As his new girlfriend was making herself comfortable Ron Weasley secured the door to the boys loo. Satisfied they would not be disturbed he returned to his best mate who was staring at himself in the mirror. "Are you all right Harry? Is it the scar that's bothering you?"
Harry Potter took several slow deep breaths before answering. "No Ron it isn't. Not since Tom died. I'd almost think it wasn't there. Or never happened." Harry hesitated before continuing, uncertain not only of what to say but how farfetched it would sound.
"We figured out where you went. It had to be into the forest. I mean, how else could Voldemort have you? Obviously he thought he had killed you and wanted to put on a show. To demoralize us further. But he wasn't counting on Neville" Ron said when he saw Harry stop.
"No he wasn't. But I was. When I left I passed Neville, and I asked him to kill the snake. There wasn't time to say why, other than you two were also asked to. I prayed as I walked out there that one of you would succeed and my dying would have been worth it."
"Harry I don't understand. We all heard him challenge us to send you or face the entire army. What made you feel you had to go? Yes we had lost a lot of people including my Brother Fred ..."
Hearing Fred Weasley's name made Harry begin to shake. He slid down the wall onto the floor, leaning the back of his head against the cold white tile walls. Ron soon joined him, now very mad at himself for reminding Harry of those who lie dead in the Great Hall. "Fred, Colin, Remus, Tonks, Lavender ... " he recited.
"Maybe not her. They took her to St. Mungo's. Her leg was bleeding a lot. I heard someone say that as we went upstairs to see the Headmaster."
"That doesn't make me feel much better Ron. But you are right we should be glad at every one that survived." Harry was reliving their last year searching for the horcruxes, counting the times they made mistakes which prolonged their search resulting in more lives lost.
Guessing that was the case Ron tried to get Harry's mind off things. 'This won't be easy. I can only think of one thing so here goes'. "Harry can I ask your advice? It's about relationships."
A snort made Ron laugh. Soon Harry was laughing too. "So let me get this straight. We are sitting on the floor in the loo covered in blood and whatever else I was thrown in and you want to talk about relationships? What do you want to say? I thought ours was pretty good. Granted I'm not quite as pretty as Hermione but I am taller so you won't have to bend over quite as far to snog me" he attempted to say without smiling.
"Very funny Mr. Potter. I agree we are good. You are the best friend I could ever hope for. The way you two took me back after deserting you ... "
"Forgive and forget right? We all knew it was the horcrux talking not you. It preyed on your fears. I think I was affected the least because of the nightmares I used to have. You could almost say I was used to it." He did not add the other reason why, saving that for telling his two best friends at the same time when they were as far away from the Castle as possible. Despite this being his second home (the other being the Weasley's Family home called the Burrow) right now it was filled with bad memories. He could not wait to get away and talk to Ron's Sister Ginny and try to explain to her what happened. Why they had to break up, and why she could not accompany them.
"So we are good? Great!! Then onto other things. What I am talking about is girls Harry. I'm scared and I don't have a clue what to do now" Ron seriously told his best mate.
"I think we are both pretty pitiful. I mean look at us. I start seeing Cho Chang and she walks out on me on our first real date in Hogsmeade. You on the other hand had Lavender Brown following you around like a puppy. It got kind of sickening after a while. If you hadn't gotten poisoned accidentally by Romilda Vane you might still be stuck with her."
"Harry if that hadn't happened I might have insisted we leave sooner to get away from her! Please don't tell anyone else this but she was smothering me! You and I had no time together, and definitely not the three of us. And Hermione ran away as soon as she saw Lavender and I coming."
"That's because she loved you Ron. Probably for years. She kind of hinted at that when you left. It really tore her up seeing you together."
"Just like when you saw Ginny and Dean wasn't it? Harry I want to apologize for how I acted with you two. I took it too far thinking it was my job to interfere. I promised Hermione that when we got back, and this was months ago by the way, that my goal was not only to reunite you but to make sure my Brothers and my parents understood that it was none of their business either. Ginny will turn 17 in just over three months in August so she can do what she wants anyway. And the whole Family loves you, so I think it won't be an issue either way."
"Thanks Ron. I wish it would be that easy. To walk up to her and say 'Ginny I'm sorry. Will you marry me?' No I am worried. Very worried for how she will react when she sees me again. First I leave her, then she sees me, then she thinks I'm dead, then I'm alive. She has to be confused. I know I am. About everything except her. I want to marry her Ron if she'll have me."
"I think she does too Harry. For years she has wanted to. Kissing you after she caught the snitch to win the house cup was a dream come true for her. And the time before we left was pretty good after you escaped Privit Drive. But the way we left the Wedding and not being able to communicate with the Family was hard on all of us. Her especially not knowing how we were. And what all of the students went through here with Snape as Headmaster had to be the worst."
"I think he made it as good as he could under the circumstances Ron. I learned some things from his memories which I want to tell you and Hermione. And to make things right with Ginny. She deserves it."
"How much are you going to tell her? Will it include the Hallows too?" whispered Ron.
Harry thought a moment before answering. Professor Dumbledore had cautioned them against sharing that with anyone else. But that was before. Now he was dead along with many others. He reached into his mole skin pouch he carried around his neck and pulled out the Elder Wand. It felt warm in his hand and he got the urge to use it. "Even though I won this from Draco Malfoy it doesn't feel like it is mine. It feels more like a tool like a hammer, not like my wand which seems like it is a part of me. Does that make sense?"
"Absolutely. What did Olivander say? 'The wand chooses the Wizard?' Your phoenix wand certainly did from the moment you picked it up. This wand" Ron said gesturing to the wand in Harry's other hand "has had too many masters. Or owners. Maybe it has lost it's way too? It is extremely powerful. I can feel it from here. That if I had it I could do great things myself."
"You are making it sound like a horcrux. I don't think it is a weapon of evil like those were, having a part of Riddle's soul contained in them. Yes it tempts me too but I know who I am and I do not want to go battle people to prove it. Or to have them challenge me for it until I die. No it belongs to the Headmaster. He let himself be disarmed in the Astronomy Tower. The wand should have passed onto a new owner then. That was his plan but it backfired when Bellatrix, Greyback, and the others came in. Before we leave here I need to return it so it can rest with him. Too much death has it seen, almost as much as we have."
"I think you are probably right. Hermione told me the same thing earlier when you were dozing in the Headmaster's Office. Do you think McGonagall will replace Snape?"
"Probably Ron. She is the logical one, as Hermione would say. And speaking of Hermione, is she the one you were thinking of when you asked about relationships?"
"Yes. Harry I am scared. Scared that I will mess this up somehow. I love her. I think I have at least since the Yule Ball. When I left you two I had a lot of time to think. Why did we always quarrel? Because we cared about each other. So much so that our feelings were on the surface threatening to explode at any moment. Now, well now I don't know what to say. How do I tell her how I feel without messing up?"
"When Ginny and I began dating it felt a little weird too. We had known each other for five years. Once we got past the phase of afraid to say how we felt about things it was OK. You two have been close for seven years. Granted not as close as you are now but the important thing is you two know each other very well. That will help you to get through it. Be honest with each other and be there as we go through what I'm sure will be more bad times then good the next few weeks."
Ron knew Harry was referring to the funerals they would be expected to attend. Neither knew roughly 50 died defending the Castle, and countless others injured. Some like Lavender Brown might not make it. Even Neville Longbottom who was seriously burned when Voldemort attempted to set him on fire was badly injured. "Harry I can say the same thing to you about my Sister. Yes it would be nice to turn back the clock and stop this sooner, or to have Voldemort never rise to power but we can't. The time turners were all destroyed when we broke into the Ministry. And even if they weren't what might happen? Things could have been worse. More might have died, or there might have been two Dark Lords. No we need to accept what happened and know we can't change it. Fred did not want to die. None of them did. So we have to make sure his funeral is one celebrating his life, not being sad he is gone. He touched all of us and he will live on in our hearts."
"May I?" a small voice asked. Hermione had returned from her 'private loo' and you could tell she was crying. Ron and Harry moved apart so she could squeeze between them, grateful to be near both. She grasped both their hands and rested her head on Ron's shoulder.
"How long have you been standing there?" Harry inquired.
"Not very long" she answered, lying because she overheard part of what they were discussing when she did not hear them talking earlier. She caught the part from Ron saying how much he loved her and she echoed it but felt uncomfortable replying especially with how badly Harry felt about Ginny. "Harry when you were on watch Ron and I would talk. He told me how important he felt it was for you and Ginny to be together. I feel the same way. As long as you can explain what we did and why I believe it will work out." She leaned over to kiss him on the cheek before returning to rest her head on Ron.
"Thanks. I hope she gives me the chance. I heard her scream. We all did. It was horrible making her and all of you think I was dead. I'm sure you figured it out too. I had to go into the forest and find him. It was the only way. If one of you killed the snake then my hope was Kingsley, McGonagall, or a combination of you could overpower him and it would be over."
"Harry we have a thousand questions but they will have to keep. You have kept Ginny waiting long enough. Those revitalizing potions Kreacher brought us in the Headmaster's Office have helped but I for one could use a good meal" Ron said as he got up. He helped Hermione to her feet and then together they held their hands out for Harry.
"You know I don't deserve you two" he said before accepting their help.
"Yes you do. And Ginny too. And I promise you right now to treat your Sister like a Princess, just like I know you will do with mine" added Ron.
This got him a big hug and kiss from Hermione seeing his telling Harry not only he will treat her right but he acknowledges Harry will do the same with Ginny. Ron pulled Harry into their embrace not noticing him grimace when he did.
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