Harry stopped right before the entrance of Hagrid's hut and he took a deep breath. His heart had begun to pound rapidly, but he was determined all the same. He would have liked staying out there for a few more minutes, just to calm himself down, but Fang must have smelt him because the dog's barks began to shake the small hut.

The door was thrown open with such a force that Harry wasn't surprised to see Hagrid grinning down at him. "Harry! Yer here! Was wonderin' if ya'd come ter visit!"

Harry nodded slowly and stepped inside the hut after Hagrid, feeling all the more worse at the excited words from the giant's mouth. "Hagrid, I came for a reason."

Hagrid's eyes dulled slightly and the glitter had left them. "What is it?" he asked, his voice even lower than usual.

"It's nothing to do with Vold--You-Know-Who," Harry reassured quickly, recognizing the look on Hagrid's face. "It's just . . . Hagrid, I've come to say good-bye."

"Ah, that's nothin'!" Hagrid bellowed, patting Harry on the back and making him lose his balance slightly. "Yu'll come ter see me, righ'? An' ya can always find me in the Leaky Cauldron."

Harry shook his head grimly. "Not good-bye like that. I-I'm leaving. I don't know for how long or where I'll be going. I just . . . I need to get away, you know?"

Hagrid's face fell, but he nodded understandingly. "Do what you need ter do."

Harry let out a meek smile. "That means a lot. You're the first person I've told, but I've known for months now."

"There are others who need ter know mor'n me," Hagrid said quietly. "I apprec'ate ya tellin' me firs', mind."

Harry nodded. Then he did something that made him blush: he hugged Hagrid. Hagrid seemed surprised at the gesture, but was clutching Harry tight and beginning to cry. This alone made Harry regret the hug, but he was actually quite touched at the giant's tears.

"I'll miss ya, 'Arry," he said. He blew his nose quite loudly, then waved Harry off, as if it were too emotional with Harry still standing there.

Harry left the hut, but didn't get two feet before his eyes trailed to the castle, taking in its length and beauty, memorizing it. Today was the last day he would ever spend at Hogwarts. The last day in seven years. At this sudden realization, Harry let his eyes sweep across everything they could. He wanted an imprint of it like this: the sun in the sky, surrounded by white-marshmallow clouds, floating lazily in a brilliant blue sky; the grass was a true green that caught the eye, and was dotted here and there with brightly colored flowers; the lake reflected the sky in the same bright blue, and a tentacle could be seen lazily soaking up the sunshine.

It took Harry a few long minutes before he finally snapped out of his daze. He walked across the grass to the big tree that he knew Ron and Hermione would be at. They had made it a tradition to sit underneath the tree every year on the last day of school.

Sure enough, Harry's two best friends were laying on the grass in the shade. Harry was a little surprised to see Ginny sitting there as well. Harry wondered if he should tell them with Ginny there, but he quickly shook his head and decided that Ginny wouldn't make it any worse.

"Hey, Harry," Hermione called out as soon as she recognized him.

Harry nodded in response and sat down tentatively, reading to jump up at any moment.

"You look tense," Ron observed. "What's up?"

Harry shook his head, then looked deep in thought. "I'm leaving," he finally said, his voice so quiet he wondered if anyone heard him.

"Of course you're leaving! We're all leaving tomorrow," Ron said as though this were obvious.

"I'm leaving you," Harry said after a moment. All three heads turned to him in confusion. "I need to go. I can't stay here anymore."

"Here as in Hogwarts right?" Hermione asked, panic in her voice. "You have to leave Hogwarts."

"I have to leave England," Harry corrected.

Ron snorted very loudly. "Well that's bloody nice, now isn't it? Do you happen to have a *reason* for leaving?"

Harry shrugged. "It's something I have to do. I feel like I'm suffocating here. I need to get away before it's too late. Do you understand?"

"You're leaving?" Ginny asked suddenly, acting as if it had just sunk in.

Ron sat backwards, appearing calm again. "Where are we going first?" he asked.

"We?" Harry repeated.

Ron looked up sharply at the doubt in Harry's voice. "We. You, Hermione, and I are going tomorrow. Out of England on a holiday."

"Ron . . ." Harry began.

"What?" Ron asked, eyes narrowed.

" *I* am leaving tomorrow," Harry said, voice forlorn. "I need to go alone."

"Okay, I understand *perfectly*," Ron spat, standing up. "Apparently you are leaving both your home *and* your best friends!"

"That's not--"

"Just shut up," Ron interrupted. The red haired boy then stomped off, anger in every muscle of his body.

Harry turned to Hermione. "And I suppose you feel the same way too?" he snapped.

"No," Hermione said hesitatingly. "Just promise to owl me. And promise to keep safe."

Harry nodded and before he could say anything, Hermione jumped up to chase after Ron. Harry hoped that she could get Ron calmed down because he really didn't want the rest of his time with Ron to be spent arguing or not talking at all.

Harry suddenly realized that someone was staring at him and he looked over to sheepishly find Ginny was still with him under the tree. Her eyes were wide as she stared at him, and she stood as well to leave. Only her reasons for leaving where different from Ron's . . .

"Ginny," Harry called out, standing up.

Ginny turned around and her eyes still held the hurt that had made him stop her from leaving. Harry didn't know exactly what to say now that he had her attention and he stuffed his hands in his pockets in a sign of nervousness. "I'm sorry," was all he came up with.

He couldn't meet her gaze, but he was sure that Ginny had accepted his apology. She was Ginny, afterall, how could she not?

Harry shook his head of thoughts of Ginny and was relieved to see that Ginny was nowhere in sight. This, however, was not as pleasing as one might expect. Next, he needed to tell Dumbledore.

* * * * *

Hermione must have worked magic on Ron; the said red head was considerably more polite to Harry and seemed to have accepted the fact that Harry was leaving.

The next day on the train, Ginny also seemed to have forgotten the pain she'd felt the day before. Her vivacious nature was back and she laughed and joked throughout the train ride, not seeming to have a thought in her mind that Harry was leaving that day for who-knew-how-long.

In fact, nobody brought up that Harry was leaving. They hadn't since he'd arrived back from Dumbledore's office. This made Harry both comfortable and uncertain at the same time. Towards the end of the ride back, Harry finally blurted out what he'd wanted to say for awhile: "I'm going to go as soon as we get to the platform."

Ron's eyes clouded over and he looked out the window. Hermione looked helplessly at Ron, then gave Harry a dirty look, as if blaming him for Ron's behavior. Ginny's eyes took on a pleading tone.

"Stay for one night," Ginny said softly. "Mum would be horrified if you didn't."

Harry looked back at Ron, who looked as hopeful of his answer as Ginny. Harry considered this for a long time before finally nodding reluctantly. "I'll stay. But for one night only -- I'm leaving tomorrow morning."

Ginny looked ready to hug him, and he was very glad that she didn't. Ron's eyes became clear again and he set off the topic to Quidditch, apparently having forgiven Harry.

The rest of the train ride was sent in very much the same fashion, meaningless talk that kept their minds away from Harry's soon-to-be departure. Before they knew it, the train had stopped and they were greeting Mrs. Weasley on the platform.

Molly Weasley was so happy, in fact, that she collected them all together for some ice cream in Diagon Alley. They chatted happily; Molly telling them of family life, and Ron, Ginny, Hermione, and Harry telling her various stories from school. They seemed to skitter off the topic of Harry's plans of leaving, and it began to get on Harry's nerves.

"Mrs. Weasley?" Harry said when they had all broken into a comfortable silence.

"Yes, dear? And call me Molly," Molly said warmly, smiling at Harry in such a way that made Harry want to give up his plans and stay with her for the rest of his life.

"Molly," Harry said, sounding a bit nervous. "I'm . . ."

"Leaving," Ron broke in.

"Wherever to?" Molly asked, sounding miffed. "I told you you're welcome to stay at the Burrow for as long as you like."

"Everywhere," Harry answered. "I'm leaving England for a trip."

Molly smiled at Harry. "Well I can't think of anyone more deserving of a holiday. I suppose you'll be dragging Ron with you?"

"No," Ron said coldly. "He's going alone. He doesn't know when he's coming back either. He just wants to get away."

"Ron--" Hermione began.

"Ronald Weasley," Molly interrupted the young girl, "you will take that look on your face and replace it with a pleasant one. You cannot expect Harry to act upon your every wish and I forbid you from making him stay. I reckon Harry needs this trip more than anyone else with all he's gone through in the past couple years. You should be ashamed for the way you're acting."

Harry smiled his first real smile in gratitude towards Mrs. Weasley. He honestly hadn't expected anyone to understand when he'd began planning.

Ron finally looked up and gave Harry a look that meant he wanted to talk alone later on. Harry nodded ever so slightly and Molly began talking at once. She asked where Harry was going and offered to do all his laundry. Hermione offered to go over his shrinking spell again so that he'd be comfortable taking all of his belongings with him.

* * * * *

Harry awoke early the next morning, wanting a chance to himself before the rest of the family gave him good-byes. Hermione had practiced the shrinking spell with him for an hour while the rest of the family looked on. Ron and Ginny had been playing Wizarding chess at the time and for once Ginny lost to Ron very easily. Harry guiltily realized that her thoughts must have been somewhere else for her to be so distracted.

"Harry? What are you doing awake so early?" Ron mumbled from his bed, sounding half-asleep.

Harry jumped, not expecting Ron to wake up for at least another half-hour.

"Are you leaving now?" Ron asked haughtily.

"No," Harry said reassuringly. "I just wanted to think a little. I'm going to say good-by to everyone after breakfast, then I'll leave."

"Where are you going first?" Ron asked.

"Somewhere where they speak English. Honestly I'm considering Australia."

Ron laughed. "You're serious? Kangaroos and wild accents?"

"Hey!" Harry said indignantly, but he began to laugh along with Ron. When they both calmed down, Harry wiped at his eyes. "I guess you're right. I don't think I'd fit in Australia."

"What about America?" Ron suggested.

Harry shook his head. "I'm going to go there eventually, but I don't know if I want to go there just yet. Everybody has guns and they have a lot of crime."

"Guns?"

"Never mind," Harry said quickly. "What about Canada? There are a lot of British people there, right?"

"What about Ireland?" Ron said after a moment. "It's nearby so it won't be so long to Apparate, and according to Seamus it's really breathtaking."

"Seamus actually said it was breathtaking?" Harry asked doubtfully.

"Well . . . he showed me some pictures," Ron said, blushing slightly. "Didn't you see the pictures?"

Harry nodded. "Well, then I'll go to Ireland first. Maybe I'll even run into Seamus for a hello."

"I doubt it. He's staying in England to be with Lavender, remember?" Ron pointed out.

"I forgot. How soon do you think it'll be before those two get married?"

"Not very. Seamus has a ring and everything, but he just can't work up the courage to ask her," Ron said.

Their talk was interrupted by an unexpected knock on the door. Without their answering, Hermione came into the room. "I can't find Ginny," she said worriedly.

"Oh she's probably just upset that Harry's going away," Ron said good- naturedly. "Don't worry about her, she'll be fine."

Hermione nodded and gave Harry a sad look. "I'll miss you, you know."

"I know," Harry said, nodding. "I'll miss you too, Hermione."

Ron let out a noise.

"And you, Ron. I guess," Harry joked, throwing his pillow at Ron. He was rewarded with two pillows being thrown back at him. Harry pushed them behind him and leaned backwards. "Gee, thanks, Ron."

"Hey! Give me my pillow back!" Ron protested.

"Honestly," Hermione muttered, amused. "You two are just like little boys."

Harry got up from his pillows and threw them both at Hermione.

"Well at least it's being used for a good cause," Ron said, giving a longing look at his pillow. The three friends began to laugh. More out of nerves than anything. For seven years they had been together except for a few weeks at a time. What would it be like with one of them gone? And for how long?

"Remember to owl," Hermione said suddenly. Harry noticed grudgingly that her laughter had turned to tears. He always got nervous when Hermione burst into tears, no matter how often it happened.

"I will," Harry promised. "And I'll send you loads of pictures too."

"Harry's going to go to Ireland first," Ron said, proud that he knew this information before anybody else. "Apparently potatoes have more of an appeal to Harry than I thought."

"Hey!" Harry protested. He grinned. "They also have corned beef."

Another nervous laugh was going to begin when Mrs. Weasley's welcome voice interrupted, calling them all down for breakfast.

* * * * *

Dublin, Ireland, turned out to be different from what Harry expected. Instead of a bunch soccer-crazy folks with loud accents like Seamus, as Harry had thought, the city was very much like any other city. Sure, the accents were there, but Harry soon found that Seamus had simply been blessed (or cursed, as Harry thought) with an obnoxious voice.

It wasn't long before Harry found a nice hotel that wasn't too shabby, but not exactly luxurious either. He had opted for staying in Muggle Ireland. In fact, his whole trip was to be spent as a Muggle. Of all things he didn't want, being recognized was at the top of his list. This trip was about him, *Harry Potter*. Not the scar or the many things he had made himself famous for.

Harry began to unpack (putting everything on his bed and performing the unshrinking spell, then going through it to put away) and his mind trailed off to that morning's good-byes. Ginny hadn't shown up all morning, and Harry was slightly surprised to find that this bothered him more than it would have with anybody else. Nobody seemed to comment on Ginny's absence, however, so Harry thought it wise to stay quiet about it as well.

Saying good-by to Hermione and Molly had been pretty easy, though slightly annoying. Both had been beside themselves with tears and Harry was overwhelmed with the mountain of woman emotion. No matter how well he knew Hermione and her sudden bursting of tears, he never got used to it. Although it had been different with Mrs. Weasley. Almost like a mother hugging her son good-by, and this had made Harry glow with happiness.

The worst had been saying good-by to Ron. There had been an awkward hand shake, then Ron cursed slightly and jerked Harry forward for a hug in which they did no more than pat each other on the back and pull away quickly. The gesture, all the same, had been very touching. Then Ron had gone on about the owling and such and even suggested a few places for him to go. (A few things for him to do in those places also, but Harry was sure that Ron had only been joking.)

Harry's thoughts suddenly came back to the present as he pulled out a book with a scarlet cover. He curiously ran his fingers over the side of it to find it was so old that the title was unreadable. He rolled his eyes, figuring that Hermione had slipped it in his knapsack, thinking that it would do him some good.

Suddenly the book made a funny noise as Harry's hands ran absent-mindedly over it. He dropped it quickly and backed away, reaching for his wand instinctively.

The book hit the floor and in an instant it was no longer a book, but a person. "Ouch!"

"Ginny?" Harry asked in disbelief.

Ginny sent him a cheeky grin. "Hullo, Harry."

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Hoping you guys will like this one. I'm sorry I haven't updated Secrets in quite awhile -- I just am drained of inspiration. This one may not have the second chapter up right away either. I know what's going to happen, but every time I write the second chapter it doesn't sound right. No worries, though, it happens all the time. Eventually I'll write it and it'll be right. It always turns out that way.

Love From,

Haley

P.S. If you *really* want to show me how much you want the second chapter up, and how much you like *this* chapter, there's always that cute little box below that lets you review. (*hint hint*)