I don't remember a lot of what happened those next few weeks. I vaguely remember a service on the grounds for those that we lost in battle, Hermione trying to get up and say a few words before she erupted into tears and was led off the stage by Ron, and my own tears. Godric, they wouldn't stop falling. It seemed I couldn't look at anything without being reminded of those we lost.
Of course, it could have been worse. No matter how horrible something is, there's always the potential that it could have been worse. At least I still had my sister, my best friends, the Order. But I didn't have my parents, and that was heartbreaking. But at least I wasn't alone in the world.
The worst part was going back to the house.
We went with a small escort from the Order, just Hermione and me, Ron, Harry and Tonks. A few spells would have easily packed up everything, but we spent some extra time gathering those things we couldn't just leave in boxes. Our mother's handwritten poetry book, Papa's So, Your Child is a Wizard manual with notes in the margins, a batch of frozen cookies Mum had made for our next break…stuff that didn't seem like much, but was everything to us.
Our room was just as we'd left it at the end of summer. Beds both made - something that never happened when we actually used them - desks strewn with quills and ink splotches, things lying on the floor of our closets. Without a word, we each took an extra trunk out of the closet and started packing. Matching plaid comforters, book sets, clothes…tiny parts of our lives shoved in haphazardly.
"You two're almost done, yeah?" Tonks asked from the doorway. "The realtor lady s'posed to come 'round four, and it'd be best if we were gone before then."
"Yeah, I s'pose," I mumbled, glancing around our room once more. "What about you, Hermione?"
She nodded, a sad smile on her face. "I guess. Hard to think we'll never come back here again, isn't it?"
Ron came up behind us, slinging a comforting arm around both our shoulders. Vaguely I noticed how he pulled Hermione closer to him."You have us, right Harry?" He nodded. "And Mum said you could stay with us. There's more room since its Headquarters now and everything, and the remodel because of the attack..."
Hermione kissed his cheek, causing him to turn bright red. "Thank you so much, Ron. I don't know what we'd do without you."
Tonks cleared her throat. "Let's go, yeah? Everyone ready?"
Ron removed his arm, slipping Hermione's hand inside his own. "I suppose," I murmured, looking around the room one last time. "Now or never, right?"
The days at the Burrow were hectic. It seemed like one day we'd all just sit around, maybe play a pick-up game of Quidditch or something, and the next we'd be casting spells around the house to help protect it, acting as part of the Order even though Molly refused to acknowledge it, and generally just run around ragged.
The house was full, too. Every room was stuffed to the max; some little cottages were being built in a semi-circle around the house to hold visiting members of the Order and the people who were planning on living there. Besides Hermione and me, Molly had offered to take in Harry, Tonksand Draco; plus she anticipated extra room for when the grown-and-gone Weasleys dropped in for a visit.
As it was, Hermione and I were packed inside Ginny's tiny little room, all three of us competing for space that just wasn't there. We tried every charm we could think of to stretch space, but even with that we were just too crowded. I woke up in the mornings with elbows in my face, feet scrunched against my back, my arm flung over someone else's face.
One morning, about three weeks into our twelve week vacation before our last year at Hogwarts, sitting at our table as if it was perfectly normal occurrence was Professor McGonagall. "Hello, girls," she smiled from behind a mug filled with coffee. "How are things going here?"
We both smiled at the sight of our favorite teacher and House Head. "We're as good as we can be, given the circumstances," I said. "It's a bit cramped here, but it'll be fine in a month or so, once the repairs are finished."
She searched my face, looking for the lie she knew was hidden there. We weren't alright; in fact we were miserable at best and just wanted to crawl into our parents laps and cry. "I see," she murmured, more to herself than to us as she took in our disheveled appearances and shadows under our eyes. "Molly was right…"
"About what?" Hermione piped up, curiosity in her voice for the first time in a while.
"About the fact that the Order is running you around, having you do jobs they normally would only let initiated members do, and not saying you're a part of it. You both need a break."
I looked at Hermione, who nodded quickly. "Yes, Professor, but we really don't mind. Any little bit we can do to help is worth it. People around here deserved to be able to sit and rest awhile. Just because Voldemort's gone doesn't mean we aren't still needed – especially since the collapse of the Ministry."
It was true. Just in the past weeks since the Battle of Hogwarts, it was found out that Voldemort had hidden spies within the highest ranks of the Ministry, including the Minister himself. With everything going crazy, it was the Order's job to step in and help. For the moment, until an election could be held, Kingsley Shacklebolt was stepping in as Minister. He had other members helping him—his second in command was none other than Tonks.
Needless to say, the Wizarding World was experiencing some major difficulties. People didn't know who they could trust, particularly since it became obvious that not every Death Eater had died that night. A few days ago, there was a story in the Prophet about someone casting the Dark Mark above a field. No one was injured, but it shook everyone, especially those who had cowered during the past months of war.
Hermione and I talked with Professor McGonagall a while more, sitting down and drinking a quick cup of tea with her before she left.
A while later, all of us convened in the boys' room for our weekly "quiet time" with everyone. It seemed like the only time Molly wasn't rushing us from chore to chore and we could all just sit and talk. Sometimes it was the only thing keeping my sanity in check, knowing I'd have that time to just relax.
It had been decided that Hermione, Ginny and I could stay in separate guest cottages until the repairs to the Burrow were finished and everyone would be a bit more comfortable. Hopefully it would only take a month, but with the way it had been raining lately, none of us were sure.
"It'll be fine, you guys!" I pointed out, trying to cheer up the boys. They had spent the better half of the day de-gnoming the garden. "We'll still be right here, at Headquarters – just a little ways away to protect our minds."
"But you won't be here for a month," Ron deadpanned.
"Yes, Ronald!" I rolled my eyes, looking exhaustedly at Hermione who sat there and wouldn't say anything.
"So…you're going to leave us here with Draco, alone, and trust us not to hurt him?" There again was the undercurrent mischievous tone that Ron always seemed to have.
Here Draco looked scared. "You're not going to let them hurt me, are you, Holly?" he asked, eyes darting from each of the boys, then back to me.
I rolled my eyes again. "Ron, Harry, listen to me for once: don't hurt Draco, or feel the wrath of the scarier Granger twin."
"It's not like anyone here likes him but you, Hols," Harry quietly spoke up for the first time. "No one cares about him but you."
"That's not true! Even Ron will admit that Draco's a nice person when he's not being a jerk, and he hasn't been a jerk to any of us in nearly four months!"
He snorted softly. "Which is a polite way for you to tell me off, isn't it?"
"Maybe it is, but you've no right, Harry James Potter, to act all high and mighty," I spat, anger and pent-up frustration exploding. Months with the silent treatment, and this is the first thing said directly to me? I don't think so. "Yes, you got rid of Voldemort, good show. But it wasn't alone. Everyone in this room was willing to give everything in order for you to do so. Look at Neville – he gave everything, and for what? For you to sit there and be a jerk to the people who care about you; who were willing to lay down their lives to save yours? I don't think so!"
Ginny laid a hand on my arm, silently pleading with me to just drop it. I sank back down onto the rug, massaging my temples as I did so. "It's just...after how you've been treating me lately, Harry, you're really the last person whose opinion I'm seeking right now."
"Really, now?" he questioned, sarcasm dripping from each word, eyebrow quirked.
"Sod off, mate," Ron intoned as he wrapped a protective arm around my shoulders. "Holly's had a hard time of it lately, and you've been a prat to her. Even before the Battle. When she needed you most, afterwards when everything hit the fan, you were gone. Let her yell at you and take it like a man."
Harry threw a glare at everyone else. "Do you all think that, too?"
No one wanted to be the first to say anything, so we all just muttered a, "Yes," under our breath and glanced around the room awkwardly.
"Holly," Hermione whispered as she stole a quick glance at Ron, "maybe we should go and finish getting all our stuff together.
"We'll be fine. Male bonding, you know," Ron attempted to be cheerful, for our sake, as he slung an arm around both Harry and Draco. Draco looked scared at the sudden contact, not knowing it was only to please me, while Harry looked murderous.
"Maybe for you," he said shortly, getting up and leaving.
"Don't worry, he'll come around," Ginny sighed. "I'll find a way." She went after him as Draco and Ron got up as well.
"Don't really feel like being around that," Ron explained, jerking a thumb towards the door. "He's being a right wanker."
AN: Since this is a HP fanfic, I never really thought about how people would perceive Holly and everyone. Eep.
Well, I don't really play by the movie. The characters don't look like Emma Watson and Tom Felton and everyone else (except Daniel Radcliff, when they left his hair long. He's the only one that fit my image, so I'll just find you all a lovely picture of him!)
So. I'm going through and using my handy dandy Photoshop skills and making people look like the people in my head. I will put them on my flickr. ( www . flickr . com / photos / background _ music ). I'll even make a special folder or group or whatever they're called just for characters.
Hope it helps you visualized the Running world!