|SIYE Time:4:11 on 23rd November 2017|
Characters:Harry/Ginny, Hermione Granger, Ron Weasley
Genres: Drama, Romance
Warnings: Disturbing Imagery, Mild Language, Mild Sexual Situations
Summary: The year after the war was a confusing time for the teen warriors. They had fought against the greatest evil - what was next? Follow them as they try to find out. Canon pairings.
Hitcount: Story Total: 80833; Chapter Total: 3331
Awards: View Trophy Room
Thank you so much to StephanieO and seekers_destiny for their beta work! I am sorry it took so long between updates, thank you for sticking with me. I know that Hermione might come across as a bit ooc, but please keep in mind the stress she is under and she has some lingering unresolved issues from her experiences during the war.
Ginny sleepily followed Hermione to the Great Hall for breakfast. Even though it was a weekend, she had Quidditch practice in preparation for their first game next weekend. She glanced over at Hermione and was disgruntled to notice how alert and well put together her friend was so early in the morning.
“Miss Weasley, Miss Granger!”
The girls turned to see Professor McGonagall approaching them. “Good morning Professor.”
“Good morning, ladies,” the headmistress replied. “I wondered if you could join me in my office for a few minutes.”
“Of course,” Hermione replied promptly. Ginny agreed and they followed her up to her office.
When they entered the office, Ginny was shocked to see her father. “Dad! Is everything okay? Is it Mum?”
“Your mother’s fine,” Mr Weasley said reassuringly. “Please sit down.”
The girls sat down on the chairs he indicated. Professor McGonagall sat down on the other side of her desk.
“Dad, what is it?”
“I understand that Harry spoke to you about your brothers,” he began.
Ginny nodded. “He told me he was concerned that they’d been drinking. Ron’s been acting like a right prat.”
“It’s not his fault,” Hermione defended her boyfriend. “He’s been going through a lot.”
“That may be,” Mr Weasley said, “but I feel it’s gone on long enough. I believe Harry very much understated the problem. Bill did some investigating this week and discovered that Ron and George have been running up bar bills and drinking way too much. Tom at the Leaky Cauldron has had to call Harry to come and retrieve them at least once a week, sometimes more often because they’d become either to rowdy or a bit too belligerent. Additionally Harry has covered over 100 Galleons in bar bills run up by the boys.”
Both girls paled as they listened to Mr Weasley, they hadn’t realized how out of hand the problem had gotten. Ginny looked over at Hermione and saw tears sparkling in her eyes. Reaching out she took Hermione’s hand. The older girl tried to smile, but she couldn’t really manage to do so.
“It gets worse I’m afraid,” Mr Weasley said gently. “Last night Harry came to me and asked for me help. Tom had called him. Ron was at the bar and had started one fight that they’d broken up and was on the verge of starting another. Harry didn’t want to go without back up so he came to the house. I told him not to bail Ron out of his problems. Ron was arrested early this morning for fighting, public intoxication, and disorderly conduct.”
“What?” Hermione was appalled. “Harry just let him get arrested?”
“It was my decision,” Mr Weasley replied a slight shake in his voice belied his calm demeanour. “Bailing Ron out every few weeks wasn’t doing him any good, he needs help.”
“So you had him arrested? What kind of parent are you? You should have helped him! You should have gone to get him. Even if Harry decided not to help him, you are his father!” Hermione was outraged. “He needs help! He is hurting so badly.”
“I understand,” Mr Weasley replied. “I know he needs help, but he wasn’t ready to accept it. When Bill approached him, Ron yelled at him that he was fine and Harry was just being a prat.”
“Did you think that was maybe the truth?” Hermione challenged him.
“Do I think that drinking to the point you don’t remember what happened several times a week is a good coping mechanism? No, I don’t. I don’t deny that Ron has gone through a rough patch, but he needs help. Harry shouldn’t be dragged out late at night to pull him out of bars on a regular basis.”
“Harry can damn well back him up, Merlin knows we did it often enough for him,” Hermione fired back.
“Don’t blame Harry,” Ginny spoke up angrily.
“Of course, we wouldn’t want to blame Harry. He’s perfect,” Hermione said mockingly. “Harry breaks all kinds of rules and he never gets in trouble. He went out drinking, caused a bar fight and the Minister of Magic had to come out to check on him. He didn’t get into trouble.”
“He didn’t cause a bar brawl, those men attacked him,” Ginny defended him. “You know that. My brothers told us that those men followed him into the bathroom to cause trouble.”
“Nothing’s ever Harry’s fault, is it? I get tortured and ‘oops, he’s sorry.’ He breaks the rules and someone looks the other way!”
“Miss Granger!” Professor McGonagall’s voice cut through Hermione’s rising hysteria.
Hermione dropped her head and Ginny could see the tears on her face. Ginny was torn between anger at both Ron and Hermione and pity for them.
“What is being done now?” Professor McGonagall asked Mr Weasley.
“I’ve gone to the Ministry, paid his fees, and brought him home to the Burrow at least for the weekend. He’s angry and hurt and I think we need to keep a closer eye on him. Luckily for him, Tom declined to press charges, but he has asked that Ron not patronize his pub for a period of a month. I’ve spoken to Kingsley and Gawain Robards, they don’t want to punish him, but feel he needs a bit of a wakeup call. He will have to pay a fine and he will have to perform some community service hours.”
Hermione stood. “Harry should have to perform some community service hours!”
Ginny watched in shock as her normally unflappable friend stormed out of the headmistresses’ office.
“She’s angry and upset,” Mr Weasley said sadly. “I can’t really blame her. It’s frustrating to love someone so much and not be able to help them. I’ve been going through something similar with your mother. Unfortunately I don’t think Ron is ready to admit he has a problem.”
“Can I do anything?” Ginny asked quietly.
Mr Weasley smiled as he hugged his daughter. “Not right now, my sweet girl. Ron needs to work out his problems for himself and Hermione needs to work through her feelings as well. Just be there for them.”
“I will,” Ginny promised her father.
After hugging her father again, Ginny watched him leave feeling not a little lost. She jumped when Professor McGonagall addressed her. “Miss Weasley, I’m afraid you are in for a bit of a rough patch. I have no doubt the newspapers will be delighted to report your brother’s issues. I don’t know if I can assist you in any way, but if I can please let me know.”
“Thank you, Professor,” Ginny said softly.
She left the Headmistress’ office, stroking the top of the gargoyle’s head as she walked past. Whilst Harry had spoken to her about her brothers’ problems, she honestly hadn’t thought it would be so bad. Hermione’s reaction had been a bit of shock as well. Hermione was usually so calm and rational; to have her reacting so emotionally was distressing.
Reaching the main stairs, Ginny paused for a minute trying to figure out what she should do. All she wanted right now was to see Harry and make sure he was handling things well.
Making up her mind, she hurried up to the common room. Thankfully Demelza was sitting in front of the fire.
“Demelza, can you do me a favour?” Ginny asked. “I’ve had a bit of a family emergency. Do you think you can run practice for me today?”
“Of course,” Demelza replied eager for increased responsibility. “What’s going on?”
Ginny briefly explained what had happened. Demelza was shocked. “Blimey, Ginny that’s horrid. Can I do anything?”
“Run practice for me,” Ginny said with a slight smile.
After reviewing her plan for the practice with Demelza, Ginny hurried to the abandoned room that was so special to her and Harry. Taking a deep breath she called softly, “Kreacher!”
The elf arrived quickly and at Ginny’s request transported her to Grimmauld Place. “Master is playing with Baby Teddy in the drawing room,” Kreacher announced grandly.
Biting back a giggle at the old elf’s formality, Ginny hurried up to the drawing room. The door of the room was open and Ginny could see most of the furniture had been pushed back towards the walls. A large blanket was spread out on the floor and Harry was laying down on the blanket with Teddy. The pair were surrounded by soft blocks, stuffed animals, and a baby bag. Harry was currently entertaining the
laughing baby with a stuffed black dog that Harry had charmed to run around the boy.
“Hi!” Ginny said as she stepped into the room.
Harry’s eyes widened and he dropped the charm on the dog. “Ginny! I am so glad to see you.”
Jumping up he pulled her into a tight embrace. Ginny held him tightly until he broke the hug. He cupped her cheek with one hand and leaning down kissed her gently.
A noise behind them broke them apart and they turned to see Teddy gnawing on the stuffed dog. Smiling, Harry pulled Ginny over to the blanket and she sat down next to him.
Teddy gave her a one toothed, rather drooling grin. She started laughing and leaning over planted a kiss on the baby’s head. “You are so sweet, Teddy!”
Harry was staring at Ginny. He was so glad to see her, he was having trouble believing she was really there. “Ginny, I don’t want you to take this the wrong way, but should you be here?”
“Yes,” Ginny said a touch defiantly. “Dad came to visit us this morning.”
She briefly outlined what had happened during the meeting. His face fell at the reaction of his best friend. “Damn, I kind of wish I’d just gone to get him last night.”
“You did the right thing,” Ginny reassured him. “I love my brother and I want him to get help, not keep drinking himself stupid.”
“Thank you,” Harry said grateful for her support. “How did you get permission to leave?”
Ginny giggled. “I didn’t exactly. Demelza is running practice and Hermione is off freaking out somewhere
so I decided my place was with you.”
Harry smiled. “I’m glad you’re here.”
The couple spent the day playing with Teddy. He was sitting up on his own now and laughing quite a bit. Harry loved the unexpected time with his two favourite people. It was the perfect antidote to his awful early morning. He knew he’d have to deal with Ron at some point in time, but he was grateful for the reprieve.
They were in the dining room eating lunch when footsteps sounded on the stairs. Harry stood and walked to the door, his wand was held loosely by his side. Ginny hurried to Teddy’s side. She didn’t really think Ron would do anything, but you never really know.
She was relieved when George was the one who came ambling down the hall. Harry quickly put his wand away.
After greeting Harry, George raised his eyebrow to see his sister. “That can’t be my sister. She’s Head Girl and she wouldn’t be out of school without permission.”
Rolling her eyes, Ginny hugged her brother and impulsively kissed him on the cheek. “As you’ve always said, it’s better to beg for forgiveness than ask for permission.”
“True, very true,” George said.
“How’s he doing?” Ginny asked as the three of them moved back into the dining room. Kreacher had
already popped into the room and added a plate for George.
They sat down and George helped himself to a thick piece of steak and kidney pie before answering the question. “Mum and Dad went down this morning and paid his fine — it was almost 500 Galleons.”
Harry winced. “I am so sorry. I didn’t realize it would be so expensive — if your dad needs any help with it
“Harry! No, first it’s not your fault and secondly my dad said he had the money. He’s going to have Ron pay him back from his wages,” George said. He could read the hurt and confusion on Harry’s face. “He needs to face up to the consequences of his actions. You’ve spoken to him, I talked to him, and Bill talked to him, but he didn’t think he was doing anything wrong.”
“Did I overreact?” Harry asked.
“No, sweetie,” Ginny tried to reassure him, but Harry wasn’t exactly listening.
“All he was doing was going out drinking after work with his friends,” Harry said morosely. “Maybe I was being a stick in the mud.”
“No, you weren’t,” George said. “No there’s nothing wrong with going out for a drink with friends, but when you’re going out every night and drinking yourself into oblivion. We weren’t in a good place and Ron isn’t making a move to get out of there. It’s not normal to run up over 100 Galleons in bar bills and not even think about paying back the person who paid the bills for you. It’s not normal to have to be pulled out of the bar by your friends at least once a week. His drinking wasn’t just affecting him, it was affecting all of us. Do you have any idea how many days we opened our shop late? We’re just lucky that most of our customers are fairly laid back and aren’t too picky about that sort of thing.
“Ron’s out of control right now. He’s always late to work and he’s taking long lunches. Some afternoon he doesn’t even come back. He’s smoking in the house and at work even though both of us have asked him not to. There is nothing you can do, Harry. Ron needs to realize that he needs help.”
Harry nodded distractedly as he fed Teddy his last few bites of carrots and started feeding him some applesauce. Teddy seemed oblivious to the turmoil around him and grinned up at his godfather as he spooned more food into his mouth. Harry couldn’t help but smile at the innocent joy of a baby.
“I know you’re right,” Harry said after a few minutes, “but I just hate that it’s come to this. I’ve just kept thinking that surely Ron would come to his senses or realize what was happening. I hate that this happened.”
“Me too,” George replied. “But as it has I don’t know what is going to happen. I think dad told you that Ron will be living at the Burrow for a while and I’m pretty sure they are going to keep him on a short leash.” He looked over at his younger friend, his demeanour usually serious. “Harry, this is not your fault! You tried to help him, but until he’s ready to accept help we can’t do anything.”
Harry nodded. “I know. I just feel awful. I feel like I deserted him or something.”
“You didn’t,” Ginny said firmly. “This is his issue to work through, not yours.”
Harry smiled at his fiancée, he was certainly glad he had her in his life.
In the late afternoon, Ginny kissed both Harry and Teddy goodbye and had Kreacher take her back to Hogwarts. She arrived back at the common room and found Demelza working on her Potions’ essay.
“Hi, how was practice?” Ginny asked as she sat down across from Demelza.
“Great! I think everyone is playing well,” Demelza replied. Looking around the common room she
lowered her voice and added, “Hermione’s been storming around like a thundercloud — I think she reduced two first years to tears, but she didn’t mention you. I told the team you had a family emergency. I think most of them saw the headlines this morning.”
“It made it to the papers already?” Ginny asked in amazement.
Demelza nodded. “It must have happened close to their deadline because they had a picture of Ron fighting in the Leaky and his mug shot, but not a lot of details. They made a lot of Ron Weasley, veteran of the Battle of Hogwarts and best mate of Harry Potter starting a bar brawl. They had a few quotes from people about Ron’s drinking and they speculated about why Harry wasn’t there. Of course they speculated that either Ron disapproved of you and Harry dating and they fought or the popular Harry and Hermione were carrying on an affair and Ron found out.”
Ginny cursed some of the phrases she’d heard eavesdropping on her oldest brothers. “Why must they always do that?”
Demelza shook her head. “I don’t know. It’s completely ridiculous, but the rumours always seem to make their way around. No one who knows you believes it, but there are always people who want to believe the worst of you.”
Ginny groaned. “Great, this will make Hermione even more upset. She gets so angry because she’s never dated Harry and people are always making her out to be either his cast off or a home wrecker.”
Demelza giggled. “I’m sorry, I can’t really see her in either of those ways.”
“I know,” Ginny said. “She’s been such a good friend to Harry and the papers are always happy to think the worst.”
Sobering up Demelza asked, “How’s your brother?”
“I don’t know,” Ginny sighed. “George came by and picked up some of Ron’s belongings and it honestly didn’t sound good.”
Harry was surprised at how quickly the week had passed. He hadn’t seen or spoken to Ron all week, but he really felt that was for the best. He’d had short notes from both Mr and Mrs Weasley letting him know how Ron was doing and reiterating that this was not his fault. While Harry still didn’t feel entirely comfortable with his role in Ron’s troubles, he did feel better than he had over the weekend.
Friday was truly his favourite day of the week — he didn’t know how he would make it through the week if he couldn’t see Ginny. After his morning classes, he hurriedly showered and changed before heading over to Hogwarts. He couldn’t wait to see Ginny.
Grabbing his bag from his room, he headed for the Floo. Professor McGonagall wasn’t in her office, Harry was a bit disappointed — he rather enjoyed talking to Professor McGonagall. She wasn’t nearly as scary as he’d thought her to be when he first started at Hogwarts. It has taken him almost eight years, but he found the tender heart she hid under the gruff exterior.
Glancing at his watch, he realized he was a bit early. He’d probably pushed it a bit on the time. None of his other classmates were here yet and Professor McGonagall was probably still at lunch. He grimaced slightly, he hoped he wouldn’t get into trouble for getting there early.
As he reached the Entrance Hall, he ran into Professor McGonagall. She nodded at him. “Good afternoon, Mr Potter.”
“Good afternoon, Professor.”
As slight smile ghosted around her face. “Perhaps you should check your watch, Mr Potter. It seems to be running a bit fast.”
He blushed. “Yes, Professor. I will.”
She nodded. “See that you do. However, you are here so you might wish to join your fiancée for lunch.”
“Thank you, Professor,” he said gratefully. “Sorry, I just…it’s been a long week.”
“I imagine it has,” she replied softly. “I would not expect this to be a weekly occurrence, but if you wished to stay this evening and spend some time with Miss Weasley, I would have no objections. It is times like these we need our friends.”
He stammered out his thanks and watched in astonishment as she headed up to her office. While he would have expected such actions from Professor Dumbledore, he hadn’t expected it from Professor McGonagall.
As he turned to head into the Great Hall, he saw Ginny heading towards him. He had to smile. She was so beautiful. Today she was hearing her long hair pulled back, but loose falling down her back. She was wearing the earrings he’d given her for her birthday.
Ignoring the talking and laughing students around her, Hermione pulled out Ron’s letter to re-read it. She still couldn’t believe everything that had happened. It had been a very long week. As much as she’d tried to avoid it, she’d still heard the whispers and rumours.
It was so frustrating! She had never dated Harry, but she was always cast in the role of his ex-girlfriend. Why couldn’t people accept that she and Ron were in a serious relationship? Honestly, Ron was the only boy for whom she’d ever had strong feelings. Sure she’d had been flattered when Viktor had shown an interest in her, but she’d never developed feelings for him as she had for Ron.
Poor Ron, she could tell how much he was hurting from his letter. He was upset and hurt by Harry’s actions. Not only that, but his parents and brothers weren’t being very understanding.
For the first time, she felt so isolated from the other students. She was the oldest student at school and she really felt so separated from them. Not matter how well she thought she’d prepared, she really underestimated how much she relied on Ron and Harry. Ginny was a good friend, but they didn’t have the same relationship as she had with the boys.
The boys, it all came back to ‘how could he’? How could Harry have forgotten everything they’d gone through and all they’d done together? He was just leaving Ron behind when Ron needed him the most.
Putting her letter away, she finished her lunch in silence. She didn’t feel like talking to any of the other students. She glared at Ginny who was talking to Demelza. Ron’s sister wasn’t being very supportive of her brother. Wanting a few minutes to herself before class, she headed out to the Entrance Hall.
“What did you do?!”
Harry had been so enthralled in watching Ginny, he hadn’t even noticed Hermione approaching.
He automatically took a step back from her, she was furious. Her hair was flying wildly around her and she didn’t look as though she’d been sleeping well.
“Hermione, I’m sorry-”
“You’re sorry? He has been your best mate since first year and you couldn’t help him out.”
“We have risked our lives for you over and over. We’ve stood by you when everyone else thought you were an attention seeking lunatic. We’ve defended you — even when you’ve done incredibly stupid things like when you almost killed Malfoy. I sent my parents away with no memories of me so I could be there for you!” Hermione was enraged and Harry was at a loss as to what he should do. Her voice was becoming more and more shrill.
“Hermione,” Ginny said tentatively.
“Shut up, Ginny!” Hermione yelled. “This isn’t about you.”
Turning back to Harry she said, “Ron and I gave everything to you! We didn’t even consider dating until everything was over because we needed to be there for you. We almost gave up on you when you caused us to get captured, but we didn’t. It was your fault I was tortured! Yours, not anyone else’s. You wouldn’t listen — Ron told you not to use You-Know-Who’s name, but no you’re Harry Potter, the normal rules don’t apply to you!”
Harry stared at Hermione feeling totally lost. By this time a crowd had gathered around them and he could see Ginny standing at the front of the crowd with tears streaming down her face. He could tell she was feeling as lost as he was.
“I appreciate everything you’ve done,” Harry began, but Hermione wasn’t in a listening mood.
“Of course you do!” she raged. “We’ve done everything for you and when it comes time for you to do one little thing for Ron, you won’t help him.”
“I’ve tried,” Harry yelled back, feeling rather ill-used. “I’ve paid his bar bills, I’ve picked him up over and over and he doesn’t learn.”
“Please,” Hermione replied drawing out the word. “You can afford a few bar bills and you’ve woken us up with your ‘nightmares’ plenty of times. You owe us! After everything we’ve done for you and you can’t be bothered to help your best mate because you are too busy sleeping with his sister.”
“Oh, I’m sorry,” she said not sounded at all sorry. “Was that supposed to be a secret? Poor Ron is probably the only one who doesn’t know. He believes you are too honourable to take advantage of his sister like that. Even after all of that you won’t help him! How long did you even take to think about it?”
“Hermione, I’m sorry. I’m really sorry how everything has happened,” Harry replied anxiously.
“Oh, I’m sure you are! You’re always sorry about everything,” Hermione raged. “How could you do this to him? You should have stood by him and helped him! We helped you after You-Know-Who’s rebirth! We stood by you when everyone else thought you were crazy! We stood by you when you led us into a trap and almost got us all killed. We stood by you when Sirius died! Ron’s brother is dead and you weren’t there for him!”
Harry watched helplessly as she paced angrily in front of him. Guilt washed over him as he listened to her. Was there something else he could have done for Ron?
Hermione stopped pacing in front of him and glared at him. “I am so angry at you!”
He didn’t even move when she pulled back her fist and punched him in the face. He staggered back a step. When he didn’t seem overly affected by her physical attack, she pulled her wand and cast several spells wordlessly in quick succession.
He felt several curses hit him before a flock of angry birds dove at him, pecking and scratching him. He was so stunned by her anger he didn’t even try to defend himself. He heard screaming in the background, but he didn’t register who was screaming.
“Miss Granger!” Harry dimly heard Professor McGonagall’s angry voice in the background. Hermione was beyond words, she simply screamed as she rained her rage and hurt down on Harry.
He staggered back under the onslaught of the attacking birds and occasional curse that was hurled his way. Luckily for him, Hermione was so outraged by this point she wasn’t very accurate, but enough made it through that he’d fallen back against the wall. Suddenly the birds and noise disappeared. Harry slid down the wall feeling rather dazed.
“Harry,” Ginny rushed up to him with tears streaming down her face. She knelt down next to him.
“Sweetie, are you okay? Can you stand?”
Harry looked at her in confusion. Could he stand? He felt thick and heavy, the wounds from the birds were painful. Ginny tried to pull him to his feet, but she was unable to do so. Seamus suddenly appeared at her side. “Merlin, Ginny, what the hell happened?”
Seamus gently helped his friend to his feet and draped Harry’s arm around his shoulder. Ginny was at his other side with his arm around her. Together the pair helped him up to the hospital wing. Madam Pomfrey was waiting for them.
“Over here,” she gestured to them.
A private bed had been set up, it was surrounded by curtained, privacy walls. Seamus and Ginny laid him down carefully and stepped back as Madam Pomfrey got to work. The older witch quickly and efficiently stripped Harry of his Hogwarts robes, shirt and trousers leaving him with a bit of modesty preserved. Ginny bit back a gasp at the number of wounds on his head, neck, and chest. He also had several cuts, some of which looked rather deep. Madam Pomfrey was bustling around casting spells and summoning potions.
Ginny stood trembling slightly as she watched the medi-witch work over her fiancé. She still couldn’t take in everything that had happened. Had Hermione really attacked Harry? She watched and waited with Seamus. After several long minutes, Professor McGonagall, Mr Robards, Mr Dawlish, and Kingsley Shacklebolt strode into the room.
“What the hell is going on?” Kingsley asked.
Professor McGonagall looked over at Ginny who looked between the Minister and Harry blankly before answering. “I don’t really know. Hermione’s been upset all week about what happened to Ron. She’s been angry and most people have been staying away from her. She doesn’t even want to talk to me. I never even thought that she’d been angry at Harry. When she saw him today, she just…she just attacked him. I’ve never, ever seen her like that before. I’ve seen her angry and I know she attacked my brother with those birds before, but she didn’t put him in the hospital.”
“Miss Granger is with Madam Florence right now,” Professor McGonagall explained. “She’s been given a Calming Draught.”
“I trust she’s been disarmed,” Robards said.
Professor McGonagall nodded. “Professors Clarke and Flitwick are with her as well. I believe she’s overwrought by what has been happening with Ron Weasley. When Arthur Weasley was here over the weekend, Miss Granger became overwrought, but I didn’t think she would become violent. I advised that she speak to Madam Florence, but I didn’t impose any punishment as I believed she was simply upset.”
“She didn’t threaten Mr Potter at all?” Robards asked
Ginny shook her head. “No, but she hasn’t really said much since my dad came to visit. She threw herself into her studies and pretty much made herself unapproachable.”
Looking over at Professor McGonagall, Kingsley asked, “Do you know if she made use of Madam Florence’s therapy?”
Raising an eyebrow at the minister, she replied, “I am not certain, but I’m sure you know such things are confidential.”
“What she discusses with a therapist is confidential,” Kingsley countered. “Whether or not she’s been attending therapy session is not confidential in this setting.”
“That is accurate,” a new voice spoke up.
Professor McGonagall spoke up, “Gentlemen, this is Madam Emma Florence. Emma, I’m not sure if you’ve met Minister Shacklebolt, Gawain Robards, and John Dawlish.” Gesturing towards Seamus, she included him in the introduction as well.
Once all of the introductions were complete, Kingsley said, “Madam Florence, did you have any idea that this might happen?”
The woman sighed. “Not this in particular, but with all that these students have gone through over the past few years it is not completely unexpected. Miss Granger has been coping well, maybe a bit too well.”
Ginny spoke up, “Do you think that when Ron was arrested, it was too much for her?”
“It might be,” Madam Florence replied. “I’m not betraying any confidences, I haven’t spoken about this with Miss Granger, but I do know that she has been under an incredible amount of stress. Her experiences over the past few years have been very different from most of the students and I believe she feels a bit isolated from a majority of the students. I think she underestimated just how different it would be for her and I believe she is concerned about her relationships with her parents and of course her boyfriend.”
“Has she expressed anger towards Mr Potter in the past?” Kingsley asked Ginny.
Ginny shook her head. “No, Hermione and Harry have always been good friends.”
“Witnesses reported that she was yelling that he owed her and Mr Weasley for everything they’d done for him,” Mr Robards said.
“Miss Granger did not agree with Harry and Arthur allowing Ron to be arrested,” Professor McGonagall said. “If she has been stewing about this all week, perhaps she just unleashed all of her anger and hurt feeling upon Harry. I can’t imagine that she meant to hurt him.”
“Yet she did,” Kingsley sighed. “Damn this is a mess. I hate that so many of those affected by this damn war are just kids.” Looking over at Professor McGonagall he said, “I don’t want you to take this as interfering, but a suggestion. Why don’t you send Miss Granger to the Burrow for a week and allow her to spend time with Mr Weasley? It might allay some of her fears.”
“I would be amenable to visiting her during the week. I believe therapy might do both of them some good,” Madam Florence said. She looked over at Ginny. “Do you think your parents would mind?”
Ginny shook her head. “No, I know my dad is really worried about Ron and he would do whatever he could to help both of them.”
Madam Pomfrey emerged from the curtained off area. She didn’t seem surprised to see so many people waiting. “Mr Potter will be fine. Most of the injuries were from the conjured birds, some of them were rather deep. I’ve closed his injuries, given him some blood replenishing potion, a mild pain potion, and a Calming Draught.” Her face softened. “I believe he was rather shocked to be attacked in such a way by Miss Granger.” Turning to Ginny, she said, “If you wish to go in, you may, but please keep him calm.”
Ginny nodded and slipped past the curtains. Harry was lying with his eyes closed and his glasses were on the bedside table. His bare chest was covered with healing wounds. Ginny felt a surge of anger at both her brother and Hermione, but pushed away her anger for now. She didn’t want to upset Harry, she could only imagine how he must be feeling. He always depended on Hermione and for her to turn on him like that must have been devastating. Ginny was certain that Harry could have defended himself, but he was either so shocked at Hermione’s attack or more worrisome he felt he deserved Hermione’s attack.
Sitting on the chair next to Harry’s bed, Ginny reached out for his hand. He opened his eyes at her touch. “It’s just me, sweetie. Go back to sleep.”
Hermione looked at Professor McGonagall with tears in her eyes. “Professor, I am so sorry. I…I don’t know what happened to me. I was just so upset and angry and…is Harry okay?”
“Harry will be fine,” Professor McGonagall reassured the girl. “Hermione, I am very concerned about you and I don’t wish to simply punish you. I believe it would do you some good to spend the next week at the Burrow with Mr Weasley. Actually, I believe it would do both of you some good to spend some time together. Madam Florence has already spoken to Arthur and she will be coming out to speak to both you and Ron.”
“I can’t miss a whole week’s worth of classes,” Hermione said scandalized.
“Miss Granger, this is not optional,” Professor McGonagall said firmly. “I will ensure that you receive notes and assignments from all of your classes. I believe that right now, your emotional and mental health are more important than your educational needs.”
Hermione dropped her head. “I can’t believe I lost it like that. Harry must be so upset with me. Do you think I can see him before I go?”
“Do you promise not to attack him in any way?”
Hermione nodded earnestly. Professor McGonagall sighed. “I will ask him, but I can’t promise anything.”
Almost an hour later, Hermione had her bags packed. It had been awful walking into the common room and having everyone glare at her. Luckily Ginny hadn’t been in either the common room or their dorm. Hermione was dreading her next conversation with Ginny, she didn’t imagine it would be at all pleasant.
After letting Madam Pomfrey know she was there, Hermione set down her bags and headed to the curtained off area. She was interrupted before she reached Harry.
“Where do you think you’re going?”
Hermione jumped at both the hostility in Ginny’s voice as well as her presence. “I need to talk to Harry.”
Hermione glared at the younger girl. “Yes, I need to talk to Harry.”
“No, you don’t,” Ginny replied firmly. When it looked as though Hermione was going to say something, Ginny stopped her. “No, Hermione. You had your chance and I’ll not let you upset him again. He owes you? What the hell does he owe you?”
Ginny glared at her friend. “He gave you every opportunity to back out and you didn’t take it. You laughed at him actually when he told you not to come with him. Not to mention the fact that he has apologized over and over. He’s apologized to Ron for his injuries during your first year. He apologized to you for everything you’ve endured. Did you ever apologize to him for not listening to him? Did you apologize for not believing him about Draco? No, you were too busy crowing about how you were right about the Half-Blood Prince. Do you really think he needed an ‘I told you so’ after losing his mentor? Don’t think I don’t know that you threw an ‘I told you so’ at him after the Department of Mysteries as well.”
“I’m not going to talk to you about this,” Hermione said stiffly.
“No, you want to talk to Harry because you think he’ll absolve you of your guilt,” Ginny returned angrily.
“Ron and I have been his friend for eight years,” Hermione said. “I think that demands a bit of loyalty from him.”
“He died for you,” Ginny growled. “He walked out into that forest by himself to die so that all of us could live. He doesn’t owe you anything!”
“You’re twisting everything I say,” Hermione said angrily. “I know what he’s done — probably much better than you. I’m not talking about that — I’m talking about friendship. We’ve offered him friendship and given so much to our friendship that we didn’t even start dating until May.”
“No,” Ginny interrupted. “You don’t get to blame him because you two are idiots.”
“Ron has been his best mate for eight years,” Hermione continued ignoring Ginny’s interruption. “Harry should have tried harder to help him. We were there for him.”
“When?” Ginny demanded. “When he was sent to his horrible relatives and you two didn’t write to him? Did you even try to understand what he was going through?”
“Well…we were there,” Hermione repeated.
“Yes, you were there telling him that he was imagining things about Draco,” Ginny said mockingly. “I’m not letting you talk to him and get him all upset. He tried to help Ron, but Ron wasn’t willing to be helped. Not to mention the 100 Galleon bar bill that Harry paid. Harry also paid Gringotts’ entire fine — it was supposed to be the three of you not just him.”
“I didn’t realize that,” Hermione said in surprise. She sighed. “I don’t want to argue. I just want to
apologize to Harry. I didn’t mean to hurt him and I feel badly that I injured him. I was angry that he didn’t do more to help Ron and I took out all of my frustration on him.”
“I will relay your apology,” Ginny said.
Hermione made to push past Ginny when Seamus emerged from the curtained area. “Hermione, I believe Ginny made her wishes clear.”
“I have been Harry’s best friend for years,” Hermione said in frustration.
“I am his fiancée,” Ginny replied. “I don’t want you to see him right now. When you get back you can talk.”
Hermione weighed her options. She could probably get past Ginny and Seamus, but did she really want to cause more hard feelings. Surely if Harry was awake, he’d have said something by now. Hermione gave in with ill grace. “Fine, I will talk to him when I get back.”
Seamus stayed to make sure she left while Ginny headed back into Harry’s bedside.
Early the next morning, Harry woke and looked around in confusion. He easily recognized the Hogwarts’s infirmary and after a moment the memory of the day before flooded back. He closed his eyes, he didn’t really want to recall what had happened. He’d seen Hermione in a temper, but it had never been directed at him before.
Should he have given Ron another chance? Could he have done something differently? He wished more than anything that he hadn’t just gone and picked Ron up last Saturday.
“Good morning.” Harry started as Ginny entered his curtained off area and leaned over and kissed him. She sat down next to him. “You’re second guessing yourself, aren’t you?”
He shrugged. “I hate that they are both mad at me. I could have picked Ron up again. I’ve done it so many times before, why couldn’t I have done it again?”
“Because you were being a good friend and thinking of what was best for Ron in the long run and not what would make him happy right at that moment,” Ginny said patiently.
He sighed. “I was okay with everything until Hermione started in on me. She’s never been that angry at me before — I didn’t expect that.”
“She’s sorry,” Ginny offered. “She stopped by last night on her way to the Burrow, but I didn’t want her to wake you.”
“That was a good call,” Harry said. “I wasn’t really up for another confrontation.”
Reaching out he laced his fingers through her’s and brought her hand up to kiss the back of her hand. “Thank you for looking out for me.”
Her smile lit up her face. “Of course, love. That’s my job.”
“So what happened yesterday? I know Hermione’s going to the Burrow, but did I hear Kingsley’s voice?”
Ginny told him everything he’d missed from the previous evening. “Don’t worry, Professor Carter was very understanding. Susan took notes for both of us. Seamus missed most of the class as well. He helped me bring you up here and he stayed with me.”
“He’s a good friend,” Harry said with a smile.
Madam Pomfrey bustled in and smiled at the young couple. “Good morning. How are you feeling, Mr Potter?”
“Good,” Harry replied.
“Very good,” she replied absently as she ran her wand over him. “You are recovering quite nicely. I’d like to give you one more round of potions, but after breakfast you are released. Please let your Matron know if you have any pain during the week. I’d like to see you briefly next week when you return for your class.”
“Thank you,” Harry said sincerely. His eyes widened. “Ginny, you have a match today.”
She nodded. “You are coming. I spoke to Professor McGonagall and she said that you can stay until after the match.”
Harry spent a pleasant morning with Ginny and her teammates before watching the match with Dean and Luna.
“You miss it, don’t you?” Dean asked as he watched Harry watching the Quidditch team.
“I do,” Harry replied. “I’ve played a few pickup games with some of the Aurors, but it’s not the same.”
“Did you think about going for a professional team? I’m sure you’d have been signed right away,” Dean said.
“I thought about it, but I didn’t feel right playing Quidditch when there’s so much work to be done at the Ministry,” Harry explained. He shrugged. “I’m sure Ginny will make it onto the Harpies next year and I couldn’t imagine competing against her. I’ll just live vicariously through her.”
Watching Ginny lead her team to victory was the perfect ending to the week for Harry. He wished he could have stayed a bit longer, but he was grateful for the time he’d been able to spend with her.
Hermione made her way down to the kitchen. Mrs Weasley was sitting at the table reading the paper.
“Good morning, dear,” Mrs Weasley smiled. She bustled over to the stove and prepared Hermione a plate of bacon and eggs. Hermione helped herself to some toast from the rack and a cup of tea.
“Thank you, Mrs Weasley.” Hermione smiled as she dug into the food. It was her third morning at the Burrow and she was glad she was here.
“What are you plans for today?” the older witch asked.
“Ron and I are going Exeter to do some sightseeing,” Hermione said. “They have a walking tour of the cathedral that I want to do. I’ve never really seen much of this part of the country and I thought it would be a nice relaxing day.”
Mrs Weasley nodded. “It sounds lovely.”
Clomping footsteps were heard making their way downstairs. Mrs Weasley headed to the stove and prepared a large plate for her youngest son. She gave the couple a bit of privacy as they greeted each other before bringing Ron over his plate.
As the young couple ate, Mrs Weasley watched them covertly over her paper. She felt so badly for everything that was happening to them and felt a bit of guilt as well. She thought that if she had handled her grief better than perhaps she would have been there to help her children. In theory she agreed with her husband’s decision to make Ron face the consequences of his actions, but she was rather glad that she had not had to make that decision because she didn’t think she would have been able to be so firm.
George had agreed to give Ron the week off, but Ron still had to perform his community service hours. An agreement had been reached with the Ministry and Ron was to perform eight to ten hours a week for fifteen weeks. Ron was going to be working with the Diagon Alley rebuilding committee and one of the refugee camps that had sprung up in the wake of the war. Several of the camps had closed, but there were still some camps and they were full of people in need.
Mrs Weasley thought Ron was looking a bit better since Hermione arrived. He looked more rested, he didn’t have dark circles under his eyes, and even his skin was clearer. She knew that he was thrilled to have the time to spend with Hermione, even it if was something he would never admit out loud. As she watched them, she was ashamed to admit there was a world of difference between the couple in front of her and her daughter and Harry.
It was hard to admit that she had been so wrong. From the first time she’d met Hermione, it seemed that the girl was perfect for Ron. She was smart and clever and she was very organized. Mrs Weasley had always thought it was only a matter of time for the pair to get together, but watching them now she realized that while they were obviously attracted to each other and happy together, they still weren’t comfortable with each other as boyfriend and girlfriend. She was certain it would come, but Ron was still rather uncomfortable with expressing his emotions and she suspected that Hermione was waiting for Ron to take the lead.
Several hours later, Ron was watching Hermione with a smile on his face. She was so enthralled with the cathedral and it’s history. They’d taken a walking tour around the cathedral and also walked along the city walls. Hermione was so interested in so many things. It amazed him how she was so smart and she had chosen to be with him.
When he’d first heard about her attack on Harry, he didn’t really know what to think. He was a bit upset at Harry himself, but to have Hermione stand up for him like that was amazing. It was wonderful to have Hermione on his side. She didn’t think he had huge problems like his parents and brothers. He wasn’t smoking around her because he didn’t think she would appreciate it.
As he watched, Hermione pulled her cloak more snuggly around her. It was a rather cold, crisp day with a bit of wind, but it was a clear day without clouds. There weren’t a lot of people around which suited Ron just fine. He still wasn’t overly comfortable around Muggles and he was happy to let Hermione handle the money.
Hand-in-hand they walked through the town. He squeezed her hand and she looked up at him. He smiled. “I’m glad you’re here.”
Her face glowed at his statement. “I’m glad I’m here, too. I was a bit upset when Professor McGonagall told me I had to take the week off, but I’m glad to have the time to spend with you.”
He was sure he had a goofy grin on his face, but he couldn’t help it. “It helps, having you here.” As they walked along, he said, “I’ve been thinking about everything and I probably have been drinking too much. It…it was fun at first. George and I would go out after work and go drinking with some of the shop clerks from the other shops on the Alley.”
He fell silent for a moment. “It’s so hard working with George. I mean I love the work, it’s fun, but it just reminds me every single day that F-fred is not here. I think I need to do well, but it is hard to fill his shoes. I’m not as creative as he was and I know sometimes George gets a little frustrated with me. He’s not used to having to explain things — he and Fred just knew what the other was thinking — so to slow down and have to tell me what to do is frustrating to him.”
“But you are smart,” Hermione defended him. “George can’t expect you to just take Fred’s place.”
“No, that’s not it,” Ron protested. He sighed. “I’m probably not explaining things right. George knows there is no way I could ever take Fred’s place. He doesn’t expect me to, but if I’m to work with him I need to be able to contribute and sometimes I just feel like I can’t even do that. I didn’t do well in potions and I am not good at coming up with new ideas. I need to find out how I can contribute to the shop.”
“You will be able to,” Hermione said stoutly.
“I guess,” Ron replied. “I-I’m just afraid that everyone expects so much of me and I don’t want to let anyone down. I know I’ve been acting like a bit of a prat, but Harry — he just has everything together. He doesn’t understand what it’s like to have so much pressure to make your family proud.”
Hermione nodding understandingly and it made him feel better. He continued, “We started just going out at night and drinking and when I was drinking I…I just felt better and didn’t feel the pressure. I realize that I shouldn’t be drinking so much, but…I don’t like Harry telling what I should be doing. He doesn’t know what it’s like to lose a brother. He doesn’t have to live up to the expectations of his family. It’s not fair — he suddenly seems to have everything figured out and I feel left behind.”
“He shouldn’t be telling you what to do,” Hermione agreed. She smiled up at her boyfriend. “You’ll do this — I know you can.”
Potter Caught Cheating!
Harry Potter was spotted out and about with fellow Auror trainee, Susan Bones, yesterday. The couple
has been spotted in London hot spots since the early summer. While Potter is reportedly engaged to his Hogwarts’ sweetheart, Ginny Weasley, he has not been seen with her in months.
Rumour has reached London of a fight between Potter and his long-time friend, Hermione Granger. Could Miss Granger have been defending Miss Weasley’s honour? The reasons behind a recent rift between Potter and his close friend, Ron Weasley, become much clearer. It has been suggested that Weasley was enraged that his supposed friend would treat his sister so badly.
A juicy new rumour reached this reporter from Hogwarts. It appears that Miss Weasley may have been pregnant with Mr Potter’s child. Could this be the reason for her seclusion? The rumoured fight between Mr Potter and Miss Granger hinted at Mr Potter having taken advantage of Miss Weasley and stealing her innocence. It might be that Miss Granger didn’t want to accuse Mr Potter of fathering Miss Weasley’s child in public.
Our thoughts are with Miss Weasley! We hope that she chooses more wisely in her next relationship.
Ron’s face turned steadily redder as he read the article. He threw the paper down. “Stupid reporters!”
Hermione blushed as she read the article. “I shouldn’t have confronted Harry in front of the Great Hall. So many people must have heard our fight.” She looked over at Mrs Weasley. “I am so sorry. I never meant to infer anything about Ginny.”
“I know, dear,” Mrs Weasley reassured her. “I wish that Ginny had listened to reason. She is too young to be engaged. This is what the third or fourth article about Harry and that girl.”
“Mum, you know it isn’t true,” Ron spoke up. “I might be upset with him, but I know Harry would never cheat on Ginny. He’s crazy about her.”
“That may be, but he’s damaged her reputation beyond repair,” Mrs Weasley protested.
“Not with people who count, Mum,” Ron reassured her.
Madam Florence arrived at the Burrow shortly after lunchtime. After reassuring Mrs Weasley that no one took the Daily Prophet article seriously, she headed for the sitting room to meet with Hermione.
“Good afternoon,” she greeted the younger witch.
“Good afternoon,” Hermione replied as she sat on the sofa facing the older woman.
Smiling gently at the younger witch, Madam Florence said, “I think that both of you have made amazing strides this past week. I’m very proud of you.”
“Thank you,” Hermione said looking pleased.
“I think we need to talk about Harry,” Madam Florence said. “As I’m sure you know, I’ve spoken to Ron quite extensively about his relationship with Harry. I think he can see a bit more clearly how his actions affected Harry.”
Hermione nodded, she and Ron had spoken at length about Ron’s meetings with Madam Florence. “I still think Harry should have had Ron’s back a little better. We’ve had his back for a long time and he didn’t give Ron the same courtesy.”
“So you think he should have allowed Ron to keep going out drinking and getting into fights?”
“No, but he could have given Ron some space. He didn’t need to go to Bill or Mr Weasley,” Hermione protested. “We’ve always honoured his requests in the past. We didn’t tell anyone about Professor Umbridge because he didn’t want us to.”
“Do you think that was the best decision?” Madam Florence probed.
Hermione flushed. “Maybe not, but we did as he asked.”
“So you think he should have done as Ron wanted?”
Hermione looked uncertain. Madam Florence pressed on. “I understand that Harry was getting called to retrieve Ron in the early morning hours once or twice a week for months now. Ron told me that Harry tried to talk to him about his drinking and Ron wouldn’t listen.”
When Hermione still didn’t seem convinced, Madam Florence said, “Hermione, I know you place a lot of importance on schooling. Imagine it was you who was in training for your dream job and at least once a week you were awakened after midnight sometimes closer to two in the morning. Once you were awake, you had to get dressed and go down to the pub to retrieve your friend — convince them to return home with you and put them to bed. Often this would include having to make arrangements in case they vomit during the night and making Hang Over Potion for them. The whole process could take up to two hours before you could return to sleep.”
Hermione’s eyes widened as she thought through what Madam Florence was saying. “I guess I hadn’t really thought about what it meant for Harry to help Ron. I would have been upset if that happened every week.”
“Harry tried to talk to Ron first, but Ron just told him he’d never lost a brother. While he may not have lost a brother, but he’s lost many people in his life and I believe he knows quite well what it feels like to lose someone you love.”
Hermione nodded. “That is true.” She dropped her gaze. “I really do owe him an apology. I wish Ginny had just let me talk to him. It wasn’t right of her to keep me from him. I hate that it’s going to be almost two weeks before I can talk to him. Professor McGonagall said I could talk to him, Ginny shouldn’t have kept me from talking to him.”
“Tell me about Ginny,” Madam Florence said. “How do the two of you get along?”
Hermione shrugged. “We get along fine. I’ve stayed in her room during the summer for several years now. We were the only girls in a house of boys. She always wanted advice on Harry and it was nice to have a friend who was a girl.”
“So she looked up to you,” Madam Florence commented.
“Yes, I’m almost two years older than her,” Hermione said. “We come from very different backgrounds. I’m an only child and she’s the youngest of seven. She was very shy and uncertain of herself when we first met. It was the summer after the Chamber of Secrets and Ginny was very scared that I would hate her. I think she was also scared that I liked Harry. Once she realized that I wasn’t interested in Harry, she started turning to me for advice.”
“And now she no longer needs that advice,” Madam Florence pointed out gently.
Hermione flushed and nodded. She started worrying the edge of the pillow next to her. “In some ways she’s surpassed me. She’s much more socially adept than I am. I don’t make friends as easily as she does.”
“But you always had that inside information on Harry.”
“She doesn’t need that now,” Hermione said. “She had the nerve to tell me that Ron and I weren’t there
for Harry as much as I think we were. I know what happened, much better than she does. She was never around us, she doesn’t know all that we went through. What right does she have to tell me I can’t see my own best friend?”
“She’s his fiancée,” Madam Florence reminded her. She watched the young girl sitting across from her as she seemed to struggle with something. “Does it bother you that you aren’t the most important girl in Harry’s life anymore? That he turns to her now and not you?”
Hermione’s flushed face and averted eyes told the therapist all she needed to know. “Hermione it is only natural that Harry would turn to her. She is going to be his wife. But that doesn’t mean that he doesn’t have a place for your friendship. I understand he still writes to you and he’s still your friend.”
“He is, but it’s different,” Hermione complained. “That might be why I overreacted a bit. In the past, Harry never would have gone to someone else. He would have solved the problem himself and then Ron never would have gotten into trouble. I expected him to do that this time, but Ginny suggested he talk to Bill so that’s what he did.”
“So he took her advice over yours.”
“He never even told me his concerns,” Hermione replied a touch angrily. “I’m Ron’s girlfriend. If he was worried about Ron he should have talked to me, not her.”
“What would your advice have been? If Harry came to you and told you that he was concerned that Ron was drinking too much, what would you have said?”
“I don’t know,” Hermione admitted uncertainly. She thought about it for a few minutes, honestly she’d thought about it quite a bit over the past few weeks and she hated to admit that she didn’t know the best answer. “I guess Harry was right in looking for help when he couldn’t do anything. I just wish Ron could have avoided being arrested. It doesn’t seem fair that Ron has to deal with that now on top of everything else.”
“That isn’t fair,” Madam Florence agreed, “but as I’m sure you are well aware life often isn’t fair.”
Hermione nodded unhappily. Madam Florence said, “I realize this must be difficult for you, but relationships change as people get older. It’s not necessarily a bad thing. Your relationship with Ron has changed, right?”
Hermione’s blush was answer enough. Madam Florence smiled. “I’m sure that you have found that when you are with Ron you spend less time with Harry, right? So it only makes sense that Harry would spend less time with you when Ginny is around.”
“I do understand what you’re saying,” Hermione admitted. She sighed. “Harry is okay, right?”
“He is fine,” Madam Florence reassured her. “He spent the night in the hospital wing, but he’s back at work.”
Hermione was reading in the back garden of the Burrow when a shadow fell across her book. Looking up she almost dropped the book. “Harry!”
“Harry, I am so sorry,” Hermione said in a rush. “I was just so upset about everything with Ron and-”
He held up his hands. “I know, Hermione. I understand you being upset, but I don’t understand you attacking me in front of most of the school.”
She flushed. “I hadn’t planned to, but I’d just read a letter from Ron and he was very upset. I couldn’t believe that you and Mr Weasley had just let him be arrested.”
“What was I supposed to do?” Harry demanded. “That was the first weekend I had time with Teddy in several weeks and I didn’t want to drag Ron out of the pub especially if he’d been fighting. I didn’t want to get caught in a bar brawl because he was drunk and in a mood to fight! Do you have any idea how much sleep I’ve lost dragging him out of bars? I’ve gotten really good at brewing Hang Over Potion and I don’t even drink that much. For my efforts, Ron tells me I’m pathetic, I’m a laughing stock, and my favourite because I’ve never lost a brother I can’t tell him what to do. I’m not allowed to say anything, but he can vomit all over my house, smoke after I’ve asked him repeatedly not to, and make fun of me.”
“Smoking? Making fun of you? What are you talking about?” Hermione asked in confusion.
“He’s taken up smoking because the shop girls smoke,” Harry explained. “He’s been making fun of me because I’m in love with Ginny or some such crap — I don’t really know. I’m pathetic and people are laughing at me.”
“I didn’t know anything about that,” Hermione said, her mind racing. Ron had complained about Ginny feeding Harry or something, but she hadn’t really paid that much attention. Ron tended to complain about things just to complain — look how he always complained about Scabbers and Pig.
“Did you mean what you said?” Harry asked. When she didn’t answer right away, he pressed her. “Did you mean it that I owe you? I’ve apologized over and over for Malfoy Manor. I’ve apologized for my attitude my whole fifth year. I don’t know what else I can do.”
Hermione coloured as she recalled the angry words she’d thrown at her best friend. “I am really sorry about that. I know you don’t owe us anything. Ginny yelled at me for saying that. I…I don’t know what I can say except I’m really sorry.”
Harry watched her for a minute assessing her sincerity. “Okay, I accept your apology.” He grinned at her. “Merlin knows I’ve lost my temper enough times.”
Jumping up Hermione threw her arms around Harry. “Thank you. I’ve been so worried all week. I really value our friendship I was really afraid I’d wrecked it.”
“No, you didn’t wreck our friendship,” Harry reassured her. He spent some time with Hermione repairing the cracks that had appeared in their friendship.
“Do you want to come into dinner?” she asked as the sky darkened.
He shook his head. “I don’t get the impression that Ron is ready to talk to me yet and to be honest I’m not sure what I would say to him. I’m glad that we are back on track and I’m sure that Ron and I will eventually as well, but I’m tired of making all of the gestures. He needs to show me that he is ready to be my friend again and he needs to accept that I am in love with his sister. Until he can do that…” Harry shrugged. “I hope he’ll come around. I miss my best mate.”
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