A/N Thanks to the usual crew on this: Nat, Sarah, Missie, and Leslie. Three cheers to Sarah who managed seven exams in twenty one days and still found time to beta for me *hugs*
The third and final part is almost finished.
Harry awoke the next morning feeling surprisingly
refreshed and in a better mood than he had been for weeks. He lay on
his bed for a while, watching the dust motes playing in the early
morning rays of sunshine as he replayed the events of the last few
weeks in his mind. Reviewing his actions, he came to the
conclusion that he had been so selfish and stupid. He knew now how he
should have responded to the visit of his old professor last night and
was full of remorse as he recalled how his cold indifference had
reduced Remus Lupin to tears. He now bitterly regretted how he’d
ignored the urging of his heart and had remained aloof from the obvious
cry for help.
Ginny was right, he reflected. I am a heartless bastard.
tried his best not to retreat back into his shell in the face of such a
depressing conclusion. Deep within, the misery that had been his friend
for so long clawed at his heart, desperately trying to reclaim him, but
in contrast to the rest of his summer holiday something within him
refused to let him slide back into despair. Instead, a sadness at the
callousness of his actions swept over him and he found himself crying
once more. Not tears of self pity but tears of sorrow as he wept over
the lives he had blighted by his behaviour.
tears subsided and he found himself able to view his situation with
more detachment. It was at times like this that Harry knew how much he
had come to depend on Hermione and her ability to see the wood for the
trees. But was he ready for her oh so practical solution? Perhaps he
should ask Ginny for help? You’ve no chance there, Potter; she wouldn’t give you the time of day.
Ron? No, Ron had his own problems following his experiences at The
Ministry and Harry doubted that he would feel up to helping him. Looks like you’re on your own with this one, Potter.
reached that conclusion, the question was what he should do about it.
He could go up to everyone and apologise to them one by one. The
problem with that was that he wasn’t convinced that they would accept
his apology. The alternative was to say nothing but just be a bit
better behaved. In time perhaps people’s attitude towards him might
change and he’d be off the hook. In truth, he didn’t know what to
Well, whatever you do, Harry, you need to find Remus and talk to him. If there’s one person who deserves an apology, it’s him.
his concerns, Harry found that his lighter mood gave him a good amount
of energy and he had a spring in his step as he got out of his bed and
headed for the shower. He closed his eyes, placed his hands on the wall
and stood under the wide metal shower head, enjoying the sensation of
the hot water cascading over him. The washing in water completed the
act of cleansing begun with his tears, and as the steam filled the
bathroom he felt himself relax and he was filled with the knowledge
that somehow this would all work itself out.
When he finally
emerged into the kitchen, he found Ron, Ginny and Hermione sitting at
the table eating their breakfasts. As he paused on the bottom step he
took the opportunity to observe them. Their animated conversation was
punctuated by bites of toast, spoonfuls of cereal and gulps of tea. He
assumed that they were talking about him, a fact confirmed by the
cessation of their conversation as soon as they became aware of his
presence. All three of them turned to stare at him, and he felt their
eyes boring into him.
He shuffled uneasily, conscious of the
awkward silence. He returned their stares, searching for a degree of
compassion, but found none. Oh well, this is going to be worse than I thought it was going to be.
“Hi,” he said nervously. “Everyone sleep well?”
None of them spoke, choosing instead to exchange knowing glances with each other.
Unperturbed, Harry continued. “When did you get here, Hermione?”
arrived last night, if you must know,” she said putting her mug of tea
on the table and glowering at him. “With Professor Lupin,” she
“Ah, yes… Remus,” he replied, apologetically
lowering his gaze in recognition of his behaviour. “I wanted to say
something about that.”
“Well it’s a bit late, isn’t it,
Harry?” replied Hermione getting to her feet. “You had your chance last
night. I’m disgusted with you.” The tone of her voice and the hardness
of her stare left Harry in no doubt as to how she felt about him.
Before he had a chance to reply, she left the table and stormed out
into the garden, slamming the door behind her. Harry watched her go,
wondering if he had any chance to make things up with her.
turned back to the table in time to see Ginny draining the last dregs
from her glass of milk and Ron stuff a thickly sliced piece of toast
into his mouth. Obviously they had had enough of him, too.
I said,” continued Harry nervously. He ran his fingers through his
still damp hair letting them slide down the back of his head and then
rest on his neck. He began rubbing his neck, his unease apparent.
Finally he decided that it was time to nail his courage to the sticking
post and speak.
“I wanted to…” he stumbled over his words as
they both looked at him with contempt. “I wanted to say something about
last night,” he continued forcing himself to stay rather than run,
“well, about everything since I’ve been here.”
Harry,” replied Ginny, her voice bitter and cold. “We’ve all had enough
with you and your self-centred, narcissistic ways.” She slipped off her
seat and stood hands on hips, her body quivering with rage. “Last
night,” she began, pointing an accusatory finger at him, “last night
was the last straw.” She paused, her voice trembling as she struggled
to remain calm. “Remus came to you,” she sniffed as the first tear
fell, “looking for help and all you could do was to think of what was
good for selfish old Harry Potter.” Her tears were in full flow as she
gave full vent to the anger and frustration that she felt. “You’re on
your own from now on, on your own.” She stared at him, tears of rage
running down her face as if daring him to disagree.
was stunned. He had expected this to be hard, but this… this was
impossible. It would be easier to get Snape to play Father Christmas
than to get his friends to forgive him.
Ginny shoved her chair
under the table and walked off towards the back door. She stopped,
looked back over her shoulder and then, shaking her head, she opened
the door and disappeared into the garden.
Through the open
door Harry could hear the sounds of summer as the bees buzzed from
flower to flower searching for the precious nectar. How he envied their
simple life and how he wished he could just fly away from his troubles.
He allowed his thoughts to drift back to the uncomfortable silence that
hung over he and Ron like a death sentence. Despite his earlier
optimism, Harry could feel his nerve slipping and it was all he could
do to stop himself from running away.
Harry looked at Ron as
his friend continued to eat. They had been through so much together.
Since their first meeting, they had survived everything that the world
could throw at them. Was this the day it all ended? Was this the
parting of the ways?
“And what about you, Ron?” said Harry slowly, not really wanting an answer to his question. “Have you given up on me too?”
took a bite from his toast and looked at his friend. “Given up is a bit
strong, Harry.” He leaned over and picked a piece of uneaten toast off
of Hermione’s plate and placed it on his own. “I have run out of
patience though, I think we all have. You’re not the only one who’s
hurting and it’s about time you realised that.” Harry was relieved to
hear that there was none of the anger or bitterness in Ron’s voice that
had characterised the girls’ tirades. Perhaps, there was hope for him
“I know, Ron,” he said finally taking a seat at the table
and nicking the pilfered piece of toast off of Ron’s plate. “I think,”
he said taking a bite, “last night shocked me into realising that.
Remus looked so, so ill. He’s really missing Sirius, isn’t he?”
picked the remaining piece of toast off Hermione’s plate, folded it in
half and shoved it in his mouth. “We all are, Harry,” he said, his
voice muffled by the slice of toast that he was chewing. “He was the
one grown-up who didn’t seem to think that we needed to be kept in the
dark all the time. Remus hasn’t got a lot going for him, being a
werewolf and all. Sirius was a link to a time when his life was at its
best. Your mum and dad were alive and the Marauders were still
together. Having him come back only to be snatched away from him was a
very heavy blow.” Ron picked up his mug and washed the remains of the
bread down with the dregs of his tea.
“So how are you doing,
Ron?” Harry was suddenly and painfully conscious that he had been so
self-absorbed, that he had no idea how his friend was faring after the
events at the end of last term.
“I’m not doing too badly,
Harry.” He put his mug down and let out a long sigh. “Each day gets a
little better, mate. Each time I wake up I feel a little more like
myself and that has to be a good thing.” He gave Harry a small smile
for which he was extremely grateful.
“Having Hermione here will certainly help,” smirked Harry.
“I suppose it will,” said Ron, smiling but refusing to be drawn.
have to get on, Harry; I’ve got things to do. I’m glad you’ve finally
decided to grow up a bit, but you have burnt a lot of bridges and
you’ve got a lot of fences to mend.” Ron stood up and shoved his chair
under the table. “Ginny in particular is still very angry with you, so
tread carefully there.”
“Yeah, I gathered as much; I’ll do my
best, Ron.” Although Harry knew that talking to Ginny would not be
easy, he allowed a brief smile to cross his lips.
Ron eyed him
suspiciously for a moment before continuing. “But you could start with
Mum. She’s always believed that us kids should be kept out of the war
as much as possible. The fact that we were battling Voldemort and his
Death Eaters in the Ministry of Magic is something she finds very hard
to deal with.”
“You’re right, Ron. Thanks for sticking with me.”
moved away from the table, placed his hand on Harry’s shoulder, looked
him in the eye and smiled. “No problems, mate, just don’t do it again,
that’s all I ask.”
Harry was tempted to give Ron a hug in
return but settled instead for returning the redhead’s gesture. “I’ll
try not to,” he smiled.
Ron headed towards the fireplace, picked up a handful of Floo powder before turning back towards his friend.
is out shopping but she should be back soon. I’m not sure if you and
Ginny are still on house-elf duty but I’m sure Mum will let you know.
There’s plenty of bread if you want some more toast, and the tea in the
pot will still be hot. Might be a little stewed though. See you later,
“Yeah, see you, Ron.”
Harry watched as Ron Flooed to Ninety-Three, Diagon Alley before returning to the matter in hand.
Well, he thought while cutting himself a couple of slices of wholemeal, that
could have gone better, but at least Ron is still talking to me. Still,
I ought to get on with it. If I’ve got to apologise to a lot of people
I’d better make a start.
After wolfing down his toast
Harry wandered out into the garden looking for the two girls. To his
disappointment, Hermione was nowhere to be seen. He didn’t for one
moment believe that dealing with her would be any easier than dealing
with Ginny, but at least he could argue logically with her. He wasn’t
sure that Ginny would be ready even to listen to him and for some
reason he felt that he had let her down more than the others. Why this
was, he wasn’t sure; after all, Ron and Hermione had stuck with him
through thick and thin and it had taken Ginny until her fourth year to
be able to talk in his presence. But it had been her that had reached
out to him when he’d first arrived and it was with her that he’d made
such a connection. Perhaps that was why she had got so angry with him.
was in her usual haunt under the oak tree. Girding his loins for the
battle that must surely happen, Harry took a deep breath and walked
towards her. He stopped about ten yards from where she sat and took a
few moments to observe her.
She was engrossed in the same
book when they’d last met under the tree, and the same pantomime was
being played out in front of him. Harry watched as her teeth once again
nibbled her bottom lip as she forced herself to memorise the contents
of the page. He ran his finger absentmindedly across his own lip as he
watched, transfixed by her. Her small frame radiated magical energy and
Harry felt himself drawn to the power she exuded. As if seeing her for
the first time, he was struck by the flaming red hair that flowed down
her back stopping just short of her slim hips. He gazed upon her pale,
almost translucent skin, fascinated by the light dusting of pale brown
freckles that adorned it. Harry felt that he had had a veil lifted from
his eyes. For so many years her body had been hidden from him under her
less-than-flattering hand-me-down robes that constituted her school
wardrobe. And now, as she sat in the shade under the oak tree in a
simple, powder-blue summer dress, he realised that on the eve of her
sixteenth birthday the little girl who had waved to him at Kings Cross
had grown up. Harry swallowed nervously as it dawned on him the
implications of the attraction he felt.
“Staring again, Potter? Anyone would think you were raised without any manners.”
question jolted him from his contemplations before he’d been able to
think through the ramifications of the emotions that he was feeling. He
glanced at her nervously and tried to find a suitably brash riposte to
her question. When he didn’t reply Ginny looked up from her studying
and fixed him with an uncompromising stare, anger burning in her eyes.
Rather than being intimidated or angered, all Harry could think of was
how her eyes shone when she was angry.
“My mother told me I
should apologise to you, say sorry for hitting you. But I refused,
because I don’t regret one word I said to you. In fact I’d have said a
lot more if I hadn’t let my temper get the better of me. That’s the one
thing I regret.”
She continued to stare, as if daring him to
contradict her. He watched her small mouth twitch as the anger she felt
smouldered. He knew he should respond to her, but it was all he could
do to stop himself being overwhelmed by the attraction he now felt for
He had to laugh at the irony of it all. Here was the girl
who had been so smitten with him that she couldn’t even speak in his
presence, tearing into him and all he could do was gawp like a lovesick
teenager. Eventually he spoke.
“Have you finished?” he asked calmly. “Because if you have…”
“No,” she interrupted, “I haven’t.”
“Ginny,” he pleaded, “if you’d just let me explain…”
There’s nothing to explain, is there, Harry? It’s all very obvious,
isn’t it? You’ve been a prat. End of story.” She smiled smugly at him,
happy that he couldn’t repudiate her.
Harry returned her
smile shaking his head slightly. Her dogmatism would have won her a
place in the most evangelical of gatherings and was unbecoming of a
girl, no woman, he corrected himself, that had shown herself to be anything but that.
not fair,” he said slowly, distracted by the way she flicked her head
to rearrange her red mane. “You really have no idea…”
idea?” she laughed sarcastically. “Of what? What, in the whole of God’s
green earth, could possibly explain the way you’ve been treating
everyone? What possible set of circumstances could explain, let alone
justify the way you treated Remus last night?”
Her book had
dropped to the floor and Harry could see from the way her body was
shaking that she was still having trouble in controlling her emotions.
I tried to tell you earlier, Ginny…” he wanted to tell her just to shut
up, but he was anxious to avoid a repeat of what had happened last
time. And besides, he so much wanted to be in her good books.
should have seen him when he left The Burrow.” She jabbed the air as
she spoke to emphasise her words. “It was heartbreaking! I can’t
imagine any excuse for treating him that way!” She slumped back against
the trunk and let out an exasperated sigh.
Okay, he thought, I’ve tried to keep calm, I’ve tried to be reasonable and where has it got me?
“Well, if you’d just shut it for five minutes and let me finish a sentence, you might find out!”
She sat up smartly and glared at him angrily.
“Don’t you raise your voice to me, Harry Potter!”
hell, Ginny! If you’d let me get a word in edgeways, I’ve been trying
to explain! I know that Remus didn’t deserve for me to treat him badly.
I honestly didn’t want to hurt him.”
Harry began pacing back
and forth, glancing nervously at Ginny as he spoke. When he’d left the
kitchen he thought that all that he had at stake was her friendship,
but now he realised that there was more at risk than that. There was a
connection he felt with her, one that he experienced with no one else,
even Ron and Hermione. Something about her resonated deep inside of
him, something that scared him but also excited him. The fact that he
now found himself attracted to her was an added bonus.
don’t want to hurt anyone, honestly I don’t. But, no one seems to
understand what I’ve been through… what I have to do.” He paused for a
moment as he struggled to find the words to express himself.
stopped pacing and gazed off into the distance unable to face her as he
spoke. He caught site of a sparrowhawk as it hovered above a distant
spinney waiting for its prey.
“Everyone seems to expect me to
live with the weight of the Wizarding world on my shoulders as if I
haven’t a care…” His voice drifted off into silence as he felt
the burden placed on him by Trelawney’s prophecy once again.
one with the power to vanquish the Dark Lord approaches…born to those
who have thrice defied him, born as the seventh month dies…and the Dark
Lord will mark him as his equal, but he will have power the Dark Lord
knows not… and either must die at the hand of the other for neither can
live while the other survives…the one with the power to vanquish the
Dark Lord will be born as the seventh month dies…
"And I suppose that it all comes down to you and no one else!" she sneered.
ignored her accusation. He was lost in his own world reliving the scene
in Dumbledore’s office when the Headmaster had revealed the truth to
him. In the blue expanse above, the bird of prey dropped from the sky,
its next meal sighted.
“I never asked for any of this,” he
said, staring at where the hawk had disappeared into the trees and
slowly shaking his head. “I didn’t ask to be a part of any bloody
prophecy, or be responsible for Voldemort’s fate!”
The bird was in the air again; this time a small bird hung from its sharp beak, its brief life ended.
snapped her mouth closed and stared at Harry. “What do you mean by
that, Harry? What about the prophecy?” she asked in a low, suspicious
Harry stopped, pulled back to reality by what she said.
It took him a few moments to recover his composure, by which time he
realised that he had said too much.
“Nothing, Ginny,” he replied quickly. “Nothing at all.”
hadn’t meant to reveal anything about the prophecy and he now quickly
tried to think of a way to back out of this conversation.
didn’t mean anything by it. Look, I know I’ve been a moron. I am sorry
that I’ve taken my grief over Sirius out on everyone. That’s what I’ve
been trying to tell you. I want to try to make it up to you, and to
Remus, and to everyone else. Will you give me a chance?”
regarded Harry suspiciously for several moments before replying, “I
don’t know what is going on with you, Harry.” With a soft shake of her
head and a sigh, she continued, “I’ve always been willing to give you a
chance, but this is definitely the last time.”
The look on her
face told Harry that she didn’t really believe him, but she was
prepared to back off for a while until he was ready to reveal more.
wandered over to the tree and sat down next to her, wondering what he
could say to take the conversation in another direction. Ginny didn’t
help him either; she picked up her book and began to read. Soon she was
lost to him as the intricacies of Ordinary Wizarding Level Charms
Harry was glad for the space and the silence.
It allowed him to ponder on the two conundrums before him. How did he
tell his friends about the prophecy when he hadn’t come to terms with
it himself yet? And who was this young woman that had sparked such a
connection within him?
On the face of it, the prophecy part
was easy: work out what he was going to do about it and then tell them.
Easy in theory, but in practise? He couldn’t just casually drop it into
the conversation one day when playing chess with someone. Perhaps he
should start by telling Ginny. He’d almost blurted out the truth
anyway. She was an intelligent witch; it wouldn’t take her long to work
it all out, if he knew her. And then there was Ginny herself. How did
he even begin to understand what was happening to him now?
“Harry… Harry? Are you still with us?” she asked, a small grin creeping across her face.
“Sorry, Ginny, I was just thinking,” he replied sheepishly.
if you can drag yourself away from whatever was so entertaining, I
could do with some help here.” She pointed to the page in front of her
and Harry watched as the wizard in the diagram demonstrated the correct
way to perform a conjuring charm. Not too difficult, he thought, but tough nonetheless.
He moved closer to her and leaned forward to get a better look. As he
did so he realised that as well as giving him a better view of the
spell book, it also afforded him an unrestricted view of her cleavage.
to keep his eyes on the book and not the soft mounds of flesh that
tried their best to distract him, he began to offer his advice.
listened half-heartedly as Harry spoke. His words were punctuated with
frequent pauses as if his mind was elsewhere. In truth, she was not
really concentrating on what he was saying anyhow. She was more
concerned with what he had said about the prophecy. Although he’d
backtracked quickly, she was certain that he had told her that the
prophecy had to do with him and Voldemort. Okay, she thought, no great revelation; Hermione had worked that much out.
But what intrigued her was Harry seemed to be implying that only he
could vanquish the Dark Lord. And this wasn’t the boastful,
self-centred Harry she’d raged against. No, this was a reluctant,
scared Harry who’d like nothing better than to crawl away to a nice
safe place and let Dumbledore and the Order deal with everything.
Suddenly, Ginny felt that she understood what he’d been going through
and why he’d been in such a bad mood. Not only had he the loss of
Sirius to deal with, but he’d discovered that the weight of the
Wizarding world was upon his shoulders. Poor Harry! She felt awful that
she’d been so hard on him. The problem was how did she let him know
that she knew, without letting him know?
was enjoying himself. He’d finally managed to persuade his eyes that
the book was more interesting than trying to work out where her
freckles ended, and had begun to enjoy the normality of the situation.
Here, he could be a teenage boy, helping a friend, who also happened to
be, he conceded without much persuasion, more than pleasing on the eye.
carried on talking: first about the charm, then about Quidditch and
then about anything and everything. Harry found that Ginny had a wicked
sense of humour and they spent a good half hour plotting their revenge
against Snape for all the unjust points he deducted from Gryffindor.
The time passed all too quickly for Harry and when Mrs Weasley popped
her head out of the door to announce that lunch would be ready in
twenty minutes, he reluctantly decided that now was a good time to
leave so that he an opportunity to speak to her.
“I have to go now, Ginny,” he said reluctantly.
stood up and stuffed his hands deep in his pockets then gave her a weak
smile in the process. “Yeah, I… er… I have to get some things done
“Oh… okay, Harry, if you must.” Did he detect a hint of disappointment in her voice?
“Well, yeah I have to… well… you know…” He turned away from her and began the slow walk back towards the house.
was torn. The last thing he wanted to do was leave her. This had been
the most enjoyable part of his holiday. For once the world felt how it
should be and for a few short hours he’d felt like Harry Potter rather
than The Boy-Who-Lived. More importantly, the darkness that had hovered
over his every thought and emotion since he’d arrived back from
Hogwarts had begun to dissipate. There had been no great flash of
light, no sudden revelation. Harry reflected that despite all the best
efforts of his friends, nothing had worked, and they’d given up on him.
But the time he'd spent with Ginny had changed his perspective. He
didn’t know how he was going to deal with the prophecy, but he knew
that he’d need all the help he could get and that meant getting all his
friends back on his side. If a house is divided against itself, that house cannot stand. Well, when he came calling, Voldemort would find that Harry and his friends would not be divided. Perhaps, he mused, that was the ‘power the Dark Lord knows not…’
he’d been musing, Ginny had joined him and when he looked over his
shoulder for one last look at her he was pleasantly surprised to see
her slight frame so close.
had observed Harry’s changing mood with a sense of pleasure and
nervousness. She was relieved that the darkness that had hung over
Harry had finally begun to lift. She had sensed a new hope begin to
rise in him, and optimism that was as palpable as the despair had been.
But she had also been aware of the effect that he had had on her. For
the first time in nearly eighteen months she’d allowed her true
feelings for Harry to surface. She knew how strong they had been, and
was surprised to find that time had not diminished that. And she was
sure that in some small way, that feeling was reciprocated.
didn’t want to let him go and had got up to follow him instinctively,
knowing that there was perhaps more to be said. He had come so far in
such a short space of time, but she knew if he felt cornered, then he’d
more than likely clam up. She prayed to God that Hermione didn’t
trample over the tender new shoots of hope that were emerging from the
once barren soil. Ginny knew she meant well, but at times Hermione’s
logic was blunter than a rusty axe.
“Okay, Harry,” she said
reluctantly, realising that now was not the time to push him. “I’ll see
you at lunch,” she said lightening her tone. “Don’t eat it all before I
get there,” she giggled. She gave him a reassuring hug and a small peck
on the cheek before walking back to the oak tree, sitting down and
picking up her book.
Ginny. I’ll see you later, eh?” He watched her walk back to the oak
tree with a new sense of appreciation. He took in the gentle swaying of
her hips and the glint of sunlight on the ankle bracelet she was
wearing. He allowed a gentle smile to cross his lips as he turned
towards the house and his meeting with Mrs Weasley.