post HBP, A/U
Drama, Violence, Romance
When Ginny momentarily rejects Harry at Bill's Wedding to show him how hurt she felt after he pushed her away at Dumbledore's funeral, Harry decides to keep everyone safe by leaving on his own. With the Wizarding World going to hell in a hand basket, can Ginny find Harry and convince him to return not only to the Wizarding World but to her too?
A/N: This is probably the least favorite of the stories I've written, but I wanted to archive it here for those who want to read it anyway. I'll try to have the whole story up by the end of Sep 2007.
Chapter 1 - The Unforgiven
Harry, Ron, and Hermione Apparated to the backyard of The Burrow. It was the same crazy yet homey looking place to him. He loved it in every way except one right now. There was a feisty petite redhead inside that he desperately wanted to hold but knew he shouldn't. He was not sure how she would react to him right now. She had not sat with them on the train ride back from school and had been quite cool to him on Platform 9 ¾ before he and his two long-time friends had left for his relatives' house. So it was with some fear and trepidation that he entered the Weasley household. Ron seemed to understand and stayed closer to Hermione than Harry in case lightning should strike, although Harry knew his friend had a secondary reason for that distance.
Over the month the trio had stayed at the Dursleys, his two best friends had come to a more cooperative understanding. That did not mean they had not bickered, Harry thought that would always be a constant in their relationship, but the level had been toned down, for which he was grateful.
They had left his relatives' house this morning, the morning of his seventeenth birthday. He never had to, and never planned to, return again. Out of some fragment of kindness, the origin of which was steeped in mystery as far as he was concerned, he had advised Aunt Petunia to move as soon as possible to avoid problems should someone come looking for him. Given her frosty expression, he assumed they would not take his advice and he had decided not to care one way or the other.
From his aunt's house, they had traveled to the Ministry of Magic via Knight Bus for Harry to take his Apparation test, and for Ron to retake it. Both boys had passed, so here he was at the Burrow. It was eight days before the wedding, which was the Saturday after next; in turn, that was three days before Ginny's birthday. He had surprised his friends by taking a few minutes to get a birthday present for Ginny while they were out. He figured it would be easier this way as he was not sure when he would be able to get away in the next week.
As they stepped into the house, they were greeted by the matriarch of the Weasleys. She greeted each with a "hello" and a hug. With Harry, she continued beyond that. "Harry, dear, are you hungry? Did those Muggles feed you enough?"
He did not get to answer though, as his friend beat him to it. "Thanks for asking, Mum," he said with some sarcasm. "We're starving. If it wasn't for Hermione being able to Apparate to the store for extra food, I think we would have starved to death."
His mother shot him a disapproving glance for interrupting, but she told them, "Follow me, I have lunch ready."
When they had sat down, Hermione turned to her hostess and asked the question that had been burning in her mind since they had arrived. "Where's Ginny?" She flicked a glance at Harry and saw him pay more attention to his food. Try as she might, she had gotten very little from her friend on the couple's breakup, other than Harry saying, "It's for the best." It was so like the boy to deny himself what he really needed for stupid and noble reasons.
"She's upstairs. She finished eating just before you got here," the mother answered.
They mostly ate in companionable silence. The various topics relating to their upcoming quest had been thoroughly discussed over the last month, at least based on what information Harry presently had from Dumbledore. It was also information that was to be shared only between the three of them.
When they took their plates to the sinks, Hermione asked, "Mrs. Weasley, is everything set for the wedding? Do you need any help?"
"No, Dear; it's all taken care of, or at least everything that can be done at this time. The flowers and food will be taken care of late next week, but other than that and setting up the chairs, it's all arranged. Why don't you three enjoy yourselves for the rest of the day. Perhaps do a little flying, I'm sure Ginny would enjoy doing that with you." Molly was concerned from what little she had heard from her daughter. Apparently, something had come between her daughter and Harry and she had no idea what. She hoped that if they spent some time together, the two could resolve their differences. Molly wanted Harry to be more a part of the family. He would be such a nice boy for her Ginny.
Surprisingly to the mother, Harry hung his head and silently left the kitchen heading to the back door by himself. She fixed her youngest boy with a stare. "What happened between them?" It was obvious he understood the question by the expression on his face. She could also see him thinking how to answer that. Hermione had a look of polite indifference.
"While I can guess, Mum, I think that is between them to work out."
Molly was surprised at the mature answer -- maybe he was starting to grow up. She nodded and turned to the dishes, leaving the two teens to their own devices.
Hermione and Ron went upstairs to drop their shrunken trunks off, as well as to pay someone a visit. They found Ginny in her room lying on her bed. She did not even look over at them when they opened the door, though her eyes were open.
"Hi Ginny," Hermione brightly said.
"Hello," Ginny absently replied.
"We're here. Harry's here too."
"That's nice," Ginny continued in the same dull, bored tone. She did not move a muscle, but Hermione noticed that the girl's wand was lying by her hand and not on the nightstand.
Hermione pulled her trunk out and set it by the twin bed she would be sleeping in before she enlarged it. "Harry's in the back garden and I think we'll go outside as well. If you want to talk to him alone or to all three of us, you're welcome to join us." Hermione gently pushed Ron out of the doorway and pulled the door to as they had found it.
After dropping off Ron's trunk, they went outside. They found a shade tree not too far from where Harry was. They could talk privately in a soft voice, yet they were close enough it would be easy to join him if necessary. The teens spent the entire afternoon that way, Harry in his thoughts on one side of the garden, Ron and Hermione in their thoughts on the other side of the garden, and Ginny up in her room.
As the sun got near the horizon, Molly Weasley called the trio in. Her husband had come home only a few minutes before. He was now aware of the situation and took it in his usual calm manner, privately agreeing with his son. He could not help noticing the chill in the air over dinner, especially from his daughter and Harry. Neither talked except when spoken to. He was not overly concerned though: as long as they both were in the same house, the Weasley curse would eventually exert itself and take care of the problem one way or another.
For as long as Arthur could remember, disagreements never lasted very long in the house. The Weasley temper just did not allow it. He figured Harry could probably hold out, but he knew his daughter would not be able to. Her red hair would assert itself and the problem would be worked out, for better or for worse. He sincerely hoped it was for the better, because he liked Harry -- he was a nice young man. In many ways, Arthur considered him their seventh son.
When dinner ended, Arthur heard his wife say, "Ginny? Would you please clean up this evening? I have something I need to do before bedtime."
"Yes, Mum," came the sullen answer.
"And Harry? Would you be a dear and help out so Ginny doesn't have to stay in there all evening?"
Arthur was not sure this meddling was the best way to solve the problem between the teens, but he supposed it would accelerate the outcome.
Unable to politely turn her down, Harry answered, "Ah, of course, Mrs. Weasley." He got up and grabbed some plates and followed Ginny into the kitchen.
Arthur looked at his wife and raised an eyebrow. He could tell she completely understood his implied question of, "Do you think that was wise?" She merely smiled back as she got up from the table. While he was not sure he agreed with her, he did not say anything and went into the living room after her. He really wanted to go out to the shed. He had found a Muggle screwdriver today that had little pieces that went into the end with different shapes on them. It also had grooves along a long shaft that seemed to force it to turn when pushed. It was most ingenious and he wanted to examine it in detail, but he thought it best to allow it to wait in case he was needed in here.
He had barely sat down when he clearly heard shouting coming through the open doorway of the dining room.
"I don't think 'Sorry' covers it, you git!" came Ginny's voice. "Do you know how much you hurt me?"
The reply could not be heard as Harry did not shout his answer.
"I don't care," Ginny shouted. "That's the stupidest thing I've ever heard. I can make up my own mind! What do you think I am, some little girl who can't take care of herself?"
Silence was the only answer Arthur got as Harry had yet to raise his voice.
"Then why the bloody hell don't you act like it. I can take care of myself as well as you can and you need me!"
"Aren't you listening?!" Harry's voice had finally become audible to those in the living room. "This isn't about what you can or can't do. This is about what could happen to you. I care for you and don't want anything to happen to you."
"Well, maybe I don't care for you anymore, because if you can hurt me once like this, who's to say you won't do it again. Maybe you're right and it's best that we're not together!" Feet went stomping off and up the stairs. A moment later, the back door was also slammed shut.
Arthur looked over at his wife. "I guess you get clean up duty after all."
Molly sighed. "That did not go quite the way I had expected, but maybe that will accelerate the healing process."
"I hope you're right," Arthur said as he got up to find his briefcase. It looked like he would get to spend some time in the shed after all. Maybe while he was puttering, he would think of some insight to share with Harry later.
With the situation and conversation still spinning in his head, Harry went back to the bench in the garden and sat. It was all so damn unfair to him, he thought. So much of it was centered around the prophecy. He pulled off his glasses and started rubbing his temples, myriads of thoughts continuing to race around in his head. It was like he was on a Muggle treadmill -- running as fast as he could but not really going anywhere.
What he really wanted was... And then it came to him. There was one solution that should make it all better for all of his friends. There were some short term disadvantages, but those should take care of themselves in time. The question was how to pull off this idea. Conversations from the last month of planning with Hermione came to him as he watched the stars come out. They really were beautiful, he noticed as he let his mind wander for a brief moment. He had liked Astronomy class, even though it had been quite useless for normal living. It was peaceful looking at the stars, the virtual star maps coming to mind.
Turning his thoughts to other maps in his mind, he rapidly came to a decision about how to proceed. The issue really came down to what time various shops in Diagon Alley opened so he could get the supplies that would be needed. Fortunately, he had been in Gringotts yesterday and had noted what time they opened, which was quite early. That worked well; he'd need to go there first anyway.
He stayed outside contemplating his plan and how it could turn out, the good and the bad. Overall, he liked it. Seeing lights go off downstairs as Mr. Weasley returned from his shed, Harry decided it was time to go in. He was somewhat amazed no one had come out to find him, especially Hermione. Whatever, or more likely whoever he thought with a grin, had stopped her, Harry was grateful. Feeling much better than he had when he had come out, he headed back inside, locking the outside door behind him. As quietly as he could, he climbed the stairs up to Ron's room. Ginny's door was closed, which he appreciated. Continuing on up the stairs, he found light coming out from under the door to Ron's room.
Just in case, he rattled the doorknob slightly before he slowly opened the door. Those precautions had been justified. Sitting on Ron's bed were his two best friends, and it looked like they had been doing more than just talking, based on their expressions. He smirked at them before he said, "Have you two finally worked things out?"
They both blushed. "We're trying to work it all out," Ron told him.
"It's really very easy," Harry told them. "Just grab each other's heads and snog for a bit. I think everything beyond that will work itself out." That caused them both to blush more. Harry opened up his small backpack and pulled out his shrunken trunk. Enlarging it, he opened it up and began rummaging around in it. Hermione took the hint.
"I'll see you later. 'Night Ron. 'Night Harry," the brunette said as she left the room.
Harry pulled off his clothes until he was down to a short-sleeved T-shirt and his boxers. Ron started doing the same. "You look like you're in a better mood now. Got things worked out?" the redhead inquired.
"Yeah, I think I have a plan in mind that should help everyone," Harry replied.
"Good, I hope things are better and there's less arguing tomorrow."
Harry thought that was ironic, considering how much his two best friends argued. It was all he could do not to laugh. As Ron turned out the light, Harry added, "I plan to apologize to Ginny, so I believe there will be a lot less arguing tomorrow."
"That's good to hear, mate. I felt sorry for you tonight."
"Thanks for being my friend."
"No problem, Harry."
Harry went over his new plan one more time. Yes, it should work out for the best for everyone as long as he got an early start. He did not think that would be a problem, he doubted he would sleep well tonight.