Gone, No Goodbyes: A New Harry Potter Fanfic
Don E. Delivery
Harry Potter has had enough of his life. Ron and Hermione married and are pregnant with their first child. Ginny left, mostly because he kicked her out. And as far as the rest of his friends go... who bloody cares? Harry never had that many friends anyway. And after years of making England a happier place he wants out. This time, he says, he's leaving without saying goodbye.
Humor - Adventure - Romance
Harry Potter / Other Character(s)
I've been thinking a lot about my life lately.
Not by necessity, as much as by my own choice, but a long look back on my childhood and the trials I've overcome has my belief in a calm, docile future a bit... jaded? Things are not well, as you already know. I've always been a restless sleeper and, now that I've laid off the firewhiskey and my tremendously fit ex-girlfriend, nothing tends to wear me out enough to make my mind shut down. I'm sure you could relate; most of my friends would be disappointed to see me ordering take out again, sitting silently on the squishy sofa in my flat, watching the neighbors across the hall fight for the umpteenth time this week. But, between me and you, I'm completely satisfied with my life.
Kind of. I mean, for the most part. No matter how calm things have become, I'm sure there will always be a lot of unnecessary strife I would rather do without. I suppose saving the Wizarding World created its own problems, and I was naive to think I could avoid it all, but I had honestly imagined myself relaxing on a beach somewhere for a few years, a glass of lemonade in hand and a bronze-skinned, totally unselfish girl massaging my shoulders as another beautiful day fades away.
Maybe it's destiny that has adhered me to this island, tucked away in the northern Atlantic, cool and dreary and dim and filled with wizards that love or loathe me. Maybe my fate is to watch the world turn rather than turn the world into something to watch. Maybe my life is as insignificant as yours, no offense.
Maybe I think too much.
When she isn't screaming at her new husband, Hermione tells me I've become more pensive since Hogwarts; Ron is similarly delighted to inform me I've turned into an even broodier git. They've got a child on the way, which is a beautiful, positive thing, so most of the time their arguments and disdainful attitude towards my way of life just leave me amused; after all, Ron would probably kill someone to eat dinner on the couch silently. Ginny, on the other hand, refuses to speak to me at all; not that I'm surprised. Don't care either, just because she's such a nag to begin with.
Yes, I broke up with you to go save the world. No, it doesn't mean that I've changed my mind now that I saved it.
I thought it sounded officious and even a bit glorious when I told her that this world, free from the tyranny of Voldemort, still needed a hero and I was going to be it. Hours of dragon shit-thick conversation, often at the top of our very loud voices, led me to a simple realization: No matter what I do for the rest of my life, I don't want to hear another fucking word from that woman.
The door slammed, the high-pitched shrieks ended, and I was left with beautiful silence.
I could not describe to you with mere words the joy I carried with me the rest of that day, and everyday since, comforted by the knowledge that although most of the Weasleys would hate me, the only two Weasleys that mattered were my best friends (and not Ginny's) anyway. Bill is probably too far up Fleur's ass to notice (not that I blame him) and Charlie probably can't even remember Ginny's name to start with. Of course, Molly made a show of our break up; she even thinks that I'm turning dark, bless her. Fred doesn't blame me, which is a little shocking, but he just fired his sister a few months back for stealing from the register. The family isn't in dire straits these days, but they still take their finances just as seriously.
My finances, however, are in a constant state of growth, having become so abundant that interest payments alone net me more than double an Auror's salary monthly - not that I'll tell Neville, who became an Auror after Hogwarts despite one of the worst Potions' scores in recent memory. In fact, I pay all of my bills, eat as lavishly as I please, and go just about anywhere a Portkey or Apparation can take me, and I still have a couple hundred quid leftover every month. It didn't take me long to figure out that two more years of schooling, day after day of dealing with Ministry bureacrats and risking my life over and over was not my destiny - it was just stupid. Following in the footsteps of my father, Sirius, Mad Eye Moody and even Tonks, no matter how brave and noble they were, will probably lead me to an early grave, something I'm absolutely desperate to avoid.
Am I afraid of death? Nah, I've already died once, if not more than once. It's just that I'm in no hurry to actually stay in the afterlife. I would like to live a little before I die, y'know?
I'm not afraid of fighting either; in fact, if being an Auror didn't tether me to Shacklebolt's nether-regions I wouldn't mind laying the smack down on a few criminals from time to time. I was easily one of the most talented wizards of my age before destroying the horcruxes and offing Voldemort, and with so much free time on my hands over the last few years, I've slowly reinforced my innate talent with knowledge.
Still, being alone in my apartment for long stretches was a double-edged sword; for each minute I spent working on self-made lesson plans, I spent five thinking how bored I was with... more or less everything. Once Ginny was gone, my thoughts turned to my future, and I found out something about myself.
I don't like it here.
See... I've thought it through logically. Shit, I planned every bit of it as meticulously as sweet, twelve-year old Hermione would have. I see no point in camping out in the UK waiting for some ex-Death Eater or rogue mercenary diguised as a meter maid to pop up on my doorstep and test how good my moniker still is. Being the Boy Who Lived does not imply that I'm infallible, that I won't die if someone chops off my head, or stabs me in the heart, or coughs on me wrong. So tonight, on the evening of my twenty-first birthday, I'm leaving - perhaps permanently. And the only thing better than the thought of starting my life anew in warmer, happier places, all by myself is...
You're the only person I'm telling.
Chapter One: Staging the Exit
Okay. I lied.
I chose Saturday to surprise my old friends with a visit; around eight in the evening I stood on the doorstep of the Weasley household in Manchester, and as usual, my two best friends were delighted to receive me. We spent nearly a half an hour catching up before Hermione left the sitting room, returning scant minutes later with a full meal for all of us.
We had been eating for five or six minutes before Ron belched loudly, disrupting all conversation. He thanked his wife for the meal, which he had finished and we were just starting on, and then proceeded to clear his throat.
He spoke, and then there was absolute silence.
Judging by his wife's reaction, Ron's words would precede his imminent death at Hermione's hands... which, in my honest opinion, would only be rushing the inevitable; she was bound to kill him for something sooner or later.
I slammed my fork down, scowling. Eyeing my best friend with disbelief, I said, "Ron, you have to be joking." When he averted his eyes and his ears began reddening I was struck by the sudden urge to run my hands through my hair; instead, I awkwardly rubbed them together and hid them under my chair, still unaccustomed to dealing with my new clean-shaven look. I turned to the pants in the family. "Hermione, will you talk some sense into him?"
"I've tried! He won't listen to me no matter what I say or do!"
"Did you try..." I gestured furtively with my hands, insinuating that marital relations might be the answer. Apparently this revolutionary idea had already been considered and then dismissed by the expecting Granger-turned-Weasley.
"Yes!" She said, leaping to her feet, before steadying herself for a moment. Her belly had grown rather massive in the last few weeks, and I couldn't imagine having to heft that luggage around all day. After a short pause, she continued, "But since I'm already pregnant, he doesn't care if he has sex with me at all!"
Ron looked a little green at her statement. "I'm sorry, but I keep thinking about hitting little Hugo when I'm... y'know. It just ain't right, Hermione."
She was starting to growl, so I laughed and tried to change the subject. "Look, your private life should remain private, for all of our sakes. Merlin knows you're squicky enough when I just assume you're doing it. But going back to what you said before - have you really thought this through?"
"Joining the Auror corps is a brillaint idea, Harry! In fact," Ron said, pointing at me. "You should join with me so we can do all our courses together!"
This was a terrible idea, and it didn't take me long to tell him so. Of course, Hermione jumped at the opportunity to further dissuade Ron.
"Ron, we've already talked about this," she said, in a tone that showed just how beleaguered the argument had made her. "It is extremely dangerous, you will be training as much as sixteen hours some days, and after the first two years you'll be expected to do tons of paperwork (which you hate) and you'll cover an entire segment of London on your own..."
"Yeah," Ron said in a voice not-unlike Luna's when she talked about nargles. "I can't wait to arrest somebody!" He punctuated this statement with a punch to his palm. He pulled out his wand and aimed it like one would a Muggle handgun. "Malfoy! In the name of the Ministry of Magic, you're UNDER ARREST-"
I shook my head and interrupted him. "Ron, after all of the shit the Ministry has put us through in the last decade, you're going to sign up as a recruit, and be subjected to the same type of brain-washing as Crouch, Scrimgeour, Dawlish..."
These names had an effect on Ron; however, it was not the reaction I was hoping for. He laughed. "Moody, Shacklebolt..." His face twisted then, and he gave me a more serious look. "Frank and Alice Longbottom, Nymphadora Tonks, James Potter..."
I understood his point then - that my father was a hero to the United Kingdom, and he had been an Auror. "Yes," I relented, "but despite the heroic deeds of these brave men and women, all but one of the people you name are dead and Shacklebolt has been morphed from a hitwizard to a damn dictator!"
Ron and Hermione both winced, well-aware how strongly I hated Shacklebolt these days. Despite the fact the war was over, he had sent many men and women to prison for their suspected Death Eater ties, including my own personal friends. Michael Corner's mother and father were both suspected Death Eaters who fled the country, leaving him to fend for himself, and as a result, he was still incarcerated after six months in Azkaban. Adding insult to injury, Anthony Goldstein had just been released, having been put in jail for disrupting a meeting of the Wizengamot concerning his best friend. He probably didn't help his cause calling the Chief Warlock a dirty name during the proceedings.
John Smalling was a bit of an asshole though. Anthony had really hit home with that one.
"He's not a dictator, Harry," said Hermione, who had been quiet for far longer than normal. I noticed she was smearing some type of lotion on her exposed belly, so I quickly averted my eyes, not intending on seeing anything of Hermione's exposed. "He's put a lot of evil people behind bars, and even though a few didn't deserve to be there, I wouldn't say he was doing a bad job."
"Hermione, if I had the power Sinister Shacklebolt had I would have removed all of the prisoners and used an Auror detail to make sure the Dementors never left the island. You know first hand how awful Sirius looked after his time in Azkaban, and even Hagrid was petrified of the place. I can only imagine how Michael is holding up."
She bit her lip. "It must be horrible," she agreed. "I know he's been allowed to have a lot of visitors though, and I know they eat a lot better."
"Tough to eat when you vomit every fifteen minutes from reliving your worst memories." I was scowling, I could feel it.
Ron spoke up for the first time in a while. "They questioned him and he said he didn't know anything." He chuckled humorlessly. "He knew they were up to something, if he would have given them something he wouldn't have been charged. But he insisted he knew nothing, nada, zip, zilch! The Ministry had just passed a law right after the war that said uncooperative prisoners would have to spend six months in Azkaban, so guess what? Now it's air-tight."
"Right. And who passed the law? Was it - oh, I don't know - Shacklebolt?"
"But do you remember why they passed the law?"
I did, so I nodded reluctantly. "Rookwood's son... what was his name?"
"Austin," Hermione whispered. "He was in his fifth year when we graduated-"
"Yeah," Ron chuckled darkly. "A fifth year who attacked one of his guards and tried to slip out of a Ministry holding cell the night before his trial. Real bright, that Rookwood boy." He shook his head. "Anyway, none of us could have seen Michael coming-"
None of us had any idea Michael's parents were Death Eaters until he was already being held captive. It was well known he didn't keep in touch with them, but no one knew anything else about them. When he denied the Ministry's accusations that he had been in touch with his parents, Shacklebolt decided he was not cooperating.
"And there was nothing we could do-"
Within a month his parents had been caught, and under Veritaserum, they confessed to robberies and murders in the Muggle world. Not once were they asked about their son.
"And at least he gets out in a month." Ron finished, relaxing a little bit in his recliner. His father had bought it for him, and both enjoyed quickly pulling the lever, almost tossing themselves out of the chair in the process.
Even though Michael would be getting released soon, I personally thought that was little compensation for being held captive for having bad parents.
We had already discussed his situation multiple times so I moved on to more pressing issues. Namely, Ron's dunderheaded decision to be an Auror.
"You're still a fool for getting wrapped up in that type of bollocks, Ron. You better keep your Foe Glass on you at all times because I guarantee there are snakes in the Ministry that would love nothing more than to sink their teeth into you..."
"It will be fine, Harry! You worry more than Hermione!"
Hermione huffed. "We are both worried because you can't see how difficult this is going to be on you, me, and our child. You'll never be home to see Rose-"
Ron rolled his eyes and interrupted saying, "Hugo!" He was certain that they would be having a boy first, just like his own parents.
"-or Hugo," she continued, giving him an annoyed look. "But Ron, with you gone all the time, am I just supposed to sit home and raise the children by myself?"
"You won't be by yourself!" Ron rushed to his wife's side, taking her by the same hand that carried her beautiful diamond ring. She looked at him, blushing, and one corner of her lips quirked upward in a smile. I rolled my eyes, having seen the same thing a billion times from the pair. Ron stepped back a moment later, smiling. "You know my mom will always be here to help you, Hermione!"
I literally had to place my right hand on the table in order to keep from smacking myself in the forehead; even Ron, who was notoriously naive, looked like he regretted his statement. Hermione was notorious herself, mostly for being bossy, and adding another even bossier woman into the equation would cause an explosion I didn't think I wanted to be around to see. Luckily I was leaving in a few hours anyway.
Hoping to forego the usual 'I'm the child's mom, not your mom!' argument, I spoke up, making a belated attempt at changing the subject. It didn't work.
"Your mom is not in control of our lives, Ronald Weasley. I am having this child, and you will be with me or I will join my parents in bloody Austrailia - and I am not joking about this! I have a say in this marriage, and you are violating your vows if you get this job...'
"What do you mean 'violating my vows'? You're being too dramatic, Hermione!" The fact that he swept his long red hair over his shoulder as he said this was not ironic in the slightest.
"You told me when we wed that you would be there in sickness and health, right?"
"And 'til death do us part, right?" Her voice was rising, which did not bode well for either of us.
"And you swore on your magic you would always take what I have to say into account before you make a major decision. You are bound, against the threat of losing your magic, to at least hear me out!"
"I have heard you out, Hermione, and no matter what you say this is what I want to do with my life!"
I listened to them go back and forth, idly stirring my coffee and looking around the room. Their home was decorated in burgundy and brown, not too dissimilar to the common room I had shared with them for six years. None of us had returned for our seventh year at Hogwarts (though Ron and Hermione both finished their NEWTS) but I knew we would always carry an affinity for all-things-Gryffindor, especially the house colors.
"Look guys, I didn't come here so we could argue all night. I have something important to say."
I was summarily ignored, as they continued rudely sniping at eachother. Growing annoyed, I pulled my wand from the holster on my forearm and slapped it against the table, which leapt a few inches off the ground, sending plates, silverware and glasses flying, though none of them fell to the floor. My two arguing friends sat back down silently, having been on their feet and screaming at eachother.
Hermione cleared her throat awkwardly. "Yes, Harry? You have something to say?"
Ron smiled knowingly. "Is this about Ginny?"
I shook my head so fast that Hermione giggled slightly. "No, no, no... Merlin no! I definitely do not want to talk about your sister, now or ever." I took a deep breath, preparing to drop a bomb on them, though only I knew how big a bomb. "I am also starting a new job."
Hermione once again leapt to her feet, this time approaching me and putting an arm around my shoulders, smiling happily. "It's about time you joined the working class!" Ron also added his congratulations, though he was obviously a bit dismayed I wouldn't be joining him in Auror training, while Hermione continued to look at me with undisguised pride in her eyes.
It was a few more moments before Hermione thought to ask, "What kind of job is it, Harry?"
"This may come as a surprise to you, but I am actually a really accomplished Occlumens and pretty much the world's only remaining specialist on horcruxes. Well," I said, knowing my words sounded slightly unbelievable. "There is Slughorn, and he's actually my connection to this job, but he wants no part of horcruxes and so he referred me as the most likely candidate. Pretty much everyone has heard the story of the Battle of Hogwarts, so it's common knowledge Dumbledore and I took care of the horcruxes. Seems like a perfect fit, honestly."
Hermione sighed, idly playing with her hair. I could tell she wasn't happy I would be spending my time chasing horcruxes, but she was trying to weigh my restless, altogether-boring as shit lifestyle against the person she remembered from school - noble, driven to the point of recklessness, always absorbed in my work, always pushing the brink of greatness...
No matter how much I had been forced into my role as Chosen One, no matter how I loathed my lot in life, I had grown with the power and prestige of the position, and when the sudden glory of Voldemort's death had slowly faded into... insignificance, it was almost too much to bear. It had been the worst part of my life, but it was my life and by Merlin, some part of my sick, sad, twisted little mind craved that attention. My misfortune was something I could rely on. Being a brilliant, powerful, handsome, rich philanthropist did not suit me, not one bit.
Hermione knew that, perhaps more than anyone else, but she always knew everything, didn't she? "I just wish it wasn't so dangerous, Harry... I mean, do you even know what kind of wizard you're going up against?"
"Actually, from what they told me, it's many different wizards. There are caves running under the Congo that contain an entire clan of indigenous peoples' dead, and from what I've heard..."
For a while I told them of my plan to leave the United Kingdom for six months to live in Africa, raiding tombs, getting paid, and more to the point, ridding the world of horcruxes. I did find it remarkably appealing, but not for the reasons I gave my friends; after all, I wasn't just going to dig up dead wizards in the Congo. I planned on seeing a Nundu in real life in the Sudan, from afar no doubt, and I would be spending the first part of my journey in Greece...
Basically, I had thrown out my long list of things I'd like to do and instead decided on two simple, unassailable rules for my journey: If it looks like fun... do it now. If you can't do it now... do it later.
"But Harry," said Hermione, pulling me from my thoughts. "I can distinctly remember you saying how glad you were that you would never have to see another horcrux when you defeated Voldemort. Where did this sudden change of heart come from? You've been dismissive of all other attempts to keep you busy, even higher paying, safer jobs that allow you to stay right here in England. So..." she trailed off, looking at me expectantly.
"Well, Hermione," I began, buying myself time by taking a sip of my lukewarm coffee. I made a face at the bitter taste. "None of those jobs offered me an opportunity to learn, experiencing new, interesting things, while also seeing a part of the world I'll never be able to see otherwise. I've heard that Central and Northern Africa is beautiful, if dangerous." I followed this statement with another sip of the coffee.
"Why do you keep making that face?"
"It's not coffee. It's a Mocha Latte," Ron informed him, adding a distinctly Hermione-ish emphasis on the name of the drink.
"Whatever. It sucks," I declared petulantly, pushing my mug aside.
Hermione rolled her eyes. "Look, I'm sure Africa is going to be a lot of fun, really, it's just that I'm worried. So many people hate you, Harry." She paused. "Not that it's your fault," she rushed to assure me. "It's just that you're a bright, famous face that represents everything good and wholesome about the world-"
As she talked I took my wand from its holster and tapped my face slightly, twice on each side. Without saying a word my face became a perfect replica of another, and when she gradually noticed the change she let out a squeal of fright. "What the hell, Harry!"
Ron slammed a hand against the table and roared with laughter. "Nice one, mate!"
"Obviously I'm capable of keeping my identity secret. I learned a lot from Slughorn about it and I've practiced like mad. It's going to be very easy for me to blend in."
Hermione nodded, still looking a little awed by Harry's body being attached to Ron's face. "Your freckles are a little different on the left side," she finally said.
"Well," I said, scratching the back of my head, "I'm not perfect at it yet, but I think I'll be fine. It's much more likely I get hurt by a horcrux than mobbed for being Harry Potter anyway. I'm sure we'll be secluded as well, so I doubt we'll be Apparating in and out, drawing a lot of attention. Room and board is included, meals taken care of, and at the end of the mission we each get 50,000 galleons - not like I need it, but thats no small salary."
"Auror only pays 15,000 a year, Harry! That's a fuckton of money!"
Ron was still a little quick to anger over his own monetary situation, though he had worked hard for what little he had. I played it off.
"Yeah, Ron, but it's not really about the money. It's about seeing the world and, and, expanding my horizons... I could be myself for a change." I kept a straight face and he relented, nodding his head as if he knew I'd say something like that all along. Thinking back to my school days, I probably would have said something that cliche, and actually meant it. The fact that everything I was telling them was a borderline lie and I was a tremendously lousy person for it was not lost on me.
"Anyway, I'm leaving soon so I just wanted to let you know-"
Ron and Hermione shared a look. Then Ron said, "How soon?"
I had the good grace to duck my head. "Tonight."
"WHAT!" came the expected reaction from the two of them. Honestly, if I were in their shoes this would have come as a complete shock to me, so I can't blame them.
"Harry Potter! How long have you known you were going away?"
"Well, I knew about the offer for about a week, but I took my time researching it and talking to the people involved before I told anyone. It would be rather pointless to say I'm going to Africa for a job and then not even get the job, y'know?" This sounded weak at best, but Ron looked convinced, even if Hermione didn't.
"I just-" she started, shaking her head half-way through. "It's just... Harry, you are leaving us! We're your best friends!" She began to tear up, and I wasn't sure if it was a side effect of carrying a child inside of her or a result of her truly being upset about me leaving, though I had a feeling it was more of the latter. "Who is going to help us raise our children... who is going to have children so that they can be friends with our children and grow up and have little children..."
Her hysterical questions trailed off into sobs, and Ron gave me a look that plainly said, "I'm sorry, mate, but you're making my wife cry, so kindly fuck off."
My return look of, "Hey. Your problem, not mine," was met with an unkind gesture involving Ron's middle digit.
After some time, and a lot of cajoling from Ron, Hermione finally stopped crying long enough to speak with me again. "Harry, like I said before, I'm really proud of you. You're doing something with your life besides wasting your parents' fortune and bedding every woman you set your eyes on. As long as you are happy," she said, stooping over to pick up one of Ron's shirts and having trouble reaching it. When Ron reached over carefully and picked it up for her with smile, her eyes started to water suspiciously.
"All I want you to know is that we love you, we will always love you, and whenever you come back we better be the first people you see... and - and - I'm just so proud of you, Harry..."
She wrapped her arms around my chest and squeezed briefly before her tears could get the best of her. She walked away swiftly, and I could tell she was really upset. She went into the bedroom and shut the door, and I heard her soft sobs from the other side.
"She'll be fine," Ron said, though he was probably just trying to convince himself. "You're her best friend, y'know, and she's not used to you being somewhere else. She'll come around - you'll see!"
He patted me on the back, and I smiled at him, though I'm sure it didn't reach my eyes. "Yeah," I muttered, trying to forget Hermione's face, tear-stricken and hurt, but still caring enough to tell me she loves me before I leave. In my mind, I kept hearing her miserable voice saying, 'I'm just so proud of you, Harry...'
So, why did I suddenly feel sick?
-End of Chapter One-