The Comforts of Silence

Darkness. Everything was enveloped in darkness and silence. Only the remnants of last night's fire cast dim light across the deserted common room and the faint crackling of the burning wood broke the stillness, making the illuminated corners look more haunted and menacing.

But Harry Potter didn't care. He couldn't care less about the spooky shadows that surrounded him. He couldn't care less about anything.

In fact, he needed to stop caring.

Yes, that was what he needed to do—to stop caring. To stop caring in order to save others from falling into the same fate that many had suffered because of him. A mere association with the name Harry Potter was worth their lives.

Harry snorted bitterly. And still people think being Harry Potter was something worth to be envied upon.

Maybe making the whole wizarding world peaceful for a couple of years that made him famous before he could even talk was something; but how about losing his parents at a very early age, growing up with Muggle relatives who thought he was a big walking rubbish, facing death six times in the last six years, and having a mad Dark wizard and his cult followers on his tail ready to kill him at the drop of a hat?

He was right; nobody would ever want any of that.

Harry couldn't help but wish that Voldemort had chosen a different person instead of him. If that were the case, he would probably be just an ordinary wizard. He could walk around the halls of Hogwarts without the curious stares and hushed conversation of the other students; he could go wherever he wanted to without the worry of getting ambushed by Death Eaters; he could freely love anyone without the fear of losing them all because Voldemort had decided that making Harry miserable was his number one priority.

And Voldemort had done it again.

Harry buried his face in his hands at the thought of the members of the Order and the D.A. in St. Mungo's, injured. Some might even be already dead. And they wouldn't be there if it weren't because of him. They were in a war, all right; but it was still because of his certain knack in attracting trouble that got them there.

Yesterday was the last Hogsmeade weekend of the term and there he had been, enjoying the early summer day with Ron, Hermione, and Ginny when a number of hooded figures appeared. Pandemonium had reigned everywhere. Terrified students had stampeded back to the castle or to any nearby shelter. And with Harry as their main target, the Death Eaters had surrounded them. Some members of the D.A. that were nearby had come to their rescue, firing Disarming spells at the Death Eaters. The diversion had given Harry the chance to catch some of them off guard.

But the combined strength of the whole D.A had still been no match to the ferocity of the Death Eaters. They had fired the Unforgivables here and there; most of the D.A. fell to the ground, writhing in pain. Harry was one of the few who had been left standing, shooting counter curses and protecting as many as he could from the enemy.

The Order had arrived not a minute after; however, the Death Eaters had gathered more in number that Hogsmeade had become a mini-battlefield. The arrival of the Order, and later by Ministry Aurors, had given Harry and the rest enough distraction to hurry back to Hogwarts. He had been helping Ginny stand up when she saw one of the hooded figures creeping up behind them. She had called Harry's attention at the same time the Death Eater fired a curse at them. Bill, who had been standing nearby, pushed them out of the way, the spell hitting him before he could even cast a Shield Charm. They had gone rushing to Bill's side but Lupin had stopped and told them to rush back to the castle.

The Death Eaters put up a good fight that the standoff had lasted for hours. They only Disapparated all too suddenly when they learned that Harry had managed to slip between their fingers. Harry had known from Dumbledore hours later about Bill's and the others' condition in St. Mungo's and the infirmary. He then had spent the night tossing and turning, willing for sleep to come, until he finally gave up and went down to the empty common room.

He couldn't help but feel responsible for what had happened to them. If it hadn't been for him, none of these would happen. They wouldn't be spending Merlin-knows-how-many-days in the hospital wing. If it weren't for him, their lives wouldn't be at risk.

I'd had always been because of him; nobody else but him.

"Hey."

Slightly startled, Harry turned his head around and saw Ginny standing behind him, a faint smile on her face.

"Hey."

"Couldn't sleep?"

He shook his head and brought his attention back to the dying fire. If sleep would mean dreaming of yesterday's events, he'd rather forgo it. Too many things had been haunting him already; he didn't need another.

"Me neither," he heard Ginny say followed by the faint rustling of footwear against the hearthrug and the slight creaking of the adjacent armchair as Ginny sat down.

Silence, once again, filled the room. Minutes had already passed but neither of them said anything. The sound of the burning wood and their occasional sighs and deep breaths were the only ones that penetrated the otherwise thick silence.

But for some reason, Harry found this comforting. He felt calmer, more relaxed, less troubled, as though someone had taken each and every burden of his away. He leaned back on his armchair, a relaxed sigh slicing the silence.

Harry glanced at Ginny; she was still sitting there, hugging her knees, her chin propped on top of them. She might have already fallen asleep, he thought. He was about to stand up from his chair to get his blanket for her to use when he heard her sigh. He stayed on his seat as he watched her pull her knees closer, her eyes still fixed on the fireplace.

Some force made it difficult for him to tear his eyes away from Ginny. The fire was reflected on her hair, the red and gold strands glowed even more, making it appear more vibrant than ever. It looked so soft, so smooth to touch. And even in semi-darkness, he could still see those shining brown eyes, and the faint glow of the firelight made it even brighter to him. Ginny must had felt someone was watching her and glanced up at Harry. Their eyes met; she smiled faintly.

An hour had probably passed ever since they started sitting there. He wanted to thank Ginny for her lack of questioning; if she had been Hermione, he might have already been bombarded with dozens of questions if he was all right, what was bothering him, and all the other questions she could come up with. But Ginny never did; she didn't force him to talk if he didn't want to. This wasn't the first time they had sat together in silence. She had found him a lot of times last year sitting alone in the empty common room lost in his thoughts and she would just sit there with him. At first, he wanted to tell Ginny that he wanted to be alone, but she never bothered him when he didn't want to be bothered that he never told her to leave him be. He welcomed her presence, and her presence had always been calming.

Just like now.

When he went down to the common room, Harry felt like a lost child who woke up in the middle of the night, frightened because of the creepy shadows that were dancing inside the room. No one was there with him; he was all alone, having only those scary figures taunting him. He wanted to reach out for his mother's hand, only to realize that she was not there. He started crying, hoping his mum would hear him and come and pick him up from his cradle, soothing him and telling him that everything was going to be all right. And the minute Ginny sat there with him, he had started feeling just like that. The angry silence slowly turned into a calming one. He felt as though his mother was there, singing to him and putting him into another peaceful sleep.

Guilt, then, started to slowly creep into him. He would perfectly understand if Ginny would want to have nothing to do with him. Her father had been nearly killed two years ago because of him, and now Bill was in St. Mungo's because he had saved Harry from one of the curses aimed at him. But still, she was here with him like nothing had happened.

"I'm so sorry," he said after a while, his voice croaking a little.

Ginny raised her head a little. "Hmm?"

"If it weren't for me, Bill wouldn't have—"

"Shh…it wasn't your fault, Harry."

"No, you don't understand, Ginny," he said, looking up at her. It almost broke him when he saw her eyes—bright, comforting, understanding. Not a single trace of anger or accusation could be found in them. "It's because of me that—"

"Don't blame yourself, Harry. We don't blame you—I don't blame you."

Harry looked down, feeling guiltier than ever. The Weasleys were the only ones who accepted him wholeheartedly. They treated him as a family and yet they always suffered because of him. He always subjected them to pain; he brought nothing but trouble for them.

"I don't want anyone else to get hurt," he whispered. He chanced a look at Ginny—her face was partly in shadows but he knew her eyes were on him; he could feel their familiar, consoling gaze.

Another blanket of silence fell upon them. He wanted to tell her to get away from him—to disassociate herself from him just to save herself from getting hurt. She nearly got herself killed yesterday all because she was in the wrong place at the wrong time and in the company of the wrong person—him. And seeing Ginny hurt was the last thing he wanted. But then he couldn't—he couldn't get the words out of his lips. He couldn't send her away.

Harry felt a gentle hand squeeze his shoulders. He glanced up and there was Ginny, standing beside him. Their eyes met; and for a moment, he felt the one thing he had been wishing for since he was little.

Having someone beside him, who understands, loves, and cares for him unconditionally.

Then everything happened so suddenly that it almost came naturally. Harry found himself crying in Ginny's arms, all of the defenses he had built around himself from the past years had came crumbling down. He didn't even know what had triggered the tears, all he knew was the soothing feeling her hands were making as she tenderly stroke his back.

"It's okay, Harry," she whispered gently. "I'm here. I'll be always here."

Two months later, there they were, sitting in front of the fireplace at number twelve, Grimmauld Place on the night before they leave for King's Cross for Harry's final year at Hogwarts. It had become their habit to cuddle in front of the fire and watch its dying embers until sleep overcome them. Like before, they would just sit there for hours; just sitting, talking seemed to be—and had always been—unnecessary.

Ginny shifted a little, moving her head closer to his neck that Harry could feel her hair tickling his skin. The feeling of having her in his arms as if protecting her from the cruelties of the world never failed to amaze him, as though it was the only thing he needed to do, have, and feel for the rest of his life. It felt so true. So right.

The thought of all the things that lie ahead crossed his mind—from the little things like winning the Quidditch Cup for the third year in a row and earning more detentions with Snape, to the bigger things like the N.E.W.T.s, the chance of facing Voldemort once again, in which he might or might not survive, and the inevitable fulfillment of the prophecy. Those things were far too many—some were far too grave—to mention them all.

Still, Harry couldn't help the smile that was spreading across his face as he gently stroked her hair and lulled her to sleep. The mere thought of Ginny sitting there with him, feeling her heart beat in perfect rhythm with his, and having her right beside him as he face all these somehow made the dark destiny that had been laid down before him seem a little bit brighter.

I finally found what I'm looking for
Though the road is still long
And the light is still far

– "When You're Gone" by Hanson


A/N: Loads of love and kisses to JennaMae (Great minds think alike :p) and MaiJade for the beta and to Galena for telling me that I made her cry. If not for them, I might have just decided not to post my entry. Thank you, muse, for being good just for once and cooperating with me. But I know you could have done better.