Progress Notes: I will be on vacation for 20 days starting tomorrow, and where I'm going, there is zero internet service. Please stick around! I've sent chapter 12 (the corrected and ready-to-go version) to my beta. She hasn't responded yet, but hopefully she'll post it soon.
Harry looked wearily at Ron over his goblet of water. “You shouldn’t have done that, she’ll torture you next.” His friend shrugged and stared fixedly at the fire. Their simple sanctuary, a place where Death Eaters were not breathing down their necks, suddenly seemed so unsafe. The common room had been stripped of its cheerful banners that flashed Gryffindor colors and now was demonstrating a depressing stone wall of gray. Ron suddenly jumped up and pounded the wall violently.
“I hate this! Why? Why did they have to come here? I’m so sick of being a prisoner inside a place that I used to have freedom! I want them to DIE! I want them to burn to ashes!”
Harry stood up and tried to put a comforting hand on his friend’s shoulder but Ron shoved it off roughly. “Ron,” said Harry quietly, “This doesn’t help. Screaming never helps; remember last time? Death Eaters came rushing in here and started a lock-down mode on the whole school.” Ron spun around, rage rippling through his body and fury flickering in his eyes.
“I DON’T CARE! I DON’T CARE ANYMORE! D’you hear me? I want OUT! I just want to DIE! I WANT TO GO BACK TO LIVING THE BLOODY GOOD LIFE I USED TO LIVE—!”
“Silencio,” Harry muttered and Ron continued to move his lips furiously but no sound came out. He gestured violently towards his throat, obviously demanding the counter-charm. Harry shook his head, “Calm down and promise not to yell and I’ll lift the charm. You don’t want Malfoy up here sneering as you get tortured for making a racket, do you?” Ron frowned and sat himself down on the couch, glaring at the log in the fireplace. Harry immediately uttered the counter-charm and although Ron could now speak, he remained silent for nearly ten minutes.
“You know what really gets to me?” he asked abruptly, Harry shook his head. “The fact that we’re letting them do this to us; we’re letting them walk all over every single person in this school.”
“It’s not even a school anymore,” said Harry quietly.
Ron gritted his teeth and looked around the Common Room.
“Exactly! This isn’t Hogwarts! This is like those concentration camps they had in Germany during that stupid muggle war; you know...those places where they tortured people. They don’t care how many of us get hurt or die—they just want to create a world where only people like them exist.”
Only silence followed his words; a silence that seemed to be full of wisdom.
“D’you think,” Ron started cautiously. “That they think about us?”
Harry didn’t need to ask Ron who he was talking about. It was obvious his friend was missing his family, but what about himself? The Weasley’s had become his family in his seventh year, before they had known that he was destined to kill Lord Voldemort. In fact, only Ron, Hermione, and Ginny knew about the prophecy and he hadn’t wanted Mrs. Weasley’s pestering about how he was too young to be given such a responsibility. What would have happened if that horrifying night, filled with screams and pain, had never occurred? What if the Hogwarts Express had continued its steady ride down the tracks to Platform 9and 3 Quarters? Their lives had changed...they had changed completely. Even after the ‘Final Battle’, as Ron called it, they had been semi-normal people. But now, trapped in a prison that had endless possibilities of torture....
Harry looked up and noticed tears forming in Ron’s usually hard brown eyes. “I was going to propose to her,” he whispered. “Right after we would have gotten off the train, I was going to ask Hermione to marry me, and then....” he buried his face in his hands, his voice emerging muffled. “I mean, even if we could get married....who would want to? In a place like this, only bad memories would come out of it.......” Harry closed his eyes, thinking of Ginny. They had grown so close, too close and Harry had pushed her away. He had pushed her away until she had finally snapped and demanded an explanation. And he had told her.
The prophecy, the truth about Snape, why Dumbledore had died. So many painful memories had been brought up so that Harry had felt worn and beat at the end of his long rant. The anger in her eyes had affirmed his unasked questions about his lies to her. Worse was the expression on her face when he told her what exactly Riddle’s diary had been. The image of Ginny wiping her palms on her robes, as if the thought of having touched the horcrux was too painful to remember, had remained etched in Harry’s mind for weeks.
She had been disgusted with him. He had been lying to her for so long, she said. How could she know if he had ever told her the truth about anything? But it was impossible for her to be mad at him for long and she had forgiven him. He would do anything to see her again. Her brilliant smile, her joyful laugh...
He shook his head slightly and stood up as tired, former Gryffindors tramped into what was once their Common Room. Hermione was amongst them; her bushy brown hair hung limply at her shoulders and her normally smiling face that used to be stuck behind books was now pale and thin. Harry made room for her on the sofa he and Ron were sharing so that she was sitting beside his best friend rather than him. Hermione hardly recognized his efforts, dark circles surrounding her eyes. She looked over at the window as she sat down beside the two boys and grimaced at her appearance.
“I look horrible,” she said with a groan. Ron seemed to jump out of his trance.
“No, you do not.” he said firmly, grasping her hand tightly in his. “You look as beautiful as ever,” Tears were leaking down her cheeks, but Hermione managed a bleak smile.
“Thanks, Ron. That’s really sweet of you,” She leaned forward and gave him a slight peck on the cheek. Ron smiled back, a sheet of red creeping onto his cheeks as he let go of her hand and sat back in the sofa, looking extremely satisfied. Harry rolled his eyes and leaned back into his seat, resting his dragon-hide boots onto the coffee table. Although practically in a prison, a few girls in the room ignored their dreary environment and sighed dreamily. They were nearly drooling when Harry ruffled his hair; just like his father used to do, making it messier than before and giving him a handsome and rebellious kind of look. It was Hermione’s turn to roll her eyes,
“Honestly, Harry. Stop showing off,” He grinned recklessly and stared out the window where rain was continuously pounding on the glass. His smile had been so genuine that even Hermione couldn’t scold him for acting like his long-deceased father. His grin slowly faded however, as his eyes focused on the iron bars cast over the windowpanes. A small bit of sanity stopped him from completely losing his temper, as he had done in Bellatrix’s office, as he looked around the room. Gryffindors were silently playing on worn chessboards and whispering in monotones as if afraid to speak out loud. The depressing room was full of people who should be the leaders of the school due to their bravery, yet had given up all hope. Hermione was also looking around the room and an expression of determination spread onto her face.
“This group needs some life,” she said quietly. Her eyes shifted onto an empty bottle of butterbeer and a sudden evil glint flickered in her appearance. “I’ve got an idea....” she whispered, picking up the bottle and twisting it in her fingers. Ron watched her with an apprehensive smile, shaking his head as she stood up and directed the Gryffindor’s attention to herself.
“What do you say?” she asked cheerfully. “Who’s up for a game of ‘Spin the Bottle’?” Everyone eagerly rejoined in a circle, small second years giggling as the first kiss was distributed. Harry and Ron watched from the sidelines, their torn emotions separating them from the fake happiness of their friends.
“She’s amazing,” Harry said, shaking his head with amusement. Ron nodded, his eyes glazed over as he watched his love. He frowned, turning away from a blushing Neville who had just kissed Parvati on the lips.
“We need to get out of here, Harry. We can’t survive this for much longer.” Ron watched with a small trickle of fear as his friend’s emerald eyes hardened as he stood up.
“I know, Ron,” Harry said, his voice ringing. “They’re chasing us, and we’re still running. But you know what? I’m sick of being chased, I’m sick of being the one who’s imprisoned.” the boy hero extracted a bundle of newspapers from his pocket and threw them into the blazing fire. He turned on his heel and swept up the stairs with a small smile towards the giggling girls. Ron carefully pulled out one of the papers that weren’t burnt by the flames and read:
Guilty of Causing the Imprisonment of our Children
Below there was a long article on Harry and his past, finishing with an absurd story on how Harry Potter had purposely asked for Death Eaters to come and invade Hogwarts. Ron threw the newspaper back into the fire where it belonged; marveling at the fact that his friend might have contact with the outside world.
“I’m sick of being chased...” Harry’s words came back to him and he shuddered. He smiled a grim smile and followed his friend upstairs to their beds and he knew what Harry had meant.
Harry Potter was going to show these Death Eaters what happens when they mess with him and his family.