different. Instead she cried silently, the tears streaming down her face as she stared at the wall and realisation took hold of her.
The room brightened, the morning light flooded through the window, the birds started singing outside and the church bell sounded but still Harry and Hermione sobbed.
In the end they fell into each other, Harry's head on Hermione's lap and Hermione's head against the wall, their tear ducts run dry.
"You said I needed a rock," Harry whispered, his voice hoarse, "but the thing is I've already got one, it's you Hermione, and it's always been you."
Hermione took a deep breath and, with Harry's words echoing in her head; she closed her eyes and fell asleep.
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