"Harry!" A woman's voice screamed, echoing through the hallways and rooms of the Burrow. "Please… wait up."
A definitely male voice, strained, followed. "Mate… It's not…"
There was the harsh slamming of a door… like a gunshot into the sudden silence that filled the house… and anyone that might have been talking was no longer daring to breathe a word, to possibly draw notice that they were partly witness to what was about to occur. The door was followed by footsteps that fell like the slamming of Hogwarts: A History onto a table as the whole house seemed to shake. There was no longer a way to pretend to be ignorant of what was happening, pictures falling from the walls and plaster dropping from the ceiling.
At the top of the stairs, a raven-haired young man stood, his eyes blazing with an anger that literally seemed to dance as emerald flames. At any other time, he would appear as any other sixteen, almost seventeen, year old boy. He was dressed in black jeans and a crimson jumper which might not have been even noted, but that they looked to have been purchased new for him rather than as a hand-me-down from his gargantuan cousin, Dudley.
But how well Harry Potter was dressed was practically ignored, all for the fact that tears fell freely down his face.
He took the stairs hard, his dragon-hide boots dropping quick and methodically upon each wooden step… the shadows seeming to retreat from his form. He was halfway down the staircase when another young man seemed to reach the edge of the second floor, the intent of catching Harry evident in his demeanor.
The second man looked horrible. His clothes were mismatched, haphazardly thrown together… much like they had been pulled on while in a hurry. Pajama pants, pink in colour along with purple hearts, along with a white tee shirt (in honesty looking to be worn backwards at the moment). Red hair that matched in shade with many of the spectators on the first floor.
Ronald Weasley, the best and earliest friend that Harry had ever had, seemed almost to magically fly down the stairs, his bare feet making barely a sound, especially in comparison to the heavy pounding of his best friend in front of him.
"Harry…" Ron cried as his arm reached out to grab Harry's shoulder. "Hold on a min…"
In less time than it might take to explain, the dark haired teenager's foot landed on the ground floor. As the person following him reached out, Harry pivoted and grabbed Ron's wrist before it had a chance to land. There was a quiet moment where the red-head's eyes opened wide, the danger of his situation suddenly apparent, as Harry Potter twisted and flipped Ron over his shoulder sending him crashing to the floor several feet from the edge of the staircase, several knickknacks and other memorabilia falling from the shelves, crashing into nothing but broken memories.
"Ooof!" Ron landed hard, all breath stolen from him in that moment as Harry strode closer.
The insanity of the moment caught everyone off guard before the gathered members of the Order of the Phoenix sprung into action. Professor McGonagall, the newly designated replacement for Albus Dumbledore, thinned her lips as she snapped her eyes over towards Harry.
Kingsley Shacklebolt and Mad-Eye Moody were suddenly in-between the two friends, the hands and wands raised in case Harry decided to attempt to pass them in his quiet stalking of the youngest Weasley male.
"Hold on, Harry." Mad-Eye's gruff voice filled the room, drowning out all of the surprised exclamations that filled the room from the witches and wizards squeezed into the Weasley home.
Behind the former Auror, several of Ron's family who were in attendance for the impromptu meeting rushed to his aid. Arthur and Molly Weasley were the first to their son's side, Mrs. Weasley's cry of anguish at her son being thrown across the room filling the still air, while Charlie and Bill Weasley, the eldest of the red-headed children, interposed themselves as backup for Kingsley and Mad-Eye.
"What's all this now, Mr. Potter?" Minerva's voice called, her tone leaving no room for doubt that she intended an immediate answer. "I only asked you to go up and bring Mr. Weasley and Miss Granger to the meeting…"
The room seemed to take a collected breath as Harry's tearstained face turned to look at his Transfiguration Professor, a hash look of pain crossing his face. "Just leaving."
"What?" Fleur DeLacour, soon-to-be Weasley, called from somewhere in the back behind many of the other Order members that were all suddenly gripping wands. "Jus' leev'eng? You just got 'ere. We steel 'ave a wedding that you are to attend aft'air dis meet'eng."
Harry stared hard at the growing number of people trying to block his path to where Ron was laying. He shook his head as he brushed past several people, not the least of which were Luna Lovegood and Neville Longbotton, two of the newer inductees into the Order, with an expression that caused all that he drew near to take a step back.
Ginny, the youngest of the Weasley family, moved to try and reach Harry, to possibly block him from his path towards the front door, but her brothers Fred and George carefully held her back. "Wait… Harry! What's going on?" She cried, but received no response.
"Now, listen here young man." Arthur Weasley suddenly spoke, his voice hard. "I don't know what's going on here, but you need to explain yourself. Molly and I have…"
"Ask Hermione." Harry's voice interrupted coldly. He was at the doorway, the door open and his back turned to the room. "Ask my… girlfriend. Ask Hermione why I'm leaving."
"No…" Ron called weakly from the floor. "Harry… listen… it's not…"
Harry turned, the fire in his gaze suddenly brighter than what anyone could ever remember seeing before. "Not what, Ron? Not what it looked like?" His words snapped out like a whip. "What exactly was it that I saw, Ron? Can you explain why you and my girlfriend were in bed together without any clothes on?"
"What!" Molly's voice gasped, her eyes wider than saucers.
"Ronald?" Luna's soft voice seemed to whisper in inquiry across the room. He winced at hearing his own girlfriend's voice asking him if his best mate's accusation was true or not, but he couldn't spare the moment away from Harry… not yet.
At the pronouncement, the room seemed to all take a breath in at once while the young man facing Harry had gone completely pale. To the side, Arthur quickly pulled his wife away and the room seemed to realize that there was no way to escape witnessing the coming confrontation, Ginny's arms around Luna in obvious support and comfort.
"Mate?" Harry laughed, though there was no warmth in it at all. "You go and shag my girlfriend while I'm away and you want to call me mate?"
Harry shook his head. "If it wasn't that you were once a brother to me, I'd kill you, Ron." At his words, Molly suddenly burst into tears. "As it is, after I walk out the door, I never want to see you again."
"Listen, Harry…" Harry glanced over at Kingsley. At the look, the dark skinned man tightened his grip on his wand.
Ron shuffled his feet, his eyes refusing to hold Harry's gaze for long. "Look… it just sorta…"
"If you say it just happened, no force this side of Dumbledore returning from the grave will prevent me from shutting you up for good."
The whole room started to shake again, the twenty or so people in the Weasley's home looking around in obvious fear at the amount of power that seemed to be filling the room.
The magic immediately dropped away as Hermione Granger walked down the stairs. She had definitely looked better. She wore a pair of sweatpants, the draw strong loose, as well as an old quidditch jersey that had belonged to Harry… one of the first things she had stolen from him after they had started dating at the end of their fifth year at Hogwarts. Looking around, Hermione's cheeks went red as she realized that everyone that meant anything to her in the wizarding world was in that room, watching the train wreck that had become of her life… and that of her two best friends. She sighed as she realized that no one was going to give them any privacy, though it was really too late for that as it was. Hesitantly, she reached out a hand to touch Harry's back that was still turned away from her.
Just as her hand neared, Harry's voice spoke. "Don't touch me."
Tears immediately filled her eyes. "Harry… I'm…"
"Shut up." She flinched as if he'd struck her. "I'm leaving."
"I said shut up!" His voice was louder, making several people jump. Refusing to turn and look at her, his eyes regarded Ron as he continued to speak to Hermione. "It's over. You. Me. Ron. Over. I'll do the rest on my own."
The enormity of what he was saying seemed to hit the both of them at the same time. "Harry…" and "You can't…"
"I CAN!" Harry bellowed as he finally turned his back on Ron and looked at Hermione. "This is my destiny. My burden. And I can't do it with you. Not any longer. Not after having you betray me… to lie to me."
Hermione's head was shaking violently. "No… I have to help… you can't do it alone…"
"And you expect me to do it with you?" He alternated his gaze between the two people that had meant the most to him. "I'm now supposed to trust the two of you with my life? To watch my back? I couldn't even trust the woman I love and my best friend to be alone together." He laughed, though to most it seemed more like a cry. "Trust? Not from either of you. Never again."
"I won't let you go alone." Ron's voice was thick. "I'll…" Harry turned and glared, the words dying.
Hermione's voice was full of tears and pain. "Please… I wish I could explain… nothing makes sense…"
"You're right at that." Harry's voice was barely audible. "Nothing makes sense to me anymore, either. Everything that I had to lean on… to trust to keep me sane and safe… it's all gone now."
"Harry…" McGonagall's voice interrupted from where she stood, but Harry was already shaking his head.
Harry reached into his pocket and pulled out a small bag. The room watched as he muttered under his breath and the package suddenly enlarged… no sign of his wand was ever seen. Tears filled his vision as he unfurled the bag and reached into it.
"I had these made…" He sighed. "A waste of money now." Pulling out a box, Harry opened to reveal three necklaces. Throwing one to Hermione and then another to Ron, he dropped his to the ground. "There are three charms on each one… I had them made. One for each of us."
Hermione's eyes filled with tears as she looked down to see a broomstick, a chess piece and a book all attached to the necklace. "Harry…"
"You know what hurts the worst?" He didn't pause for an answer. His eyes moved up to Hermione's as he upended the sack and let another box fall out and into his hand. "I wasn't a day late coming here without a great reason… besides the necklaces…"
Hermione's eyes widened at the small box in Harry's hand. "Your parents say hello, by the way, and to call them as soon as you get a moment."
"M-my… my parents?"
Harry nodded as he tossed the box to her, the fire having completely left his eyes. He looked defeated. Broken. "I agreed that we were too young for being engaged…" His voice filled Hermione's ears as she opened the box to find a small ring inside, three green stones set inside the gold. "A promise. That's what I wanted to offer you. Your mother cried and your father shook my hand."
Hermione's whole existence felt over as she looked up at the man she loved, not understanding why things had spiraled out of control as they had. Everyone else in the room vanishing from her thoughts in that moment as she felt the enormity of what she'd done press against her chest. "I…"
Harry pointed, his voice not loud or cruel. Just tired. "There's an inscription on the inside. Its says My Promise to You. Forever" Hermione felt the bubble of nausea fill her throat as she tried to suck in enough oxygen not to faint.
"We promised each other to wait before becoming intimate, not wanting to ruin it by going too fast... the war with Voldemort looming over us." Harry's voice broke slightly and Hermione wanted to go to him. "To always be honest with each other, to care for one another… That you gave your first time to… someone else…" He let the words fall away as fresh tears rolled down his cheeks.
Harry sighed. "I have just one promise left for you, Hermione. It was supposed to be something different, but I guess the ring can signify a different promise than what it was originally intended for."
"Please…" She knew what was coming.
Harry watched her as she knelt on the floor, her legs refusing to hold her up anymore as the tears fell and she cried aloud. "I promise that I will never give you a chance to hurt me again."
Ron moved to go to Hermione, but at Harry's look, he dropped his hands and stood silently. As Harry turned, he watched as several of the women members of the Order… all but Ginny and Luna… moved quickly over to check on the bushy haired brunette. Harry intentionally pressed his boots down on the third necklace that he'd dropped, the loud cracking of the charms signifying everything that he'd said.
Without another word, Harry left the house. Through the doorway, they watched as the young man that had been deemed "the Chosen One" and "The-Boy-Who-Lived" stepped off the front porch of the only place he had ever called home and apparated away without a sound.
O X O X O X O X O X O
A/N: So? I can keep going with this if people think it's worth more chapters. I actually have about ten or so chapters written in my head on where I think this might go.
Let me know.
Oh. And don't worry. I'm still working on "The-Boy-Who-Vanished." Just needed to try something different.