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Life Collides Chapter Twelve:

Thrust Into the Past

Everything was so familiar. They were in a rented van, being driven by a friend of Josh’s. He worked for the sister label that was based in London, and had been recruited to drive as nobody felt comfortable to drive ‘on the wrong side of the road’. Harry sat comfortably in the back with Emily as they passed King’s Cross station on their way to the Hostel they would be staying at.

“It’s all we could afford really,” Josh was saying from the front as they girls complained. “Were staying in a proper hotel every where else though, in Scotland and Ireland. It’s just that London is so damn expensive – and I thought you guys would like the road trip feel.” Josh smirked in the rear view mirror.

“Shut up Josh, you know I hate hostels,” Emily snapped, then shrugged. “But I guess its better then sleeping in the van.” Emily admitted.

Harry was hardly paying attention as they travelled deeper and deeper into London. It was still a little surreal that he was back in his Homeland. On the plane ride he had tried to ignore the sound of British voices, pretending that only the foreign sound of Canadian tongues surrounded him. He had pretended he wasn’t going to England, trying to force the anxious thoughts out of his mind and soul.

But it wasn’t long before they were landing, and Harry finally had to face the truth. He was home, and everywhere he looked he saw reminders of the life he had left behind. Shutting his eyes, Harry tried to forget these images and focus on breathing evenly. To the others it appeared as if he was just tired from the long flight, but as Harry heard the conversation between Emily and Georgia finish, he was aware that Georgia’s eyes were on him.

Lifting one eye lid, he looked at Georgia. She had a worried expression, and was about to ask him if he was all right. Preferring not to have everyone know how he was feeling, he shook his head slightly. Georgia rolled her eyes, but turned around in her seat, facing forward. It wouldn’t be much longer before they would be arriving at the Hostel, and Harry would be able just sit down and hide away from the noise.

“Is this it?” Emily asked, excited next to Harry.

Opening his eyes Harry found that they had turned on to quiet road, no cars, and a few people walking around on the streets. Semi’s and small duplex’s lined the street, all Victorian in style. The van continued down to the other end of the street where a much larger home was, separated from the other. Like the others it was an old Victorian home with a white front porch and above deck. A sign on the front above the door read ‘The London Inn’ and Harry wondered if they had put that there just to trick people into staying there.

“Oh it’s so cool!” Georgia cheered getting out of the van first, quickly followed by everyone else.

Standing now, in the heart of London Harry placed himself. He knew the Leaky Cauldron was close by, in the same ‘empty’ alley as always. So close in fact, that it was probably only a twenty minute walk. He could hear the hustle and bustle of London all around him, even in a residential area; they were close to the road and people walked past, not noticing the newcomers.

“Harry, grab something!” Adam shouted, carrying two suitcases. All their gear was to be kept in the van while they stayed at the Hostel. Doing what he was told; Harry picked up two more suitcases and followed Adam inside the home. The front entrance was much like a hotel’s, except smaller, and a lot more chaotic. Noise seemed to come from every where, and in the common room that was just off the main hall was a dozen people all talking and milling around. Adam didn’t stop at the front desk, just continued up the stairs, and Harry followed without question.

When they arrived at the first landing, Harry noticed how the house was much like the one he lived in, except the rooms were bigger and contained two bunk beds in each. The first room they entered was to be the room where Alan, Josh, his friend Mathew, and Harry would all be staying. The next was where Emily, Georgia, Adam, and Teddy would be staying. Harry wasn’t sure if this was because they were couples, but he didn’t say anything aloud.

“I hope they aren’t any crazy people,” Emily mumbled, taking her final bag from Harry and placing it in a large trunk that sat at the end of the bunk. There were four in every room, one for each person’s things, which they would lock. There was no other safe way to keep their things from thieves, as Georgia called them.

As they settled into their rooms it was decided they should get something to eat. Josh suggested a restaurant near by and they left on foot. It surprised how well Harry knew London, considering he hadn’t spent much outside of Diagon Alley when he was there. But he had, however, been to Ministry numerous times and took Muggle ways of transportation. This alone had given enough knowledge not to get lost. Another thing that surprised him was how well Josh knew the area. He said it was because a long time when he was in his early twenties he actually lived in London with an ex-girlfriend.

“Now he’s married, and living back in good old Toronto.” Emily smirked, making fun of her brother as he reminisced about his ‘younger days’.

“You’re only thirty-one, aren’t you?” Harry asked as they took their seats at the restaurant.

“Yes, but because I’m nine years old then her, she always has to make it seem like I’m fifty or something.” Josh complained.

Overall the night was good, but Harry hadn’t been able to relax much. He had been looking every which way in case he spotted any one he knew, wizard or not. Before he had left he had heard that Dudley had gotten in to College somehow, and was living in London while his Uncle and Aunt still lived in Surrey. Georgia had sensed his unease, and when they left the restaurant, she fell into the back of the group to walk next to him.

“Why so silent Harry?” Georgia asked casually, trying to be a little humorous.

Harry forced a smirk at Georgia’s tone. He knew she was just trying to be gentle about his behavior, but he didn’t really want to respond. But she wouldn’t leave him alone if he didn’t, so Harry sighed heavily. “We’re not too far away from where I grew up; I didn’t think this would be so surreal, strange…” Harry trailed off not sure if he was using the right word or not.

“I suppose it is kind of crazy for you.” Georgia admitted. “I mean, you ran away from this place-”

“I didn’t run away.” Harry quickly interrupted darkly.

Georgia froze, surprised by Harry’s brash behavior. “I didn’t mean that-”

“I know what you meant. And I’m telling you, I didn’t run away.” Harry said once again, emphasizing heavily on every syllable.

“All right, you didn’t run away.” Georgia said shortly, choosing to say nothing else. Harry did feel a little bad for snapping at her, but at the same time he didn’t like her to think he had run away from England. He hadn’t, he had just wanted to start new.

Or did I run away?

Harry’s mind couldn’t help but ask himself. He had left England so quickly, and without a goodbye. He didn’t have any closer to that part of his life, simply packed up and left with no word but a note. He hadn’t gone to see Ginny, had tried to move on in England. He just left. He had runaway from his heart-break and the guilt. Dipping his head closer to his chest, he tried to hide the sudden frown on his face. It was as if everything was starting to close on him. Had it really taken this long for him to realize this truth? Or had he known all along and was simply sub-consciously forcing it out of his thoughts.

Georgia slowly joined Adam again, most likely attracted to the happier feeling that exuded from him then from Harry, and he couldn’t blame her. He was a sod for being so sharp with her, when she was simply being his friend. Something that he still hadn’t got used to. It had always been Hermione or Ron who slapped sense into him, and it was still taking some getting-used-to with Georgia.

When they arrived back at the Hostel everyone was eager to meet the others. A few bohemians were staying at The London Inn and Teddy was quick to start jamming with them. Harry chose to return his room where Alan, already snoring in his bunk. A little upset that he couldn’t play around with his guitar in his own privacy from the other’s Harry decided that it would just be best to go to bed early as he was already jet leg from the long trip.

The soft morning light shown through the half open window, and hit Harry in the face waking him up early. He didn’t mind though, he was already drifting out of his sleep anyway. Getting dressed as quietly as he could, Harry just glanced in the mirror for a moment in the communal bathroom before heading down stairs, his wallet and wand (something he had decided to bring along with him on his trip) in his pocket in hopes of finding a place to eat, perhaps he would wander over to the Leaky Cauldron, or maybe not...

“Harry wait up!” Emily’s voice called behind him.

Harry froze in his steps, and turned to see Emily walking down the steps, sliding a long black jacket over her arm. “Good morning,” Harry said to her as she fell into step next to him and together they exited the Hostel.

“Good morning to you too; going to get something to eat?” Emily asked, curious.

“Yeah,” Harry nodded, “If I remember correctly there’s a nice little café some where around here.”

“Oh cool, some place new.” Emily chirped.

Harry smiled faintly, but he wasn’t much for a conversation. He still had just woken up, and he was still nervous about running into someone he knew. It was likely to happen eventually, Harry figured, but maybe if he just stayed clear of any ‘Wizard infested’ areas he could avoid the entire situation. Lost in his thoughts, Harry hadn’t noticed where he was going, and how faithful Emily was being in following his lead. Looking around he quickly realized that the thoughts he had had before were in vain as they were only five minutes away from the Leaky Cauldron.

His blood seemed to run cold at this thought, and his body felt numb. It had been a dumb mistake to turn the way he had, to travel the road he had been travelling. And then he saw it. The Leaky Cauldron was there, down the old abandoned Alley. To Emily it would appear to be a normal, dirty alley with nothing out of the ordinary about it. Harry almost stopped to stare at the sight when he felt Emily tugging on his sleeve.

“Is that the café you were talking about?” Emily asked, and for a moment Harry thought she was talking about the Leaky Cauldron when he saw her pointing at a small café that was almost across the street from the alley. Harry felt the hairs on the back of his neck rise.

“Yeah…” Harry mumbled, dumb-struck.

“Come on,” Emily tugged on Harry’s arm, and he found himself numbly following her. They entered the busy café unnoticed and Harry kept his eyes open for any sign of a witch or wizard or someone he knew. Taking a seat by the window, Emily chattered about how amazing London was how she could not wait to go sight-seeing.

“Hi there, I’m Suzie, is there anything I can get you two?” a tired waitress who looked to be in her early twenties stood before them, holding a note pad, and trying to force her bleach blonde hair. Her accent was thick, and for a moment Harry grinned as he watched Emily marvel at the sound.

“Just tea for me please,” Harry told, when the waitress began to look impatient.

“And you?” the waitress, Suzie, looked at Emily.

“Um… tea and honey… and plain toast?” Emily asked, glancing at the laminated menu’s that sat in front of them.

“Certainly,” Suzie said jotting it down on the pad, and then disappearing into the back. Harry glanced out of the window, his eye training on to the Leaky Cauldron that looked cold and empty. In the corner of his eye he saw something black and billowy, and spotted a black cloak.

“Harry, are you all right?” Emily asked concerned. Quickly looking at Emily, Harry tried to act normal. He thought that the cloak figure he had just seen had been or looked something like Ron, a thought he could hardly comprehend.

“Yeah, yeah, I’m fine. I just thought I saw someone I knew on the streets.” Harry admitted.

“Really, I thought you didn’t have any ‘links’ in England?” Emily smirked, and Harry realized she was teasing him.

For a moment he deliberated in his mind how he wanted to respond, until finally deciding to play on the honesty streak he was on. “Well, I mean, I guess I should come clean. See, my fiancé, she had a really big family and there were really good to me.” Harry said, skimming over certain unneeded details.

“Are you telling me you were lying when you said you didn’t have a life in England?” Emily asked, a little more serious sounding this time.

“A little,” Harry frowned, feeling ashamed now.

“I wanted to come here so long ago,” Emily said after some time. “My best friend and I just graduated from high school and had this whole plan to get lost in England. It was seems ridiculous now, but back then it seemed like the best idea on Earth.”

“How come it never happened?” Harry asked, happy for the change of subject.

“My friend got accepted to University, and any money she had went towards her tuition. So the plans got cancelled.” Emily explained.

“What about you?” Harry went on.

“What about me?”

“Did you go to University?” he asked, thinking about his cousin. He never had many thoughts for Dudley, but now he was wondering what had happened to his cousin.

“No, not me. I was never much University material. Not that I didn’t have the grades, I just didn’t have much of a plan to my life. I had always seen myself getting lost in London, really.” Emily smiled sadly. Harry felt sorry again for bringing up a bad memory for her, but when he went to say something their food arrived, and Emily was back to her usual cheery self, thanking the waitress.

Harry sipped gently on his tea, mixing some honey in before doing so. Emily nibbled on her toast, and drank deeply from her tea, and Harry had to admire how she seemed to get such enjoyment out of the smallest things. In the back of his mind he was still thinking of the man who looked like Ron. Maybe it had just been a trick of the mind? There was no way Ron would be in London. He was supposed to be… well it just wasn’t possible.

“This is perfect,” Emily said taking another long drag of her tea. Harry nodded, taking another sip of his tea. He turned back to staring out the window, looking at the Leaky Cauldron. He was waiting for the door open and out walk some one he knew. But nobody did, and Harry knew it was because it was more normal for a witch or wizard just to arrive in the Leaky Cauldron by Apparition or by the Floo Network.

“Harry?” Emily’s reproachful voice entered Harry’s head.

Harry turned to look at her bewildered. Emily frowned, and set her tea on the table top. “Something is bothering, really. I feel like I sort of messed up your plans when I asked if I could join you. You weren’t going out for breakfast, were you?”

Emily’s question took Harry by surprise and at first it took him a few seconds to process all she had said. He didn’t know if he should flat out lie to her, give her what she wanted, or just tell the truth. But what was the truth? He had wanted to get something to eat? But he had hoped to get something to eat just it was more in his past that he wanted to eat something. After a few more seconds he made up his mind, and managed to collect his thoughts so that he knew how to answer. Taking a breath, Harry leaned forward a little, and looked Emily in the eye.

“You’re right; this morning I wasn’t going to go to breakfast. In fact, I was just planning on going for a walk.” Harry lied. “See, it’s been two years since I’ve been here, in the place I came from. I just wanted to see er- what had happened to it; to the places where I once lived.” Harry finished, hoping she believed him in anyway.

However, Harry’s dismay, Emily merely frowned deeper. “Harry, don’t insult my intelligence, and lie it me.” Emily sighed. “I know it’s more than just being back in England. It’s your fiancé, she didn’t die did she? Because it feels like something much more hurtful happened, Harry, something that makes it all the harder to move on and let go.”

Emily’s words hung in the air thickly, and Harry was dumbfounded into being speechless. It surprised Harry how Emily knew such things about him just by reading his actions. She knew him better then Georgia, it seemed. He didn’t want to admit to Emily, however, that she was right because he felt horrible about keeping the whole thing from them all in the first place. But before he knew it the whole story was spilling out of him live rain from a storm cloud.

“She didn’t die, she went into Acoma. We were in a… a car crash. For a year I tried to hold on to a hope that was diminishing every day. Her family, they took me in when I finished school, were nothing but good to me. But I couldn’t stand the guilt, and it just wore me down. And I just left, I didn’t want it anymore. And I ran away, like a coward from battle.”

Harry looked away from Emily, covering his face with his hand. He couldn’t believe how fast the emotions came back, and he feared that Emily would agree with him and leave. But to his surprise, yet again, he felt the seat next to him sink, and Emily’s small hand fell on to his shoulder, forcing him to look at her, head still in hand.

“You’re not a cower Harry, you’re human.” Emily’s eyes sought Harry’s, searching for a hint of understanding. Harry felt a pang go through him as he stared in her aqua eye, and he quickly moved away from Emily, letting her hand fall.

“I think we should go back to the Hostel now.” Harry spoke quietly, and didn’t dare look at Emily.

“Oh, all right.” Emily mumbled, trying not to sound disheartened. Harry felt the seat decompress next to him as Emily stood up and at last Harry dared a look. He watched Emily as she grabbed her coat and purse. “Can we get the check?” Emily called, looking at the waitress, who nodded, looking a little put-out.

Harry took Emily’s rashness as a sign, and he quickly stood up and pulled on his jacket. As he did the waitress appeared with the check, faster then he had expected. Before harry could protest that he would pay, Emily put money down on the table, and shoed Harry out of the café. On the street Emily fell into step with lines of people, and Harry hurried to keep up with her.

Looking at his feet as he walked, a silence fell between Harry and Emily. She continued to glanced around the street they were walking around, pretending to act normal as if nothing was bothering her while Harry refused to say anything more for fear it might make it all the worse.

Finally as they turned down another street, the Leaky Cauldron long behind them that Harry decided it would probably be best to say something, and most of all to apologize. “I’m sorry,” he mumbled, glancing at Emily.

Emily looked at him, a little surprised. “You’re apologizing?”

Harry was bewildered. “Am I not allowed to apologize?”

Emily cracked a smile. “Of course you are, but I wasn’t expecting it. I know your still guarded about your past and all; I should just wait for you to tell, if you choose to. It’s my fault.” Emily confirmed.

“Oh, right.” Harry murmured, always feeling a little uncomfortable when Emily or anyone for that matter talked about him and his life so openly like they did.

“Crap,” Emily said suddenly, stopping in her tracks. “I forgot my phone on the table.”

“Do you want me to go back and get it?” Harry asked.

“No, no, wait here, I’ll be back quick.” Emily shook her hair, glancing through her bag before dashing around the street corner and back to the café. Feeling a little uncomfortable standing alone in the middle of the side walk, Harry leaned against the tall stone wall of an office building, and he leaned against it. Glancing at the few people who walked by, glancing at their faces which were all pointed down, not trusting his curious stare.

Eventually Harry grew tired of this, and glanced at his own feet, occasionally looking up to see if Emily was turning the corner with her phone in hand. But every time he did she was never there, and Harry was growing impatient. As a few more minutes passed, Harry was starting to think that maybe he should go see if everything was all right. He debated this for another minute before deciding that it was exactly what he wanted to do. Standing up straight from the wall, he went to join into the now crowded side walk and go to the café when he crashed into somebody, and his glasses went askew.

It took Harry a few seconds to calculate what had happened, and that he had just run into a woman who was a head shorter then him, and had short red hair. His glasses in hand, something he had done quickly, he fumbled with them for a few seconds, blinking rapidly. The figure he had run into had quickly backed away from him, and as he finally managed to push his glasses on his face, he quickly gasped.

“Harry…” the soft voice of Ginny Weasley escaped the older girl’s lips, and before Harry could speak her eyes rolled into the back of her head, and she began falling through the air.

A/N: Does this ending in any way make up for taking so long to update? I am truly sorry from the bottom of my heart. There are a lot of reasons why this took so long, something I don’t really feel like going into right now as I am tired (it’s only ten o’clock) and I have to get up at six tomorrow. So I hope you liked it, and I know you will all be anticipating the next chapter, which I swear, I will try to post soon. Thanks for reading!

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