Chapter One: Intervention by EROD37
"I never really gave up on you...Maybe that's why I like you so much"
The sound of her voice echoed in his mind as Harry woke up in a cold sweat. The feeling had become increasingly familiar to him. The irony was that even though he was pulled from his slumber after hearing her speak those words each night, it was not a nightmare he was experiencing. It was merely his mind replaying the last conversation with the one person in his life who he was happiest with. The memory of his short time with her passed briefly through his mind. But it did not fill him with even the smallest amount of happiness.
During his first eleven years Harry thought he had experienced true loneliness. Having grown up an orphan. Raised by relatives who abused him mentally, physically and emotionally. No birthday parties, no presents on special occasions, no possessions to honestly call his own. No friends. No love. But he was learning the hard way that he was wrong. You didn't experience true loneliness until you experience things that made your heart swell with happiness, and then you either lose it or cut yourself off from it. You never really miss something until it is gone.
Had it only been two weeks since everything in his life had come apart? Two weeks since Dumbledore's funeral? Two weeks since he made the decision to not return to Hogwart's for his senior year? Two weeks since he had decided that vengeance would become his life? Two weeks since he broke up with...?
"NO!" He yelled at himself in his mind. He had made those decisions for the betterment of the wizarding world and he would not regret making them. He knew that in making those decisions he would have to cut himself off emotionally from any and all outside distractions. Cut himself off from anything that would deter him from his goal of ridding the world of Voldemort. Once and for all. "To defeat your enemy, you must become your enemy."
The main distraction in his life had been her. Each day Harry found himself staring at a blank piece of parchment. Searching for the right words to say to her. Each day the parchment remained blank. It was never the fear of writing her that stopped him. It was the fear of what she might write back, if she wrote back at all. He had to keep reminding himself to cut himself off and remain true to his decisions, his goal.
Harry reached up to turn on the light and shattered the light bulb with his open hand. He could tell instantly that he cut himself. But he didn't so much as make a sound. It served him right. Harry always woke up disorientated after his reoccurring dream and he never took an adequate amount of time to get his bearings. He decided he would have to change that about himself if he was to achieve his goal. "To defeat your enemy you must become your enemy."
Anyway, it wasn't like he didn't know where he was. It was just that it had been a while since he spent his nights here and he had grown quite a bit since then.
It had taken quite a bit of explaining (as well as exaggerating) to convince Uncle Vernon and Aunt Petunia to allow both Ron and Hermione to stay with him at Privet Drive. But after telling them that his parent's murderer was very much alive and at large, the prospect of having three wizards at their home for protection caused the Dursleys to reluctantly agree. The only stipulation being was that Hermione was to have her own room. Aunt Petunia was adamant about that, so Harry agreed.
So while Hermione slept in Harry's room, Ron slept on the living room sofa. Harry could still remember Ron and Hermione's objections when he began setting himself up in his old cupboard under the stairs. Their comments fell on deaf ears. Harry still never felt completely comfortable with having his two best friends along on something he felt he should be taking care of alone. But they had insisted, that didn't mean he had to allow his feelings for them to distract him. So he had begun distancing himself from his best friends as well. So he lied to them, explaining that he would be fine and that he felt it would be comfortable for him. Ron gave an understanding nod. But Hermione shot Harry a stare that made him uneasy. Over the last few weeks he had seen those eyes and that stare quite a few times.
Harry shook himself from his thoughts and quietly open the door to the cupboard. He began making his way to the kitchen. He could see Ron sleeping comfortably on the living room sofa. Ron had grown up in meager surroundings with eight other family members. So it would not have surprised Harry if Ron could sleep comfortably on a busy highway during a traffic jam.
Harry made his way to the kitchen sink. He ran cold water over his injured hand. It wasn't a large cut. But it bled quite a bit. He cleaned and performed a healing charm on it. He had grown accustomed to pain. The battle at Hogwart's had helped with that. Pain was just a reminder you were still alive. Alive and capable to complete your goal. Voldemort would never whimper over something as simple as a cut hand. "To defeat your enemy, you must become your enemy"
He knew he wouldn't be able to fall back to sleep anytime soon. Not with her voice still fresh in his mind. So Harry made his way outside to the back yard. The night was clear and beautiful. But Harry did not care one bit. He didn't have time for these trivial things. Harry sat down in the grass and tried to clear his mind. A memory sudden hit him as he realized that he was sitting in almost the exact spot where Uncle Vernon tried in vain to keep his sister from floating away after Harry had inadvertently hexed her into a human hot air balloon.
"Served the bloody fat cow right" Harry thought to himself. He had been able to ignore all of her insults regarding him that night, but he couldn't ignore the insults she had made about his mother.
Harry just sat there quietly. Ignoring the fading pain from his now healed cut. Ignoring the cool night breeze that raised goose bumps on his skin. Ignoring the sounds from crickets and nocturnal creatures. In the two weeks since he had returned Harry had almost perfected cutting himself off from everything and everyone around him. Both Inside and out. This was how things had to be. "To defeat your enemy, you must become your enemy"
10 minutes earlier...
Hermione awoke with a small start. The sound wasn't a very loud one. But she was never a very sound sleeper, and given the task that she and her best friends were soon undertaking, it only made sense to become even more alert to all manner of noise. She was sure the sound she heard was that of glass breaking. She reached for her wand and found it exactly where she had left it.
She quietly made her way down the stairs to find the door to Harry's cupboard open. She performed a lumos charm and noticed the broken bulb as well as a small amount of blood on the bed sheets. Normally this might have scared her, but Harry had already broken the bulb one other time since he started sleeping in that dreadful place. She couldn't figure out why Harry would want to sleep in such cramp quarters. Didn't he have enough of that in his first eleven years of life? She thought it best to find Harry and see if he needed any help.
She laughed to herself. The way Harry was behaving he would just tell her he was fine and walk away. Since they returned from Hogwart's both she and Ron had noticed how Harry had begun to withdraw. It was if Harry had become a shell of a person. This last year had been hell. Harry never had much of a childhood, but any remains of Harry's childhood were gone the night he witnessed Dumbledore's murder. Hermione's thoughts began to replay in her mind. Replaying events from two weeks prior, the day of Dumbledore's funeral...
The train ride home after the funeral was the longest she had experienced in her six years at Hogwart's. She, Ron and Harry had a compartment all to themselves. Ginny had floo'd back to the burrow with Mr. and Mrs. Weasley. Hermione had overheard the conversation between Harry and Ginny. Hermione didn't think Ginny could have handled being around Harry after he sacrificed their relationship to try and keep her safe.
She and Ron used the trip to discuss their plans. The wedding, staying at the Dursleys, visiting Godric's Hollow, telling their parents about not returning to Hogwart's for senior year. But throughout the conversation Hermione couldn't help but notice how Harry was in the compartment but not in the conversation. On several occasions she noticed how Harry kept avoiding her questioning eyes.
Outside of King's Cross station she noticed how Harry kept to himself as she and Ron were warmly welcomed home by their parents. Normally Harry would have been more than happy to receive a warm hug from Mrs. Weasley. But when she made a move to go towards him, he avoided hugging her by pretending to make a fuss about looking through his trunk. Hermione could see the hurt in Mrs. Weasley's eyes. Mr. Weasley held his wife back with a gentle hand and a knowing glance. But the hurt in Mrs. Weasley's eyes was nothing compared to the hurt in Ginny's eyes. Ginny was sitting, watching Harry quietly from the window of the car that her father had driven to the station.
Hermione watched as Ginny and Harry's eyes met. For the briefest of moments it looked as if Harry wanted to drop everything and run to her and beg her forgiveness. Then Harry looked away as if he didn't even know her name. The color in Ginny's face drained as she buried her face in her hands. Hermione was furious with Harry. But she knew that there would be a time and a place to talk about what she had just witnessed but now just wasn't the time.
Ron's parents had some bad news as they explained that the wedding was to be postponed. Bill was still not fully recuperated from his injuries and the Weasleys wanted to make security at the Burrow as tight as possible. All that meant was that they would be going to the Dursleys and visiting Godric's Hollow sooner. Hermione and Ron explained their plans to their parents and the three of them were off to Privet Drive.
A few days later, when the three of them visited Godric's Hollow and the Potter's graves, Hermione knew that something was wrong. Harry didn't so much as bat an eyelash as he laid a dozen roses on his mother's grave.
"What is going on inside of him?" Hermione thought to herself.
Their time at Privet Drive saw Harry keeping to himself as often as possible. Most of the time it was as if Harry wasn't in the same room with her. He continued to avoid Hermione's eyes, and whenever someone spoke to him directly he would give very short answers. Hermione had tried on several occasions to ask him if something was wrong, but he always gave her answers that she would want to hear.
But what finally convinced Hermione that he had closed himself off was that in the two weeks since returning from Hogwart's, she noticed that Harry had avoided all physical contact.
He didn't shake hands with any of his classmates when they left school or with Mr. Weasley at the station. He didn't want to be embraced by Mrs. Weasley, who Harry considered a surrogate mother. He had even gone as far to avoid Ron when he tried to slap his shoulder in the brotherly sort of way they had always done with one another since they first met.
A dark realization settled upon Hermione. She knew Harry was in need of help. Whether he wanted it or not. She finally figured out what Harry was attempting to do, and she knew that in the long run that it was not beneficial to Harry's mental health. As she shut down her lumos charm, Hermione knew there was one thing she could do and she would have to be strong in her resolve.
As she bypassed the living room, she noticed Ron snoring away. She was tempted to wake him up and relay her discovery and what she had planned to do. But she knew nothing short of a spider landing on his face would wake him up instantly and she didn't want to waste time or energy shaking Ron awake. Hermione would need all of her physical and emotional strength for what she had planned.
Hermione noticed the door to the back yard had been opened and walked outside. She found Harry quietly sitting on the grass. His hair was a mess and he wasn't wearing his glasses. He had his wand pointed directly at her.
"I heard the sound of glass breaking" Hermione said.
"I broke the bulb again. Cut my hand" Harry replied rather blankly as he lowered his wand.
"Are you alright? Want me to look at it?" Hermione asked. Even though she knew what Harry's answer would be.
"I've already used a healing charm on it. So you don't have to go through the trouble" Harry answered with the typical defensive tone in his voice that Hermione had gotten used to over the last two weeks.
"Oh don't be silly Harry, it's no trouble at all" Hermione insisted as she knelt down behind Harry. "You never know if you might have left a piece of glass in your hand as you healed it"
Hermione knew it was now or never as she felt Harry starting to stand up. She quickly moved her arms around Harry. Her left arm over his left shoulder, her right arm under his right arm. Both of her hands clasping at the front of his chest.
Harry tried to stand as he asked, "Hermione what are you doing?"
But she said nothing as she hugged him.
He tried to pry her hands apart as he said, "Hermione, I'm fine, let me go"
Hermione merely increased her gentle pressure, her hands were locked and she wouldn't let go.
"Hermione this isn't funny. Just let me go now" Harry was trying his best to wiggle free as he said this. But Hermione held him tightly.
"Granger, will you get off of me" Harry's voice was starting to sound angry.
Harry could feel Hermione's cheek against his now. He struggled to break free of this girl who he swore had gone mental on him. The softness of her skin against his triggered a memory in the back of his mind. He struggled with his body as well as his mind as he tried to fight down this memory.
"Her...my...oh...nee, let me go already!" She heard him say as he continued to struggle against her embrace. She felt her cheek against his and figured the extra contact was having the effect on him she wanted. She decided to push her luck a little further.
"Please Hermione...let go...just let me go" Harry was beginning to plead with her. She was stronger than he thought. No matter what he tried she held him tight. It was almost as if each time he spoke she drew him closer.
Harry could feel her heart beating against his back. Not only was he feeling their cheeks rubbing together, but now she was nuzzling her nose and cheek against his face as well. Memories were attempting to flood his mind. He fought with everything he had to keep them down. He needed to get away; to cut himself off...cut himself off."To defeat your enemy, you have to become your enemy"
"STOP...PLEASE...DON'T!" Harry's voice was the sound of sheer panic. He fought with everything he had. But Hermione continued to hold him gently but firmly. Maintaining the contact between them.
Harry struggled in vain. His heart was pounding in his chest. His breaths were coming in short quick gasps. He felt her skin against his. The softness making him weaker by the second. He could now feel her hair, and smell her scent. It was becoming all too familiar to him. The closeness, the tenderness. He tried one last time to fight down the flooding memories which threatened to overwhelm him. "To..defeat...your...enemy...you...must. ..
Hermione chose that exact moment to softly whisper in his ear the words she heard Ginny say to Harry a fortnight ago:
"I never really gave up on you...Maybe that's why I like you so much"
Finally, the monster inside him roared back to life. It had been dormant for far too long and would no longer be silenced or contained.
"LET ME GO GINNY, PLEASE LET ME GO!" Harry screamed at the top of his lungs.
All of Harry's struggles stopped. He inhaled all of the air he could back into his lungs. His thoughts were suddenly clear. It was the first time he had said or thought Ginny's name since he broke up with her, and it managed to shatter the walls Harry had built up around his heart.
All of Harry's emotions came crashing down upon him. The grief for his parents, Cedric, Sirius, Dumbledore. The helplessness for not being able to save any of them. The guilt of not being strong enough to stop Snape from escaping. The weight of the future responsibility of having to become a murderer. But most of all, the remorse for having shut his heart to the one person who knew him better than he knew himself. The one person who he had discovered to be his soul-mate. The one person who he shared a life-debt with. The one person he could one day see as Mrs. Harry Potter. The one person who he loved more than life itself.
Hermione was still holding him close as Harry laid his head back against her chest and began weeping uncontrollably.
"G-G-Ginny, oh Ginny! Ginny I'm so...so..sorry! I only did what I thought was right! I didn't mean to break your heart! I didn't mean it...I didn't mean it! I didn't want to push you away. But...but I was only trying ...trying to protect you! I don't ever want to lose you...lose you like I lost...like I lost..."
But Harry never finished as he buried his face into his hands and began to wail. His body shook with his sobs. Hermione bared Harry's weight against her. She didn't let go before and she wouldn't now.
Hermione looked up and found Ron standing before her. Ron was speechless. She didn't know how much Ron had seen or heard. All she knew was that all he could see was Harry crying hysterically and Hermione holding him. Ron saw there were tears running down Hermione's face as well. She silently mouthed the words, "Wait...please" It was all she had to say.
Ron simply knelt next to Harry and wrapped his arms around both Harry and Hermione.
No one said a word. None of them knew exactly how long they stayed that way. It was quite a while later when Harry stopped crying and they finally broke the embrace.
When he was finally able to compose himself all he could do was apologize to his best friends for treating them as badly as he did.
Hermione spoke up first. "We understand and forgive you. Both of us saw what was going on with you. We were just unaware about how bad things had gotten inside you"
"You were cutting yourself off from everything. Even those of us that care about you, mate" Ron suddenly spoke up.
"I figured that to fight Voldemort I had to become like him. To become cold hearted" Harry said as he wiped the tears from his face
"Harry! You forgot the one thing that will always separate you from Voldemort. It's your capacity to love. To love! Harry, I realize that circumstances have made that hard to understand. But don't you ever lose sight of that again Harry! As long as you live, don't you ever lower yourself to that evil bastard's level!" Hermione said as she kissed Harry's cheek.
"Besides, with all that has gone on these past six years, no one could expect you to hold it together as long as you did. You're 16 years old. That's a lot of responsibility for anyone to handle" Ron said as he put a hand on Harry's shoulder.
"Thank you, thank you both for being there for me. I don't know where I would be today if it weren't for you two" Harry said with his eyes watering again.
"We've been by each other's sides from the beginning, we aren't going to stop being there for one another now" Hermione said with a small grin on her face.
"But I've got so many apologizes to make. I have hurt people that I love" Harry whispered.
Ron stopped him before he could continue, "You can make all the apologies you need to in a few weeks when we go to the wedding. If I know mum and dad they have already forgiven you anyway. You're family and you always will be"
Harry had a genuine smile on his face as Ron said that.
"Unfortunately, I think a certain Weasley is going to need to hear more than an apology from you. In fact I believe she deserves quite a bit more" Hermione said as the smile on Harry's face disappeared.
"Mate, when it comes to my sister and apologies, I wouldn't trade places with you. Even with a wand to my head" Ron said as Hermione slapped his arm.
"Ginny would have every right never to have anything to do with me again" Harry said as he picked himself up from the ground.
"It will take some doing, but if she even feels half as much for you as you do for her, it won't be hard to win her forgiveness" Hermione said as they entered the house.
Twenty-four hours later...
"I never really gave up on you...Maybe that's why I like you so much"
The sound of Ginny's voice echoed in his mind as Harry woke up. A small smile on his face. The voice he heard in his mind still reminded him of his loneliness. But he could always temper the loneliness in his heart with the memory of his happiest times with her.
He reached up to turn on the light. He was careful not to break the light he had just replaced the night before. He made a decision that this would be the last night he spent in the cupboard. His back was killing him and the thought of sleeping on the other living room sofa was becoming more appealing to him. He turned on the light and reached over for the familiar blank piece of parchment which he had been staring at for the last two weeks. He opened his bottle of ink and grabbed his quill.