Chapter 11 : Domesticated Harmony
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Grumbling to himself he rolled out of bed. As he got himself dressed he again could not help but marvel at this amazing room that he could now call his own. The entire room was about the size of the common room in Gryffindor tower. He had his own bathroom suite attached to the room and had a closet that he was certain that he would never be able to fill. There was a set of French doors that opened up to a small balcony that overlooked dense forest to the south of the house. The room did not have much in the way of decorations, but Alexis had assured him that he could do whatever he wished with the room.
It had been almost two weeks since Snape had brought him Prewett Manor and Alexis had presented him her incredible offer to share her home with him. He had been mildly hesitant at first but had been easily convinced after spending the morning with Alexis. She had given him and Snape a tour of her house and the grounds. Harry had never seen a more amazing house in his life. He had seen over a dozen bedrooms, half as many bathrooms, twenty-one fire places, two sitting rooms, a library that easily dwarfed the one at Hogwarts, a music room complete with a grand piano, a large study with a built in bar and even a sunlit conservatory containing a patio/dining area capable of seating twenty or so comfortably. He had only been half-joking when he had asked if he was going to be getting a map to be able to find his way around.
The manor sat on about ten acres of land surrounded by a dense forest. The property included a pond, an enormous rose garden and even two separate houses. Thus far Harry had spent most of his time outside flying his broomstick. Luckily the nearest muggle was far enough away that there was no risk at him being seen as long as he didn’t fly too high.
Everything might have been completely overwhelming for Harry had it not been for how at ease and relaxed he felt here. He had at first suspected that Alexis had been using her mood spell on him, but had finally concluded that it was simply her. There was just something about her that just made him feel comfortable. She had somehow even managed to make Snape laugh several times which was a complete shock to Harry. He had never seen him in any social situations outside of school, but he felt pretty certain that this behavior had been quite out of the ordinary for him.
Harry walked out of his room and headed down into the dining room where he found Alexis already eating her breakfast and reading the morning edition of “The Daily Prophet”.
“Good morning,” she greeted him. “How did you sleep?”
“Pretty well,” he replied. “I had some dreams, but I still didn’t remember any of them. But I did not feel like they had been anything bad this time.”
“Well that’s a good sign then,” she said.
Harry had been plagued with nightmares since the night that he had moved in which had embarrassingly enough had woken Alexis up despite her bedroom being the farthest away from his. The first night or so, Alexis had come running to his room to make sure that he wasn’t in any danger. She soon became accustomed to his screaming and chose to refrain from running into his room, although several nights he had sworn he had heard the floorboards creaking outside of his room after he had awoken. He had been grateful, however, that she had spared him the humiliation of bursting in on him yet again.
He did have to admit though that it had been rather nice to have someone who had seemed genuinely concerned about him. Never before had anyone ever come to check on him after having a nightmare. Or to have someone who would care enough to ask him about the dreams the next morning over breakfast.
“What’s on your agenda for today?” she asked as Trixie poured him some orange juice.
She asked this every morning and Harry knew that she was hoping to hear something different than flying his broomstick. She had expressed concerns about how isolated he had been. Several times she had encouraged him to go visit his friends or just get away from the house for a while. He had tried explaining to her that he simply did not feel like visiting with anyone and needed some time alone to work some things out.
He did, several days after moving into the manor, venture out to Diagon Alley. It had proven to be quite the disaster. Almost immediately upon arriving he had been overwhelmed with witches and wizards that showered him with their praise and appreciation. It had not taken long before a sizable crown had gathered, which had apparently drawn the attention of some rather angry goblins who had been working on the repairs being made at Gringott’s Bank. The goblins had tried to push their way through the crowd and began shouting that he needed to be arrested and held accountable for the damages he had caused at the bank and for the loss of their dragon.
Thankfully the majority of the crowd that had gathered managed to keep the goblins away from Harry but that was only because they had been pushing forward themselves trying to get his autograph and stuff. Finally he had felt someone tugging on his arm and found one of his former classmates Cormac McLaggen trying to pull him through the crowd. Harry had formed an almost instant dislike to him when they had been at school together so he had been hesitant to go with him.
“It’s ok,” Cormac had said. “Let me help you get out of here.” He flicked his wand over his head causing a loud echoing noise to emanate down the alley.
While the crowd cowered distractedly at the unknown origin of the sound, Harry had allowed Cormac to lead him away to a small shop. As he ducked inside he recognized the name Twilfitt and Tatting's, an upscale wizarding clothing shop that Harry had never visited before. Once inside Harry realized that the shop from the outside had appeared to be windowless, but now from the inside he saw that the shop windows were charmed to act like some kind of one-way glass. Harry had able to watch as the crowd as they scrambled past trying to figure out where he had gone.
“Antoinette, I’m so sorry to have burst in here. Poor Harry here was getting mobbed by a crowd. Do you think he could use your floo?” Cormac was saying to an older attractive woman with a measuring tape draped across her shoulders.
“But of course,” the woman said with a small bow and gesture towards the stairs in the back of the shop. “Just up the top of the stairs.”
“Hey, thanks man. Things were starting to get ugly out there,” Harry had said awkwardly.
“It’s no problem. I figured I owed you anyways,” he had replied as he stared at his feet.
They had shook hands and Harry had hurried off to the fireplace upstairs, after pausing along the way to check out an amazingly warm looking fur-lined cape, and escaped into the green flames. When he had arrived by at the manor he had been glad to have Alexis there to discuss the distressing events of the day. Since that day he had not had any further interest in trying to interact with the rest of the wizarding world. That was the reason that Alexis asked him every morning what his plans were for the day.
Harry looked up at Alexis and took another bite of his food. “I hadn’t really thought about it actually. I think Ron and Hermione were supposed to have gotten back from Australia yesterday. I suppose I can go visit them. I know Ginny has been sending owling me to wanting to see me. Maybe I can head over to The Burrow and see all of them. I haven’t been over since Fred’s funeral,” he finished in a mumble.
Alexis studied him for a second before saying, “I have another suggestion that might be a little less intimidating. How about you invite them and whomever else you would like, over for dinner tonight? I had told Minerva that I could host a staff meeting here at the manor since we won’t have access to the castle for several more weeks. Since I am most likely the only person who would be able to comfortably fit everyone I and I needed an opportunity to meet everyone I decided to make it a dinner party/staff meeting. I already spoke with Trixie and she said that with the addition of Kreacher on staff she will have more than enough help to prepare a proper dinner, I’m sure she wouldn’t mind preparing a little extra for you and your friends. We can even set up the conservatory for you since I am sure that you all would not want to sit and eat with your teachers,” she finished with a smile.
“That actually sounds perfect,” Harry replied.
As had become usual between them, Alexis had managed to read him almost too accurately. He supposed that other people would have been freaked out by this, but it was surprisingly comforting to Harry. He very much appreciated not having to constantly explain himself and justify his actions. Even during the first few days when they had spent time talking and becoming better acquainted he had never found himself annoyed or bothered by her many questions about his life or his past. Somehow he doubted that he would feel the same way if it had been most anyone except for Alexis. She had shown nothing but genuine interest and concern and he had never felt that she was judging him or anything.
He was quite curious, however, about why whenever he had tried to ask her about her life or her past, she way very careful to avoid answering him. All he had gotten thus far had been that she had left Europe almost immediately after finishing he NEWTs and worked at a hospital in the States until last year when her help had been needed at St Mungo’s.
He pushed aside his musings about Alexis as he got up from the table. He figured that her past was truly none of his business no matter how curious he was. If she didn’t feel like sharing, who was he to pry? Besides Snape trusted her and right now that was enough for him. With that he headed upstairs to write out three dinner invitations to his friends.
When the owl had arrived at kitchen window of The Burrow, her heart nearly stopped. She couldn’t understand how, but she just knew that this letter was from him. As she took the letter from the bird, she found that her hands were trembling. She felt like it she had been waiting for years rather than weeks to finally here from him, but now that he did contact her she found that she was afraid of what he might say. Would this finally be the explanation she had been asking for as to why he had been avoiding her? Or would he tell her that he no longer wanted her in his life?
As she read the note inviting her to a dinner party along with Ron and Hermione she found her fear and apprehension turned to anger. After nearly a month of her reaching out to him and living in constant worry and heartache for him with no answer besides him pushing her aside and ignoring her, he is just suddenly going to invite her to dinner with his two best friends?! It’s not like he hadn’t just spent the better part of the last year with the two of them, now he needs them there with him to avoid having any one-on-one time alone with her. Were they supposed to be there and act as some kind of buffer between them so he could continue avoiding actually talking with her? Maybe she just wouldn’t go! What would he care?
Yet even as she stared at the note trying to figure out what to should do, she knew that she just had to see him. He needed to see the pain that he was causing her and she needed answers. She would force him to talk with her if he wouldn’t do so willing! She would make sure of that!
The next few hours were spent making sure that she looked as good as could possibly look. She was careful not to look over done, keeping her makeup simple and natural, using a smoothing serum on her hair and tying it back in a simple low braid and choosing a flattering but casual sun dress. Still, standing in the fireplace with a handful of floo powder it took all of her will power just to ease her trembling hands. She had tried to convince herself that she just didn’t care, but had not even come close to believing a word of it.
With a shaky breath she threw down the powder and said, “Prewett Manor.”
When she had stopped spinning and stepped out of the green flames, she noticed immediately that Harry was standing ready to meet her. He took two steps in her direction when she managed to stop him in his tracks with a cold angry glare.
He hung his head and sighed deeply and said, “We need to talk.”
She was a bit taken aback since she had not anticipated him being receptive to a discussion and had prepared a scathing speech to force him to speak with her. Instead she managed a weak nod.
He gestured for her to follow him and he lead her off through the house. As they walked she could not help but stare around in complete awe at the house. It was obviously very old and filed with very expensive antique furniture and ornate paintings. She could never imagine living in a place as vast like this one. Looking around she was pretty convinced that the entire Burrow could easily fit into the foyer that they were not passing through.
“Harry, where are we going?” she asked as they stepped outside onto the front porch at the front of the house.
“I was thinking that we could take a walk around the grounds and talk, but I forgot that it was raining,” he mumbled.
Ginny looked out at the sprawling lawn in front of them and pointed at the gazebo off to the right of the house.
“Let’s go over there,” she suggested.
Harry nodded and then grabbed her hand as they both ran out into the rain. By the time they had run the short distance and stood under the roof of the gazebo they were both completely drenched.
They stood shivering in silence for several long uncomfortable minutes. Ginny was determined to continue studying her feet knowing that she would be unable to maintain composure if she dared look up into the green eyes. Luckily she was spared having to initiate conversation when Harry spoke up first.
“I know that you are angry with me and I don’t blame you. I have been trying to figure out what to say to you, but I am just not good at this stuff,” he said sadly.
“What ‘stuff’ Harry? Being a friend? Not ignoring people who want to do nothing but help you? Or maybe you mean just writing a letter because Merlin knows I sent you plenty of those!” she replied as she felt her anger and resentment rising up once more.
Harry shrugged. “Yea. Maybe all of those. I haven’t even been able to understand what is going on with myself, so I have no idea how to try to explain it to anyone else. Especially you.”
Ginny felt like she had just been slapped. “What do you mean ‘especially me’?! What is so wrong with me that you would imagine that you couldn’t talk to me?!” She knew that her voice was rising and had become high-pitched and shrill very much like her mother’s, but she could not bring herself to even care. “What did I ever do to you to make you feel that way about me?!”
“What? Oh heavens no! That isn’t what I meant at all,” he spluttered in stunned horror. “I only meant that there would be no way that I could ever feel right about dumping my issues on you when you should in every right absolutely hate me for what I have done not only to you, but to your entire family.”
Now it was Ginny’s turn to be confused. “Harry, what it the world are you talking about?”
He stared at her as if trying to find the words before he dropped his eyes and addressed his own feet. “I have done nothing but put you and your family in danger since the day that I met Ron. I have torn your family apart and my own selfish stupidity lead to Fred getting killed in the end. I could have avoided it all had I just snuck into Hogwart’s that night instead of allowing everyone to fight for me. Instead I have spent years hiding behind everyone and watched as all of the people that I ever allowed myself to think of as family die because of me,” he finished with despair.
“You can’t possibly believe that,” she whispered in shock.
He raised his head to look at her and she saw the tears that he was trying desperately to hold back. Her heart nearly broke as she saw the truth swimming in the depth of those green eyes. Unable to contain herself she closed the gap between them and wrapped her arms around him.
“None of that is your fault, Harry. Nobody blames you for anything, especially any of us. How could you even think that? We all knew the risks in what we were getting ourselves into from the very beginning,” she said softly.
“But none of you would have had to get involved at all if I had never come into your lives,” he murmured.
“Think about who you are talking about here. Do you honestly think that mom and dad would have just sat back and watched everything happen without trying to step up and help? They would have gone to Dumbledore and begged to help even if we had never known you,” she said as she gently pushed Harry back so that she could look at him. “I know that there have been so many horrible things that have happened in the past few years, but you must see that we finally have the chance to start over. Thanks to you the entire wizarding world can finally being to relax and live their lives. And that includes you too. Of course it will take time to come to terms with everything, but you can’t just push everyone out of your life and become a hermit. There are people who care about you and love you and can’t stand to be without you any longer,” she finished in a pained whisper.
Harry reached up and pushed a strand of wet hair out of her face. “I don’t know what I am doing with anything or where I am supposed to go from here.”
“Let me help you figure it out.”
Harry nodded and pulled her into his arms. “I can’t even tell you how much I missed you. It was absolute torture not knowing how you were or knowing if you were okay. I spent countless night staring at your dot on my map just hoping you were safe. Then when I had heard about you and Neville trying to break into Snape’s office I almost had a heart attack. What were you guys thinking?” he scolded.
“Oh no you don’t!” she said as she pulled herself out of his arms. “How do you think I felt reading about how you barely escaped your little tour of the ministry or about you all breaking into Gringott’s and riding a dragon off into the sunset. Or worst of all…when I saw Hagrid carrying your lifeless body back to the castle and thinking even for a moment that you were dead,” she choked.
Harry looked sheepish and said, “Heh…sorry about that. I had to do something to her Voldemort back to the castle. I had told Ron, Hermione and Neville that the only way to kill him was to kill the snake and needed a way to bring Nagini to them,” he said. “And the dragon needed to be set free from that place anyway. So we were doing it a favor in exchange for getting us out of there. Besides, you know we would have never heard the end of it from Hermione if we had left it in that place. As it is, I cannot be sure that she won’t be forming a Dragon Liberation Foundation or something after that whole thing,” he continued with a hint of humor.
Ginny began laughing with Harry and quickly found that she was unable to stop. She knew that they were both laughing to hard and loud for what his joke had warranted, but she allowed the childish giddiness overwhelm her. For the first time in a very long time she felt as though everything in the world was finally clicking right into place. It was truly the best feeling ever.
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