Harry Potter Book 7
"We are gathered here today…" Harry listened to the priest for all of three seconds before turning his thoughts to more important matters. Fleur and Bill began reciting their vows as Harry tried to watch Ginny out of the corner of his eyes. He was sitting in between Ron and Hermione on the edge of a row in a church in the village down the road from the Burrow.
It hadn't been long ago that he and Dumbledore had found the fake horcrux, which even now was resting against his leg in the pocket of his jacket. He still had not come to terms with Dumbledore's death, or at least that's what Ron had told him Hermione was saying behind his back. He gritted his teeth. People were so interested in getting him to accept Dumbledore's fate and concentrate on the matters at hand, that they seemed to have forgotten that the greatest wizard of all time had been murdered by a traitorous scumbag who was still walking free. He WILL NOT walk free for much longer Harry swore. He had been repeating that very same oath almost every day since it had happened, and people were beginning to worry about his sanity.
Everyone began standing up all at once, Harry could see Mrs Weasley in front of him, dabbing at her eyes with a tissue, arm in arm with her husband following the new Mr and Mrs Weasley, Fleur in her beautiful flowing gown, arm in arm with her own, new, proud looking husband. Harry purposefully avoided the Weasley matriarch, she had been trying to persuade him to go back to Hogwarts in September which he would not do. Harry suspected that she partly wanted him to stay for Ron's benefit, as he had insisted on accompanying Harry wherever he went in his quest against Voldemort. Harry sighed as he followed the procession back to the Weasley's garden. The ceremony had been small, in light of recent events and so the few people who had been invited were being accompanied to a small get together at the Burrow. Harry couldn't say he was particularly happy or unhappy about this. It did mean that at some point he may be able to slip away up to his and Ron's room early, but the smaller space meant it more likely that various people would find it easier to track him down. Professor McGonagall had been sending him owls on a regular basis, ordering him in her politest terms to tell him what he and Dumbledore had been doing the past year. The truth was that they had been researching the life of Tom Riddle or, as he became, Lord Voldemort, in order to find a weakness. They had managed to conceive a plan; they would track down the last of the horcruxes, special objects that Voldemort had bewitched with a part of his soul, so that he could make himself practically immortal. They would destroy every one; rendering him 'human' and then Voldemort could be destroyed. Except there was no 'they' anymore. Dumbledore was dead. Gone. There was no-one to help him now. Harry trudged down the hill from the church, hands in pockets, staring grimly at the floor. He could hear Ron and Hermione whispering behind him, debating which one of them this time should try and talk to him. He sped up to get away from them and soon found himself walking with the ever-shabby Professor Lupin, the only person who seemed to have lost as much as Harry. First another of his best friends, Sirius and now Dumbledore, the only man whom had ever trusted and respected Lupin for the great man he was. For a while the young man and the prematurely aged wizard walked in silence, before Harry broke it,
"Nice service." He said bluntly. Lupin smiled but said nothing. Harry sighed again. He knew exactly what Lupin was feeling and as it was the same thing as him, he knew there was no comfort he could offer.
"When will you leave?" Asked Lupin after a while, as though continuing a conversation after a short pause. Harry didn't have to ask what he was talking about,
"As soon as possible. I don't want to wait or I'll never go." He answered honestly.
"Are Ron and Hermione still set on joining you?" The werewolf asked. This time it was Harry's turn to merely smile and nod,
"You know Molly isn't happy?" said Lupin, looking at Harry, who looked straight back,
"Yeah," he said sighing, "But you try telling those two they can't come." He said ruefully,
"Do you have any idea where to look for the next horcrux?" Came the inevitable question. Harry knew it was safe to discuss it with Lupin, who was the only one apart from Ron and Hermione and Ginny he had told everything to,
"I'm going to try Godric's Hollow. I want to go there first anyway, to see…you know…" Lupin nodded, Harry didn't want to talk about graves and scenes of death right now, in fact he found all he wanted to talk about was pleasant things like Bill and Fleur, although that had its down side. Bill was still working for the order even after his fight with Greyback, so Fleur was in danger of losing her new husband any day. He'd heard that she cried about the prospect regularly. He couldn't say he blamed her.
"Nice service." Harry said again,
"Don't say that anywhere near Tonks, Harry, I don't want her getting any ideas." He grinned and Harry smiled back, both of them glancing ahead to see Tonks' trademark spiky, bubble-gum pink hair bobbing along next to what looked like Kingsley Shacklebolt.
"So…are you and her…?" He left it open.
"I guess so…" he sighed,
"You guess so?" Harry asked with a grin,
"Well it's a little hard to say no," he replied, going slightly red but raising an eyebrow all the same. Harry chuckled,
"Good for you, Remus." Harry had never called him that before, it felt strange, as the first, entire year Harry had known him, he'd been his professor. Lupin smiled and looked at him strangely,
"What?" Harry asked frowning,
"You could almost be James, looking the way you do, and calling me by my first name."
"I can call you professor if you want me to?" Harry asked with a grin.
"I think we're a little past that now, Harry," said the old Professor, laughing ruefully. They reached the Burrow and followed the small group into the back garden where everyone sat at a long table that Bill conjured out of thin air to cheers from the crowd. Harry took a chair at the end and found himself sitting opposite Ginny.
"Hey." She said quietly,
"Hi." Harry replied. Ginny smiled at him but there was a sadness in her eyes, which Harry knew was because of him.
"Ginny, I…" he began, not really knowing what to say,
"I'm going to get something to eat," she said, standing up suddenly. She still had that rigid smile on her face but Harry could tell she was trying to get away as quickly as possible. She left for the buffet table without a word and Harry sighed yet again. This was why he hadn't wanted to come to this stupid wedding. So many reasons not to come, and so few to the opposite. Hermione and Ron came and sat down with him.
"You doing all right, mate?" asked Ron, looking shiftily at Ginny who had settled herself next to Tonks a way down the table. Her food conspicuously absent,
"Of course he's not, Ron," said Hermione frowning, "Harry, she does still love you, you know, it's just you were the one who said it couldn't be that way and so she's just trying to make it easier on the both of you."
"I know Hermione." Harry said. He missed Ginny. A lot. He hadn't realised quite how much till he saw her today. It left a gaping whole in his life; it made his throat burn when he thought about it, when he saw her sitting away from him, avoiding his gaze. He knew she was not mad at him, but he also knew that it was him that was causing her pain and that she was trying to minimise the pain by minimising contact with him. If that's what she wanted then that was what he would do, anything that would lessen her pain was ok by him. Harry spent the rest of the dinner talking to Ron and Hermione about insignificant things, avoiding the gaze of anyone who passed by. Eventually, Mr Weasley started up the old wizarding radio and The Weird Sister's blared out, causing most people to jump to their feet, with blushes as they were asked to dance. Suddenly, Ginny appeared at Harry's shoulder. Harry looked up at her, she was smiling and there were tears in her eyes. Harry stood up.
"This is my favourite song." She said simply, holding out her hand. Harry took it and they moved into a space. Ginny put her hands around his neck and he felt his knees weaken. He put his hands round her waist and they slowly danced their troubles away. Harry breathed in slowly, taking in the musky scent of her hair that reminded him of flowery summer's days.
Ginny sighed in his arms as the song rang it's final note, and the two slowly parted, Harry didn't want to remove his hands but if he didn't take them away soon, he'd never have the courage to do it. He looked into her beautiful brown eyes and smiled, she had tears running silently down her cheeks but she smiled back. Without a word she turned and sat down at the opposite end of the table to Ron and Hermione, next to Tonks, Harry watching her go, feeling depressed but that he'd at least tied up some loose ends before he left. Harry knew that even if he and Ginny could be together again, it would never be the same as it was. He sat back down opposite Ron and Hermione,
"We need to leave soon," he said firmly. He knew the other two were not eager to make a move but it had to be done, and soon.
"But the party's just getting started!" Exclaimed Ron. Hermione rolled her eyes, "He means to track down the horcruxes, Ronald," she admonished, "Yes, Harry, I've been thinking that too, I think it's important that we leave very soon, by at least next week. We're running out of time." Harry was slightly taken aback,
"I didn't think you wanted to go," he asked,
"Well, of course I don't want to go, none of us do, do we? It's just we have to go, and the later we leave it, the more people are going to suffer."
"She's right." Agreed Ron, his most serious expression plastered across his freckled face, "Everyday we hear about murders in the Prophet, if we deal with you-know…with Voldemort," he said wincing at his own words, "we can…you know…stop all that…you can stop all that, mate." He said earnestly. Harry nodded.
"Ron, are you ever going to ask me to dance?" Hermione asked exasperatedly, changing the subject suddenly. Ron blushed,
"Well…erm…wanna dance?" Hermione's face lit up, and the two of them left to tango to a quick ballad by the new wizarding band The Pickled Akidna's. Harry got up and made his way slowly to the back door of the Burrow, he tried to slip through it, but couldn't quite manage it before he was spotted by the new Headmistress of Hogwarts, Minerva Mcgonagal.
"Potter!" she called, and he groaned inwardly. The amount of times he had heard her shout that. It had almost always been followed by 'ten points from Gryffindor' or 'detention tomorrow at seven, my office!' This time was different, but by no means better.
"Potter, I've been meaning to talk to you. I know you've been avoiding me, and ignoring my owls-" her already thin lips narrowed further, "-but you have to tell me what you and Dumbledore were up to, it might be vital information for the Order to work with,"
"As I've told you many times before, Professor, it does not affect the Order or their efforts to capture and defeat Voldemort's death eaters. Yes, it does have something to do with Voldemort, but no, I will not tell you. I'll be leaving next week with Ron and Hermione to complete something that Dumbledore entrusted to me, which I intend to see out fully. I'm sorry Professor," he said sincerely, "there's nothing more I can tell you. However this turns out, you'll know soon enough.
"I'm glad to hear you're reopening Hogwarts." He said sadly, remembering the last time he was there for Dumbledore's funeral. The Professor sighed and looked at him closely,
"Yes, Harry," she said quietly, "You know he would have wanted it." Harry nodded, his throat constricted as it always did at the mention of his headmaster, "I found something when I was clearing out his desk. It's addressed to you. I would have sent it via owl, but I didn't want it intercepted, besides," she added stiffly, "you were ignoring my attempts to contact you, so I wasn't sure if you receiving my letters." Harry smiled at her annoyance, he realised that he was past the days when he was scared of her deducting points from Gryffindor. She handed over the envelope with out another word and swept over to where Mundungus Fletcher was trying to balance a pint of butterbeer on his nose to roaring encouragement from the Weasley twins. Harry looked down at the heavy parchment envelope and felt his throat constrict again. The envelope had the words To Mr Harry James Potter in Dumbledore's familiar loopy writing written neatly in the centre. Harry decided to abandon all pretence of common courtesy and swiftly left for Ron's room, ignoring Hestia Jones who was waving him over encouragingly. He realised, as he opened the door to Ron's room, that his hands were shaking. He locked the door with a quick charm and gently lowered himself onto the camp bed that Mrs Weasley had set up for him two nights ago. He took a deep, steadying breath than slit open the envelope carefully, and pulled out the letter that was contained within it.
As infallible as the wizarding world has come to believe I may be, this letter is coming to you from beyond the grave. Well, not precisely but I wrote this letter with the intention of it being delivered to you, if anything should happen to me before our task of locating and destroying the horcruxes was complete. Firstly, Harry, I must apologise, for all the pain and suffering I have lain upon your very broad, but still ever so young shoulders. The burden that has been placed before you is that like no other has ever faced and for the way you appear to hold it all in your stride, I respect you.
Harry could feel a prickling behind his eyes, just as he had done at Dumbledore's funeral. An insurmountable, unavoidable tide of grief threatened to engulf him, but he forced himself to read on.
This letter is not instructions on how to destroy the horcruxes, for I fear that it is not this that will be hardest for you. I believe that you will have no trouble in finding and destroying the remaining parts of Voldemort's soul. The reason I take time out of my hectic schedule of devouring Madame Pomfrey's supply of chocolate frogs, is to support you. I told you once of my mistakes in not telling you certain things about your future and your past, and the reason for that was, if you'll recall, love. Please forgive an old man's waffling Harry, you'll find that when you reach my age, it takes an awful lot longer to reach the point of a discussion, even one as single sided as this. I am trying to say Harry that I love you. I love you and have watched you like I would my own son, and I am so sorry to have left you alone in the world, without my guidance, however meagre it may be. But you see, my boy, there lies another of my mistakes, you are not alone, never are you alone in this world. I have watched carefully as a young man and a young lady have grown to become all the family you could ever need. I feel sure that Mr Weasley and Miss Granger (once they sort out their own 'differences') will be quite the guidance and support you shall ever need. So much so, in fact, that you'll wonder why you ever missed 'that barmy old codger' in the first place. It is not just Ron and Hermione though, you have the entire wizarding world willing to help you in your quest, and I beg of you Harry, do not undertake this alone. I know your bravery is not to be questioned, and therefore you may see fit to ban your friends from escorting you in your task, but you will need them, I feel sure of it. Do not refuse help Harry.
I will miss you and everybody else immensely, but know that I am never truly gone, for help shall always be available as long as those who remain stay loyal to me.
Your faithful servant,
Albus Percival Wulfric Brian Dumbledore.
Harry sat back and re-read the letter several times, clutching at the now wrinkled edges with shaking hands. His resolve, far from crumbling, had now been solidified.
It was a while before Harry felt up to rejoining the wedding party, but a shout from Ron up the stairs which he thought involved the words 'drunk', 'fight', 'boils' and 'twins' overrode his sombre mood and forced him down to the garden. While everyone was busy detangling the twins from a boil covered Mundungus Fletcher, Harry pulled Ron and Hermione aside.
"How about tomorrow?" He asked, not bothering to explain what he was talking about. Ron visibly paled, and Hermione's eyes looked watery.
"Isn't…isn't that a bit soon, mate?" Ron asked, looking a bit nervous. Harry had to control himself from biting his best friends head off,
"No. It isn't. Why wait? It's going to make things harder when we have to leave." Harry could sense their discomfort.
"I…I guess you're right." Hermione said quietly, "We'll…go and say our goodbye's." Harry nodded and went back up to Ron's room. Intent on packing his things, but when he reached the bright orange bedroom, it was not empty. Remus Lupin was sitting on Ron's bed. His old Professor was the only one who Harry was thinking of saying goodbye to, except for Ginny. He didn't want long drawn out farewells, but it seemed Lupin already knew something was afoot.
"So, it's tomorrow then?" and Harry nodded, "I'm sorry for barging in here, but you're so much like James I can read you like a book. I couldn't be sure you'd say goodbye before you up and left." He said, smiling slightly.
"I would have come and found you." He said honestly, to the last of the Marauders. Lupin's smile widened and he stood up.
"I'm not one for sentimental goodbyes-" he began and Harry recalled how swiftly and silently Lupin had left Hogwarts in his third year. Ironic how Harry had gone to find him before he left; now it was the other way around, "-so I'll keep it short." He continued, as he walked towards his best friend's son, "I know, without a doubt, that they would all be proud of you, Harry. All of them, your mother, your father, Sirius…and Dumbledore," he said, with an odd catch in his voice at the last name. He obviously was coping no better with the headmaster's death than Harry was. "And I want you to know that I am proud of you too. I will never have a son-" Harry remembered once learning in Lupin's own class that werewolves could never have children, "-but I think of you as the closest I could get." Lupin sighed, "Please, please be careful." He said looking down. Harry put a hand on his fathers brothers shoulder,
"I'll be fine." He promised trying to smile encouragingly.
"Are Ron and Hermione ready?" Lupin asked. It was Harry's turn to look down awkwardly, "You haven't told them?" asked Lupin, shocked,
"No, no, I've told them, but they seemed so scared and disappointed to leave. This doesn't mean the same thing for them as it does to me. They don't need to go. If I just leave without them tonight…well it'll make things a whole lot easier." Lupin frowned and Harry recalled Dumbledore's words in his letter 'I beg of you Harry, do not undertake this alone. I know your bravery is not to be questioned, and therefore you may see fit to ban your friends from escorting you in your task, but you will need them, I feel sure of it. Do not refuse help Harry. Harry shook the words out of his head.
"They will not be happy." Said Lupin. Harry shrugged,
"They won't be happy with me, no. But in the long term they'll be happy, once they finally settle down together," he observed, flashing Lupin a quick smile, despite the situation. "Just do me a favour? Keep them here for a week or so, before they inevitably try to come looking for me. They know I'm going to Godric's Hollow but I'll only be there a couple of nights. They don't know where I'm going after that." Lupin frowned again,
"Well, I'll try Harry, but we've all past the days where I can threaten to deduct house points. Although," he added thoughtfully, "I expect if I got Minerva to threaten them with detention they might sit up and listen." The two of them grinned, until Harry began stuffing a few key things into his ruck-sack,
"So are you going tonight?" asked Lupin, concern evident in his voice. Harry nodded, without looking up as he placed a new sneakoscope in his bag. This one had a silencing charm on it, as Harry's secrets about Voldemort were causing it to shriek hysterically every few moments.
"No point waiting around." He shrugged. Lupin nodded,
"I expect I should be getting back downstairs," he said half heartedly. Harry knew he was thinking about Tonks, and suddenly his mind drifted to Ginny.
"Can you ask Ginny to come up?" He asked his old professor, forcing the blush out of his cheeks. Lupin nodded. He gripped Harry's hand in a firm shake, then suddenly drew him into a one armed hug, slapping his back,
"Be careful." Remus muttered. Harry did not reply and the man walked quickly out of the room without a backward glance. Harry continued to retrieve his belongings from around Ron's room, and stuffed them hastily into the bag. He had to be quick, if he was planning on disapparating out of here without Ron and Hermione knowing he'd have to do it soon, before they came up to find him. There was a light knock on the door, and Harry swiftly crossed to open it. He found himself face to face with Ginny, who had a curious look in her eyes.
"I was wondering if I could talk to you quickly?" Harry asked, as Ginny opened her mouth. He held the door open a little wider and she stepped into the room. He watched her freeze as she saw his hastily packed bag, the rest of his possessions on the camp bed.
"You're…going?" She asked, sounding half upset, half resigned. Harry nodded,
"I wanted to say goodbye to you before though," he began, not looking her in the face. Neither of them said anything and Harry was alarmed to hear her sniff. He looked up to see silent tears pouring down her cheeks,
"Ginny…" he murmured, taking her in his arms, without thinking, without even stopping to consider that this would make it so much harder on the both of them. For what seemed like an age they simply stood, holding onto each other as though there was nothing more important in the whole world, and at that precise moment, it felt to Harry that nothing was.
"Please…" Ginny murmured, and Harry didn't want to hear her pray for him to stay or anything else really, but she surprised him slightly, "Please, please defeat him…I know that's what you're going to do, but losing you…if you're going to go away for…well it had just better be worth it!" she cried pushing him away, almost angrily, but he wasn't offended…if anything it made him love her even more, she had the strength to move apart, that he did not.
"Gin…it'll all work out in the end…you'll see," he smiled, and genuinely, as he reached up to tuck a coppery curl behind her ear, that musky, flowery smell wafting towards him. She smiled back, though a little less confidently. "Don't worry I'll write to you all the time, I promise…though I don't know how often I'll actually be able to send the letters on…the owls could be too easy to track. And that reminds me…" he turned towards the window where Hedwig was perching in her cage asleep, "I want you to…to look after Hedwig for me…she's too conspicuous in the wild…and I want you to have her anyway." He'd always known how Ginny had admired the owl, and her eye's widened momentarily, before they took on a stiff resolve,
"You can have her back when you get home…" she said. Harry nodded and without another word Ginny took the sleeping owl and swept from the room, barely holding back a sniffle. Harry sighed, crossed the room and shut the door. Just like Lupin, Ginny had not been able to look him in the eye before she left. They were treating him like he was on his death bed. Maybe he was. He continued to pack the rest of his belongings, and when he was done he sat heavily on the camp bed. There was just one last thing he thought he should do before he left, so he grabbed some parchment and a quill off of Ron's drawers and sat down to write the hardest letter of his life.
Dear Ron and Hermione,
Okay, I know you two are probably climbing the walls, but just don't be too mad alright? I saw the look in your eye's when I said it was about time we left, and I knew you didn't want to go with me. I know that this isn't really your battle. You shouldn't have to go through this, and I know you're torn between wanting to stay and wanting to support me, so I thought I'd make the decision for you. I've already left. Speak to Lupin for me, will you? He already knew before I left, but don't be angry that he didn't warn you, I asked him not to. Oh, and look after him will you, while I'm gone, after Sirius I think he'll be pretty lonely. I've said goodbye to Ginny already, and yes she did know, and no, Hermione, you are not the last one's to find out on this whole dismal planet! Ron, look after her, and Hermione, well…look after that great freckled git who is undoubtedly leaning over your shoulder right now. I'll be back soon, so don't you dare come after me!
Love as always,
p.s.-thank your mum for me, Ron, for everything she's done, and try not to let her worry too much, though if I know your mum, she'll be going spare already.
He leaned back and re-read the letter several times, it seemed to say most of what he wanted it to, so he folded it up, scribbled on the outside To Weasley and Granger and placed it on Ron's pillow. He looked round the bright orange room one last time, and sighing, crept out the bedroom door and down the stairs, ruck sack slung over his shoulder. He could still hear loud music and cheering from the garden that told him the party would easily go on till early hours the next day, for which he was extremely grateful; the longer it went on, the longer he had to get away undetected. He let down the wards protecting the burrow, long enough to creep out the front door and into the silent night air (the wards prevented sound from leaving the property as well, so not a single note of the loud music could be heard from the back garden.) He turned round for a quick glance at the old house that was leaning slightly to one side, and felt a pang of sadness, he was not sure he'd ever see it again, or anyone inside it. He trudged over to the fence at the end of the garden, vaulted it with more energy than he thought he'd have in his present mood and paused. Gathering his wits and trying to remember everything that everyone had ever told him about apparition, he concentrated and spun on the spot, falling over in a tall field that was not the same as the one outside the Burrow.