Disclaimer: (J.K. Rowling sits at her writing desk, surfing the Internet and reading FanFiction.)

Rowling: How dare these little twerps make a travesty of my beloved creation! They'll regret this! (Picks up phone and dials a number) Hello? Richards? Help me sue the pants of – and – (jabs finger at screen, reading off names).

Just in case you happen to be reading this, J.K., I would like my pants back (my bum is awfully cold without them and I'm attracting unwanted public attention). Oh, and yes, I do not own Harry Potter. J.K. does and that gave her the right to sue the pants off me.

Author's Note: This new fic is a departure from The Argument, which was a rather experimental one, being my first fic and all. I've always wanted to do an epic with adult themes, so…this is it. The first chapter is up for now, but rest assured, I won't take a few months to update it this time. (grins sheepishly)

Lightning flashed outside as the answering rumble of thunder rolled across the sky. Rivulets of rain ran down the window, unnoticed by the sleeping figure stretched on the bed. Harry Potter lay spread-eagled, dead to the thunderstorm outside in a Firewhisky-induced stupor. What faint light there was illuminated the copious amounts of empty Firewhisky bottles littered around him.

Out of the blue, someone pounded heavily on the front door of the little apartment.

'Harry! Are you in here? Open up!' yelled a voice.

'I think he's drunk again, Ron,' cut in a woman's voice. 'Alohomora!'

The door clicked open and two figures stepped in. Ron wasted no time, marching over to the bed and seizing Harry's arm.

'Wake up, Harry! Merlin! Look at you, you're a bloody mess!'

Harry's head lolled from side to side and he mumbled incoherently. Ron shook his head in disgust. 'Ginny, I'm going to get Harry cleaned up.'

She nodded and took out her wand to make a start on the alcohol-sodden flat which Harry was living in.

Ron eventually emerged from the bathroom hauling a freshly showered and shaved Harry with him, pushing Harry onto the bed.

'Harry, mate, it's been five years since Hermione vanished and you've been a wreck ever since,' said Ron quietly, shoving his hands into his pockets while Ginny looked on. 'You have to pull yourself together. Wasting your life like this, moping about the past isn't going to bring her back.'

Harry looked up at him with bloodshot eyes, an interesting feature when paired with his brilliant green eyes.

'I love her, Ron,' he croaked. 'I want to go back and undo what happened that night.'

'I know. The thing is, we – me, Ginny, the others – we think you should move on with your life –'

The next instant, Harry sprang to his feet in a fit of incandescent rage. 'Don't you talk about Hermione as though she's dead!' he roared as Ron and Ginny struggled to control him.

'I never said –' began Ron hotly.

'We care about Hermione as much as you do, Harry! She was – is – our friend too, only we don't drown our sorrows in drink as you do–'

As abruptly as it had started, Harry's rage died down and he sank back onto the bed, burying his face in his hands. 'You're right. I know - I'm sorry. It's just that…it was my fault she disappeared.' Ron placed a comforting hand on his shoulders; Ginny made as though she would too but withdrew her hand at the last minute.

'We understand how you feel, Harry. But as much as we care about Hermione, we care as much about you.' whispered Ginny.

'You need to get away from this place,' said Ron, getting to his feet and pacing about the tiny apartment. 'Not just this flat. London too. Get some fresh air.'

Harry glanced at him.

'Did you have something in mind?'

Ron and Ginny exchanged a grin, despite the sombre atmosphere. 'As a matter of fact…Dean's aunt owns a little bed and breakfast in North Scotland and we've booked you a room there.'

'What?!' gasped Harry.

Ginny took up the explanation, rather enjoying herself. 'She's a Muggle, so no magic allowed. The village is also a little Muggle hamlet, an out of the way kind of place.'

Harry's jaw hung open. 'You cannot be serious.'

'Oh, but we are.' Ron withdrew a sheaf of paper from his jacket pocket and thrust it into Harry's hands. 'Here are your reservations.'

'And your luggage.' A medium-sized suitcase hovered in the air in front of Harry before settling on the floor with a thump.

'But…but…you can't just push me off to some god-forsaken village in bloody Scotland!' protested Harry, throwing himself back onto the bed and snatching up a half-empty bottle of Firewhisky. 'I'm not going anywhere, so just leave me alone, OK?'

Ron had crossed the room in a few long strides and whisked the bottle out of Harry's hand. 'You'll be drinking no more of that,' he said firmly. 'Get a grip on yourself, mate!'

Harry stubbornly clung to his bedpost. 'I'm not going bloody anywhere. Can't you goddamn people just let me be?'

'We care about you too much to do that.' said Ginny very quietly.

Ron broke the tense silence by grabbing Harry's arm. 'You're going and that's final.'

There was a scuffle, and Harry snatched up his wand from the floor. It was a sobering indication of how much he'd let himself go to seed when his spell missed Ron by a mile. In a heartbeat, Harry was disarmed and he lay panting on the bed, exhausted by the effort of his struggle.

'Look at you. You're pathetic, Potter. What happened to the guy that blew Voldemort into a thousand pieces and finished off a horde of Death Eaters practically a minute after?'

Tears welled up in Harry's eyes and he squeezed them shut, causing them to run down his face.

'You're right. I am pathetic. I'm useless.'

There was a creak of bedsprings as Ginny sat down tentatively next to him. 'Self-pity isn't going to get you anywhere.'

A palpable silence settled over the three young people. At length, Ron came over to the bed.

'Harry, you are going whether you like it or not. I know that I'm going to sound like a crusty old Hogwarts professor but it's for your own good.'

Harry and Ginny smiled at that. 'Oh, alright then,' interjected Harry grumpily. 'I'll go, if it makes you guys happy.'

'We're confiscating all your Firewhisky, you know, and since it's a non-magical village, there's no place where you can get some more.' cut in Ginny.

Harry paled, opening his mouth to protest but thinking the better of it when he saw the look on Ron's face.

Author's Note: I hope you liked that. The next chapter will be coming up very soon, within a week at the maximum.