It had been two months since her mother’s funeral. Two months of agony and pain. Two months of trying to find her centre after it had been knocked askew with such violence.
Two months and she still felt so lost.
She wondered if that feeling would ever go away.
Her friends had all come to see her the day of her mother’s funeral. Susan had arrived not long after Ernie, but Justin hadn’t been able to get there until a few hours after the funeral had concluded. They’d been such a comfort to her then.
They were still a comfort to her now, even though they were all back at Hogwarts continuing their studies. They might not be with her physically, but she received letters from them constantly. The letters told of the goings-on at Hogwarts, of what she was missing. They wrote of mundane things and of subjects of the utmost importance.
It helped her get through the days.
Lately, however, there was something in the letters that made Hannah feel something closer to annoyance. At the end of each letter, her friends all asked the same question. When would Hannah be returning to Hogwarts?
She believed she knew where her friends were coming from; they wanted their friend back, and to be completely honest, she wanted to be with her friends, too.
There was something so final, though, about going back to Hogwarts.
Hannah pulled her coat tighter around her body as she walked outside. There was a fresh coat of snow on the ground and her boots crunched noisily as she walked down to the street to set off for her destination.
It didn’t take her very long to get to where she was going. Three weeks ago, she’d found a shortcut, and ever since she’d taken it, cutting the time in half. It was strange; she’d never thought she would need a shortcut to get to a graveyard.
By the time she reached the church next to her destination, it had started to flurry. Her nose and eyes stung from the cold and the chill was seeping through her boots to her toes. If she was seventeen, she might have done some sort of warming spell.
Then again, maybe she wouldn’t have done.
It was dark out, and the graveyard was quite deserted. Hannah walked slowly through the rows of graves. She kept her head down and tried not to look at any of the headstones. There was only one she had any interest in.
Hannah had taken to spending about an hour a day at her mother’s grave, though she didn’t have a set routine about it, or a set time to visit. She rarely ventured out during the same hour twice in two days. Sometimes it was morning, sometimes the afternoon. Sometimes two or three times in one day. Occasionally, like today, she’d come in the middle of the night.
Her voice sounded weak against the wind that rushed through the trees that stood at the edge of the hallowed ground. It didn’t matter; her Mum could still hear her.
“I got a letter from Susan today,” Hannah said, pulling the folded parchment from her pocket. Holding it in her gloved hands, she frowned. “It’s too dark to read it, but she told me that there’s a Christmas Party that’s going to be held by the new Potions Master, Professor Slughorn. Apparently Ernie really wants to go, and he’s trying to find someone who’s been invited to take him.
“I hope he gets to go,” Hannah added after a moment.
“Dad’s having a rough time again.”
Placing Susan’s letter back in her pocket, Hannah wrapped her arms around her torso. It wasn’t the cold she was trying to guard herself against. It was hard to talk about her father, and how he wasn’t coping with her mother’s death.
“He had seemed all right for a bit. Well, not all right, but he had been going back to work for a bit.
“He’s not anymore. It’s been a week since he’d been to work.”
She rubbed her foot in the snow, drawing inconsequential lines with her boot-clad toes--evidence she’d been here.
“I’m afraid to leave him alone. It’s why I’m here now,” she explained to the gravestone. “He’s asleep. He’s safe when he sleeps.
“I know it’s not the best time for me to be here; it’s dangerous even during the daylight hours. But, I’ll be all right, Mum. I’ll get home safe. I’m not worried.”
An animal howled in the distance, making Hannah jump despite her declarations of courage to her mother. She wasn’t really scared, though. Animals were inconsequential. The major threats, the ones she should be scared of--You Know Who and the Death Eaters who’d murdered her mum--their danger barely registered in her mind.
“They want me to go back to Hogwarts, Mum. Ernie, Justin and Susan. They all think I should go back. But Dad needs me, doesn’t he? I can’t just leave him.”
Squatting down, Hannah hugged her knees to her chest as she balanced on the balls of her feet. “I’m not sure I can go back just yet. I don‘t think I know how.”
She continued talking to her mother’s grave, going on about anything and everything she could think of. Telling her mother things Hannah had already told her during her last visit, even.
She only stopped when her voice croaked in protest and her throat thirsted for water. It was hard to stop talking, though. Pain shot through her every time she had to leave her mother’s grave, and this was no different.
Gathering herself, she pushed her hands in her pockets and started to walk back home. Except, even though she was thirsty and tired, she didn’t take her shortcut. Her whole body shivered from the cold, but she wasn’t ready to go back home where she would feel so very alone.
At least outside she had the snow to keep her company.
Hannah faintly knows that there might be danger, walking alone at such a late (or was it early morning now?) hour while there was a war raging. This was, after all, a town where Death Eaters had come before…
Except Hannah didn’t feel any fear. Perhaps there was just no room for it.
Barely paying any attention to her surroundings, she tried to clear her mind. She focused on the cold nipping at her face and she buried her hands deeper into her pockets.
It was still snowing, but very lightly. However, Hannah’s coat seemed to be covered with little snowflakes and there seemed to be one stuck in her eyelashes.
As she crossed the road, moving in the general direction of her home, she slipped on a patch of ice and nearly lost her footing. Her eyes wide, her heart having sped up ever so slightly, she righted herself and quickly went back to the safety of the sidewalk. It was only then that she took in her surroundings and realized where she actually was.
She was standing directly in front of the old Potter house. It was dark, but the moonlight was shining through a gap the clouds, outlining the ruins.
Normally, she wouldn’t stop or pay much attention to the site. She saw it constantly, living in the same town, and the novelty had worn away. Except tonight, she suddenly felt drawn to it. Perhaps it was the moonlight or the flurries. Or maybe it was that she’d just visited her mother in the same cemetery where Lily and James Potter were buried.
Hannah wasn’t sure what it was, but she suddenly had tears in her eyes and her mouth gaped open. She stumbled across the sidewalk and grabbed hold of the fence with both hands. Her breath was coming in sharp gasps.
It was the first time in a very long while that she actually took the time to take in the ruined house. It felt as though she was seeing it for the very first time. In a way, perhaps she was.
Her eyes racked over the planks of wood, the hole, the place where it had happened.
It was kind of amazing--and quite a bit scary--that she lived just a few streets away from where You Know You had been defeated the first time.
He was back, He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named. Everyone knew that now, but she had known since her fifth year. She had known it. Her friends had, too. They were members of the D.A., after all. With Harry leading them, they started to prepare for war.
Hannah looked down then, and was slightly taken aback by the graffiti-laden plaque. She read a couple of the more recent messages. Some were obviously from last year (‘I believe you, Harry!’). While others were even more recent--one was dated three weeks previous.
It made Hannah feel pathetic and useless.
She wasn’t fighting anymore.
Hannah wanted to cry, but now the tears didn’t come. Perhaps she was all dried up.
Remembering how she felt before her mother had been murdered, she felt a tug pulling at her gut. Hannah had been ready to give her life for what she believed in… or so she’d thought. Now she was burrowing away, hiding with her father.
Her best friend’s aunt had been murdered just this past summer, yet Susan was still at Hogwarts. She was still fighting. The letter Hannah had received from her friend suddenly felt white hot in her pocket.
Hannah should be fighting, too. She wanted to be fighting, damn it! She wasn’t just going to let her friends down.
A strange feeling started flowing through her body; a feeling she hadn’t felt in months. She was feeling stubborn and determined. She still felt so lost, but there was a resolve there, too. And she was angry. Perhaps the anger more than anything.
She had to go back to Hogwarts.
Only, there was her dad. She’d have to tell him, and that wasn’t going to be easy at all. He’d gotten used to having her around. She’d gotten used to being around him. Hannah knew now that she’d be going back to Hogwarts at the start of next term--she had to--but before then, she would make sure her father would be taken care of.
Plunging her hands into her jacket, Hannah fished around until she found what she was looking for. It was a felt-tip pen. It wasn’t magical, but it would do the job.
Uncapping the pen, Hannah searched for a decently blank spot on the plaque in front of her. As she wrote, she mumbled the words aloud, as though speaking the words would magically bind her to her renewed commitment.