Two weeks had passed since Hermione had first found out about Ron's new relationship. Ron and Hermione continued to be good friends, although he wasn't around as often as he used to be, if at all. She tried to be happy that Ron had found someone else to bring him joy after all the pain of the previous year, but on the inside, Hermione was a mess of emotions which were tangled into a web so confusing that she had no idea how to unravel it. She tried her hardest not to let anything show, burying herself in a book whenever she felt tears welling behind her eyes. So far she had succeeded in fooling Ron, who was far too occupied in his own life to notice her, and she had also managed to convince Ginny that she was only stressed with her school work. Harry though was not so easily fooled.
As the class was dismissed from potions, Ron hurriedly shoved all his paraphernalia that was littering the desk into his bag and hurried off to his girlfriend. Harry and Hermione proceeded to put their belongings away in a much more orderly fashion. They left the classroom and proceeded to their dormitory.
“Umm, Hermione” Harry began timidly. Hermione looked at him, urging him to continue. “Are you alright? You just seem a little distracted lately.”
“Everything is fine Harry, really. I'm just a little stressed out with school work and all. It's N.E.W.T.S this year and I really want to do well.” Hermione gave him a reassuring smile and continued to walk a little more quickly to reduce the time for awkward questions. But Harry didn't buy a word she had said.
“Hermione, I have known you for seven years and you are not yourself. I saw your potion today. If you were as fine you say you are, your golden potion would not have had a tint of sunshine yellow in it”
That was it. The calm, cool exterior that Hermione had been holding up suddenly crumbled as she looked into Harry's brilliant green eyes. There was so much compassion in his eyes and so much truth in his words that she could not lie to him anymore. Hermione fell into Harry's arms, and a torrent of tears cascaded down her cheeks, unchecked and unrelenting. They stayed that way until Hermione's tears dried up and she could once again control her breathing.
“I'm sorry Harry, I didn't mean to fall apart like that”
“Hermione, It's why I'm here. Fall apart any time you need. We all have our moments when we need to get all of the emotions out. Come on, lets go down to the lake.”
Harry took a gentle hold of Hermione's arm and led her down to the lake where they sat down under a shady tree. A slight breeze could be seen playing with the water, making ripples dance along the lakes glistening surface. Hermione took a deep breath, bringing the brisk autumn air into her lungs. She turned to Harry and was met once again by those green eyes, full of so much care and worry.
“I'm just confused right now Harry, I don't know who I am anymore or where I'm going. I don't know how I feel about just about everything.”
“Does this have anything to do with Ron having a new girlfriend?”
“No...yes....maybe, I don't know” Hermione sighed. She was exhausted. For the last 2 weeks her thoughts had been swirling around in her mind. Now she knew, it was time to open up to someone.
“The war changed everything I knew. So many people I came to love are now gone and sometimes I just can't deal with the pain. All the dreams I had for the future now seem futile because everything involved all the people that I've lost, and it's not just those who died either. People have changed because of the war, their perspectives on life have all been altered by what we had to go through. We are kids Harry, we are just kids and we have been made to live an adults life, see things we should never ever had have to see. I want to be able to block out all the horrors I saw, but I can't. They are a part of me now, embedded in my very soul, and they will never leave me. So the only thing I can do is embrace these memories, and hope that they will in some strange and misguided way, help me to unlock my future and protect the next generation from the anguish that we have had to endure.”
Hermione took a deep breath. All of sudden the weight of the world seemed to have lifted. Instead of a thousand thoughts flying through her brain, she had concisely summed up all her feelings into one paragraph, albeit one long paragraph, but by just putting a voice to her emotions, the day seemed brighter.
Harry on the other hand was slightly stunned. “Wow Hermione, I cannot even comprehend the depth of your thinking right now. But, its seems to me that you have everything sorted, remember what has happened and use those memories to stop it happening again. Of course, you used a few larger words than I just did.”
Hermione laughed, and Harry smiled at her. “You know,” he said, “I believe that is the first time I have heard you laugh in quite a while.” Harry was right Hermione thought, I haven't laughed in a long time, but it felt good. She felt so much lighter than she had all term.
“So, er”, Harry began slightly nervously. “This doesn't have anything to do with Ron then?”
Hermione frowned and looked down at her hands which had began entwining themselves together at the sound of Ron's name. She thought for a moment, gathering all her thoughts as tears began to well behind her eyes. “Ron and I aren't meant to be together, we are better off as friends. While I still love Ron, I'm not in love with Ron any more, we are different now to how we were before. But what I do miss is being with Ron. I miss having that someone there to support me when I need some support, someone to listen to me when I needed to vent, someones shoulder to cry on when I needed to cry, and someone to hold me and make me feel secure.”
“Hermione, I'm here for you,” Harry said, wiping a new tear drop from her eye before it could further stain her already tear streaked face. “I've always been her for you. Whenever you need support, or whenever you need to talk you can always come to me. My shoulder will always be open for you and you can be held as often as you need. You can always come to me, I thought you knew that.”
“I did, I do, I just didn't want to appear weak in front of you when you seem to be so in control all the time.'
Harry scoffed, “Me, in control. Not a day goes by when I don't feel tears welling up inside me, when I don't see the faces of all of those who died for me. I am a complete mess at times, I just try my hardest to hide it and live each day as it comes.” Harry looked up at the light clouds, floating across the sky and thought back to those miserable days he had to endure straight after the defeat of Voldemort. All Harry had wanted to do was rest and to get away from all that had defined his life since the day he was marked with his lightening bolt scar. But he was unable to avoid the limelight, everyone wanted to know what happened, everyone wanted to see him and shake his hand. But he had friends to bury, and at the first opportunity he found, Harry escaped to the Burrow where he could grieve in peace.
For a time, the Burrow was comforting, but after a week, Harry realised that all he really wanted was to be alone, and away form the reminders of the war. He loved the Weasley's but they had their own grief; so Harry decided to leave. He didn't know where the Dursley's were, not that he wanted to see them anyway, but with Charlie staying with his parents Harry asked and was given permission to stay at Shell Cottage. Most of the time Harry simply watched the sea and enjoyed the peace and quiet. It was in those weeks he spent in solitude, watching the waves lap the shore, that he healed his wounded soul and began to pave his future. He would return to Hogwarts, he would tell the world his story, and he would most of all just be an ordinary teenager. And so with his thoughts in order, Harry returned to the Burrow to spend the rest of the holidays.
Harry returned his attention to Hermione, who was sitting watching him, her arms wrapped around her legs. “It hasn't been easy, but the time I spent by myself really helped me to put to rest a lot of the anger I felt and to start moving forward. The sadness and pain is still there, but the anger has dissipated. Things are still hard but I try to stay positive, this year can hardly be worse than last year, that has got to be a good thing. Come on Hermione, cheer up, there is plenty of life to live yet.”
“So what are you up for then, a game of tag, a trip to the library, or how about we go and see Hagrid” Hermione asked, slightly more cheerfully.
Harry smiled with a twinkle in his eye that signaled to Hermione that something mischievous was on his mind. “Follow me, I have the perfect way to get your mind off...well everything. Lets go.”
With some trepidation, Hermione followed Harry as he led her to some unknown place for an unknown adventure.
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