He squinted in the early afternoon sun and glanced at the clock. Groaning, he slid out of bed in a daze, still partially asleep. He stumbled over to the curtains covering the sliding glass door and opened them, revealing a small balcony furnished with a table and two chairs. He rubbed his eyes and leaned against the door frame.
The view was spectacular, and he gazed at the curvature of the coast where sand met water as it stretched into the distance.The dark and foamy wave caps of the Atlantic Ocean only made the scene look more serene.
He wished for the moment that he was still in Barcelona. That was where he had begun this journey, in a hotel where he could have picked up the telephone and ordered coffee and breakfast from room service. Instead, he was here in the flat he had let and, at this hour, he would need to cook something or go hungry. He trudged to the kitchen where he put coffee in the maker and then went back to bed to wait for it to perk. He stretched out in the sheets of the white bed and stared at the sky.
Harry watched as the curtains fluttered and danced in the cool air. His stomach growled and the smell of coffee wafted towards him, drawing him back towards the kitchen. As he fixed himself a cup he thought about how there was nothing better than the coffee in Spain, the area was known for it and the dark drink woke him up better than anything else could. He made himself some toast and jam and made his way to the table on the balcony.
After finishing his toast, he stood up and went to the railing. He leaned forward, gripping the railing with both hands, and looked down at the beach from the vantage point of the fifth-floor balcony. The air was cool, the February sunshine was invigorating. Harry could see a line of clouds forming on the horizon. He felt the strong east wind moving his hair. Harry closed his eyes, soothed by the sound of the wind and ocean waves. He had always liked the ocean, always felt connected to it somehow. Perhaps it was the fact that he had only dreamed of it as a child. The Dursleys had always left him home on summer days when they took Dudley to the beach.
His flat was situated on the top floor of the building, which he preferred since there was nobody above him and gave him only one neighbour to the side. It was mostly peaceful here. Winter in coastal Spain was definitely not the most popular season for tourism, but Harry enjoyed the quiet.
He gazed at the coastline stretching out as far as the eye could see. During his stay here, while he was walking down the beach for miles on end, he imagined that last year, while he was struggling to survive, this place was here exactly the same. It was hard to believe that this world existed in the same space and time as that one. It seemed almost un-natural, as if such a calm, peaceful world wasn’t allowed to exist in the same one he had come from.
These few weeks, everything in his past, present and future seemed far away. The past felt as if it had happened long, long ago, or in a dream. The present felt unimportant and distant. The future still felt like something he couldn’t grasp.
Ginny felt like she was a lifetime away.
It didn’t matter. She didn’t matter. The mere thought of her made him want to throw something.
Harry put his dishes in the sink and went back to his bedroom to dress. As he pulled his shirt over his head he thought about her briefly… again. It seemed as if she were in his mind more than he liked, and most days he couldn’t go five minutes without thinking of her.
All in all, it left him feeling miserable. He knew he needed to begin to sort out exactly what had gone wrong between them, but he couldn’t bring himself to do so just yet. With all that Ginny had expressed to him last month, Harry knew she deserved his thought and energy. She still deserved it, even though she had done what she had done and ended their relationship. Yet, at this point in time, he couldn’t bring himself to sort through any of those events, feelings or emotions.
As he stepped outside and made his way down the five staircases, he entered the main street of Zahara de Los Atunes. The ruins of an old fort stood across the road. They were dilapidated from salt air and time, and were mostly kept open as a tourist attraction. Sadly, they didn’t seem to attract many visitors, at least they hadn’t in his time here. The few fancy hotels that stood on the main street, although grand, were similarly vacant at this time of year.
He had done enough observing to know that life in general was different out here. Harry thought about the past three weeks and all he had seen and experienced. Nothing about Spain had been familiar when he first arrived, and he had enjoyed the mystery of the place. The sights, sounds and smells were all so different from anything he had experienced growing up in dreadfully boring Surrey or in the Wizarding world.
When he had left London, it was in a hurry, with a head full of angry, irrational thoughts. He had thought that some kind of escape would help him cope and it had. Yet, despite how much time he had spent resting, relaxing and thinking these past few weeks, he still felt the same irking mixture of grief and pain he had felt all along. He would find momentary peace of mind during long walks on the beach, but then his thoughts would wander to horrible things: the blown-out walls of Hogwarts, the smile on Fred’s face as he died, his final confrontation with Voldemort, and Tonks and Remus lying dead in the Great Hall. Warm and drunk and safe within the walls of the cantinas he frequented, he could forget for awhile, but afterwards — often in the middle of the night — he would lie awake with a terrible stomach ache and insomnia, feeling awful inside. He had trouble sleeping, and he still had nightmares most nights; usually, he woke up gasping for air and covered in sweat because he hadn’t realized it was simply a nightmare and that whatever he had dreamed about hadn’t actually happened. It would take him several long minutes to realize that Ginny or Ron or Hermione weren’t dead and gone because of him and what he’d had to do during the war.
He had been thinking a lot, too; mostly about the last real conversation he had with Hermione about Dr. Nutters. He had sorted out in his time away that Hermione was probably right about his needing to seek help. It wasn’t an outright admission that he needed it, or that he wanted to. He was sceptical. To be honest, he wasn’t sure if or how much Dr. Nutters could repair him. Am I broken? he asked himself again. Maybe, the voice in his head answered in the way it had the past few times he had asked himself that.
It was difficult for Harry to begin to sort out why he was still having such trouble here in Spain. While the point of this journey was to remove himself from it all, he still felt as haunted by his past as he had been back in England.
Being away has been good for me, though, he thought decidedly. At least since he had found this flat and began wandering up and down the beach every day, he felt less anxious than he had in months. Then another voice in his head told him that it wasn’t a holiday anymore. It was an escape.
The clouds in the distance had rolled in since he had left his flat, leaving the sky grey with a slight misty rain falling. Harry pulled the hood of the jacket he was wearing up around his head. He decided to take off his shoes and socks. He shrunk them and put them in the pocket of his jacket. The cool February air nipped at his feet, but the sand felt good in his toes. He stuffed his hands in his jeans pockets.
Harry stared down at his feet, feeling less like himself than ever. He wasn’t Harry Potter, Auror in Training and Order of Merlin, First Class. Out here, he wasn’t Harry Potter, the sodding Boy-Who-Lived or Harry Potter, boyfriend to the most beautiful and infuriating girl he knew. Back there he had to be someone all the time and out here… well, out here he was Vernon Dudley, tourist, bachelor and playboy. And, might he add, life as Vernon Dudley was really much, much easier.
Did he want to go back to being Harry Potter? Who would really want to be him anyhow? It was definitely a burden, if you asked him.
Ginny stared at the letter she had written with slight disgust before shoving it into Hermione’s hand. It made her want to retch into the nearest bin. Instead, she buried her face in Hermione’s quilt.
What else was there to say? What more was inside her heart? If there was more, the letter would be wet with ruddy tears and would read, Regardless of how much of a prat you are and how much I want to hit you, it’s pathetic how much I miss you and love you. There is a physical pain in my chest when I hear your name or any mention of you. Even though we’re so far apart in so many ways, I think about you all the time. I’ve been a wreck for weeks while you’ve been gone, but I don’t show it because even if I did, you don’t care, do you? You haven’t cared, not in a