‘Facilis descensus Averno; sed ad auras evadere est Labor!’
~Going to Hell is easy; it’s coming back that’s hard! ~
Virgil, Aeneid, VI, 126
Ginny raced down the hall to where Harry lying on the floor. He was only wearing boxers and she could see his ribs and collarbone sticking out. She knelt next to him and checked him for a pulse. It was faint but steady.
She let out a breath that she didn’t know she was holding. Suddenly she heard George running into the house and up the stairs. Ron was right behind him.
“Bloody hell! What happened?” George asked as he conjured a stretcher.
“He’s got a pulse but…look at him I don’t think he has been eating…” she said quietly.
“Bullocks. Bloody git,” Ron muttered as he helped George move Harry on to the stretcher.
“OK, wait here, I need to get in touch with Dumbledore.” George ran back down the stairs disappeared out the front door.
Ginny was crying again as she gently smoothed the messy black hair from Harry’s forehead. Ron just stared at his best friend lying on the stretcher.
“Ron?” Ginny whispered, “Why does he do this? Doesn’t he know that we all love him and this hurts us too?”
Ron looked thoughtful for a moment. “Gin…Harry doesn’t understand that people can love him. He’s been told since he was a year old that no one could possibly love him and that he’s a freak and that he’s worthless. He had that kind of rubbish poured into his head for so long that…that I don’t know if he will ever really believe differently. I know that he loves us all…but…he just can’t understand why we would love him back. I would follow the git to the gates of hell and beyond and he would fight me the whole way trying to protect me. That’s who he is. Did you know he felt guilty that you wound up in the Chamber?”
Ginny silently shook her head.
Ron sadly nodded. “He did. He really believed that it was his fault that Malfoy put that damned diary in your cauldron. He said that he should have noticed that something was wrong with you that year…that he should have been able to stop it somehow. I think…no, I know that he has never let go of that guilt, or any other guilt for that matter. I think that’s why he has so many nightmares.”
“I didn’t know that he had nightmares. I mean everyone has nightmares sometimes, but…”
“Try every night. One of the first spells that Neville really got good at was a silencing spell. Neville, Dean, and Seamus all put them up every night so they can get some sleep. Don’t tell Harry that. He would probably leave school if he knew that, just so that he wouldn’t bother anyone.”
Ginny sighed and continued playing with the unconscious boy’s hair. “You know you aren’t the only one that would follow him anywhere.” Ron looked at her intently. “And no I’m not talking about that stupid crush either. Tonks, Hermione and I talked about that last summer. We were talking about Harry and how bad he felt after he saw Cedric die and she said that he was probably going to see a lot more death. Hermione got really quiet and I asked why. She said that Harry had something about him that made people want to follow him and then she said the same thing that you just did. She said that she would be there no matter what happened or where he went.” Ginny paused and let out a breath. “She said she would gladly give her life for him. And…so would I.”
Ron’s face softened and he hugged his sister. “You know that I would. Hell, I already tried back in first year. I know that Hermione would too…” He looked thoughtful for a second. “You know…it’s probably a good thing that Harry has this guilt thing. Otherwise he could set himself up like Vold…like you-know-who.”
Ginny just nodded. “Hey what happened to George?”
They both looked down the hallway. George was standing there watching them.
“Fred and I will be there too…at the gates of hell, I mean.” For one of the few times in his life he looked absolutely serious.
The three Weasleys stood looking at each other for a second then one by one they nodded as if silently making a pact to protect the boy-on-the-stretcher, whether he wanted it or not. George walked up to Harry and set battered old teapot on his chest. He reached out and touched it and looked at the other two. They both touched it and soon felt the familiar tug behind their navels.
Molly Weasley was busy doing laundry when she heard the fireplace roar. Quickly she ran down to the living room to see who was flooing her. As she rounded the corner she saw a familiar face and beard in the fire.
“Albus? Is something wrong? What is it?” The Weasley family matriarch grasped her hands together and began kneading them to hide the fact that she had started shaking. Ever since the boggart last summer she dreaded hearing from the esteemed headmaster.
“Calm down Molly, everyone’s safe. Ron and Ginny discovered Harry unconscious at Privet Drive this morning. And he is now here at Hogwarts under Madam Pomfrey’s care. It seems that he hadn’t been eating. Most likely since Sirius died two weeks ago. Ron and Ginny are here with him, but as soon as he is released I would like for him to go to Grimmauld place for the rest of the summer…”
“Do you think…was it…did he try…” Her hand went to her mouth and she gasped. “Was it a suicide attempt?” She whispered at last.
Dumbledore sighed and looked his considerable age. “Molly, please don’t misunderstand me. While he very well could have died had Ron and Ginny not shown up within the next few days, I do not believe that this was an intentional suicide attempt.” Molly let out the breath that she had been holding. “However, I do not think that this would be a good time for him to be alone.”
“Of course I will get some things together…”
“Molly, I don’t believe that there is much for you to do there. Once again, please do not misunderstand me, Harry will need mothering. But right now I believe that he might resent that. I feel that right now he has more need of his friends than of a mother. I would like to have Ron and Ginny accompany him, if that is acceptable to you.”
Molly Weasley sat down on the edge of a chair next to the fire. “What about supervision?”
“I have been able to secure Nymphadora Tonks as a guard for Harry for the remainder of the holiday. I feel that she is sufficiently close to Harry’s age so as to lessen the chances that of his resenting her. Also Remus Lupin will be there most of the time. I am hoping that they will be able to help each other.” Molly was aware that Sirius’ death had hit Remus Lupin almost as hard it had hit Harry. “I have also contacted Miss Granger and while I am aware that she does not count as supervision she is the one that seems to…ahh…keep their group firmly anchored. I believe that she is a positive influence on the others.” Professor Dumbledore’s eyes had their characteristic twinkle.
Molly sat silently for a few moments thinking about the young man she had come to love as a son. “Are you certain that he doesn’t need me, Albus?”
“Quite the contrary Molly. He needs you very much; however, right now I do not believe that he would accept help from you, or me. He is very, very angry with me right now, for good reason I might add.” Again, the venerable professor looked his age. “He feels that I have betrayed his trust and lied to him. I will be honest with you, Molly, I have never regretted anything more than I have regretted placing Harry with his Aunt and Uncle. In my defense I did have Harry’s best interests at heart; however if I had it to do over again I would have raised him myself. Right now, I believe that it is in Harry’s best interest for his friends to help him out and teach him that he is worthy of love and friendship.”
“Teach him…does Harry believe that he doesn’t deserve love? I know that he had a bad childhood but…how bad was it, Albus?” Inside she wasn’t really sure that she wanted to know the answer to that question.
“Molly, that is a question that only Harry can answer, but it is much worse than even I know. Now I need to get back, can I assume that I may tell Ron and Ginny?”
“Yes, you can. I do want to talk to them for a few minutes.”
“Of course, they will be there shortly to get their clothes and books. Also, I am going to be starting a special program of study for Harry. May I include Ron and Ginny as well?”
“Certainly professor, I will talk to you later?” Molly rose from her seat and moved to sit on the sofa.
“I look foreword to it as always. And Molly, thank you.” With a slight pop the professor’s head disappeared.
Molly Weasley sat for a few minutes considering the boy that was Harry Potter. She knew so little about him really. Aside from what Ron had told her and the few days that she had observed him during the holidays she really knew nothing more than the rest of the Order knew about him. Every witch and wizard knew of him of course. But really how many people truly knew Harry Potter? She resolved that she would become more than a mother figure to him, she would try and become his friend and love him in any way possible.
Tears were falling unheeded down her face when the fire roared again and her daughter stepped out of the hearth. Immediately she went to her mother and threw her arms around her. Sobs escaped from both of them and as Ron arrived he came and put his arms around the two of them. They sat together for a while as the two women got themselves under control.
“Mum?” Ron’s voice was muffled by Mrs. Weasley’s shoulder. “I just wanted to say thanks.”
“For what, dear?” She released her youngest son and daughter and stood up wiping her face on her apron.”
Ron also stood and gave his mother another hug. “For loving us, mum. I really don’t know how Harry dealt with that all those years. I don’t know how he still deals with it.”
Ginny came around her mother and wrapped her brother in a hug. She sniffled into his chest. Their mother gave them another hug. There was really nothing to say to that.