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She was running. She didn't know where she was running or why she was running - that's the joys of childhood. When you were younger, you had no reason to run, no reason to rush or panic, you could go at your own pace. That pace just happened to be fast, happened to be rushed and all over the place. She watched as she grew up, watched as she became the worst thing possible - an adult. Nobody told her how hard it would be, nobody warned her about the pain and suffering she would experience, but a 10-year-old Hermione didn't need that. She would find out on her own, find her own two feet eventually. She watched her carefree self, the child who didn't know what lay ahead, no crossroads, no decisions. The days of laughing at everything were long gone, replaced with days of trying to live after the war.

The wind was howling and the castle was letting it in. Hermione was sat in the darkened Common Room looking into the crackling fire. She didn't know what she was looking for in there, but no words of wisdom had hit her as of yet. She was remembering her childhood, her simple, normal childhood. It ended as soon as she entered the castle, she was no longer that girl anymore, she didn't even get the chance to say goodbye to her. "You don't have to make a decision yet. I just think it would be...beneficial for you and Harry to talk." Aengus whispered from beside her. "Maybe you should go back to the Weasley's. Go back and talk to him."

"He won't want to see me. He said just as much before I came here."

"Follow me," He commanded. She looked hesitant but obliged all the same. "If you're not going to take yourself back to the Weasley's, I will," He said as soon as they had reached the border of Hogwarts' grounds. "You can't throw this all away because of something that happened before it even began."

Hermione stopped, making sure she was still in Hogwarts territory, "so you want Harry and me to stay together?"

"Of course. I want to see you both happy. That's what friends want." He said, trying to get Hermione to leave Hogwarts.

"I don't get it. You have been acting strangely around me lately, ever since I told you what Aoife said to me. I thought you would be the one to talk me out of talking to Harry."

"What are you talking about?" He said, stepping closer. The howling of the wind obscuring his hearing.

"You. You've been avoiding me, not looking at me in the face."


"It just doesn't seem like a way you would treat a friend." Hermione frowned, "is there something you're not telling me?"

Aengus pulled Hermione over the threshold and held hold of her arm, "I do it out of respect for Harry." He growled. "Take me there," he said, Hermione was reluctant but did it all the same.

They arrived outside the Weasley's home, Hermione's head was in too much of a spin to question Aengus straight away. It wasn't as windy here as at Hogwarts but it was pitch black, the stars and moon the only source of light. "Hermione? You're back. Where have you been?" Ron called from somewhere.

"Hogwarts. Where's Harry?" She asked.

"He's not back yet. Ginny said she spoke to him but hasn't seen him since. Is someone with you?"

"Yeah, she wouldn't come here herself." Aengus called, he sounded angry. He ran over to where he suspected Ron to be and lowered his voice, "if you dare hurt my sister, you won't know what hit you."

Ron backed off, "I see Hermione told you what happened, it was ages ago. I would never do anything to upset Aoife, you have my word."

"We'll see about that," he whispered. "Where is Ginny?" He asked, speaking at a normal volume.

"In her room. Third floor, middle door." Ron added for Aengus' benefit as he ran off into the house.

"How could this happen, Ron?" Hermione mumbled as she stepped towards him. "Everything was going well, everyone was moving on."

"I know, but it had to come out eventually. At least now it's not a secret." He smiled weakly, opening his arms to her. She fell into his manly frame, appreciating the heat.

"How's Aoife?" She croaked.

"She's sleeping. She was just upset that I tried to hide it from her. She knows that neither of us would hurt her like that."

"So she doesn't mind us being friends?" Hermione's voiced housed worry.

"Not at all. I can't say the same about Harry, though." Hermione's heart sank, she didn't want to have to say goodbye to either of her boys. "He'll get over it. He has to."

"You don't sound so convinced," Hermione said, leaving the warmth of his hug.

"No, I am. He will." Ron nodded, "I know he will."

"Hopefully. Will you help me find him?" She asked, noticing Ron stifling a yawn.

"Sure. Ginny said he was on top of the hill. It's not far away. Come on." He said, marching up the path.

And sure enough, Harry was sitting looking down at the world. Hermione and Ron walked from behind him and sat down either side of him. "Harry," Hermione began.

"Don't. I don't want to hear it." He said quietly.

"Just hear her out, Harry," Ron ordered before standing up and walking back home.

"I was so close to throwing all of this away. I thought that I would never be able to trust you with Ron again. Then Ginny spoke to me. She told me to think about what I was going to throw away. I don't want to be jealous, I don't want you to control you. That's not who I want to be. Just tell me one thing, did you go to Aengus?" Harry asked, still looking over the hill.

"You know I did," Hermione whispered, "he's the only person who truly listens to me. I feel like, apart from you, he's the one person who is there for me. Harry, I don't want to lose you but if I have to spend the rest of my life feeling guilty about something that happened before we got together, I can't see another way."

"Do you know what? I forgave Ron, in my mind. Which got me wondering why I was acting like this." He turned to look at Hermione, who was pale except for the redness of her eyes. "Then I realised, it's because I don't like thinking of you with anyone else, I want you to be mine and mine only. I know I shouldn't be like that, but-"

"You don't want to lose me?" Hermione finished, relief spreading through her body. "I'm sorry I didn't tell you, I won't keep anything from you again," She promised.

They sat in silence for some time, looking up at the sky. "Sometimes I wish I wasn't a wizard, I wish I was normal and had a normal future ahead." Harry croaked, breaking the silence.

"It does seem like we've experienced everything the Wizarding world has to offer." Hermione agreed, "but you don't want to stop. It's a connection you have with your parents." She whispered.

"I know, it just feels like the adventure is over."

She looked at him, with a glisten in her eyes and a small smile on her face, "if you truly think that, you're not Harry Potter anymore. The Hogwarts adventure is coming to an end but, we've got so much more to look forward to."

"Like what?" He asked, smirking.

"Well..." she said as she placed his hand on her stomach.

He looked from her to her stomach with his mouth wide open. "Reall-" He began to say.

She couldn't hold it in anymore, she burst out laughing, "no, not really." She said in between giggles.

He snatched his hand away, "that was mean." He smiled, "I was really excited then."

"You were? Oh, I'm sorry." She tried not to laugh.

"It's not funny. I was planning names and everything." He joked. "I'm sorry for overreacting."

"It's okay. I've never seen a jealous Harry before now." She smiled. "It doesn't suit you," she smirked. "So we're okay?"

"Never better," Harry said, smiling.


"Only a few days til Christmas. What do you say we go to Diagon Alley to pick up a few more bits and bobs?" Mrs Weasley said at breakfast the next morning.

"Sounds like a fabulous idea, Molly. I have the day off tomorrow, but I could meet you lot there later today." Mr Weasley suggested.

"Yes, that will give me time to buy your presents." She twinkled, "where are Harry and Hermione?"

"Haven't seen them today. Are they even talking?" Aoife asked Ron.

"I think so. I left them alone last night." Ron said.

"Why wouldn't they be talking?" Mrs Weasley asked.

"Don't worry, mum." Ron insisted.

Harry and Hermione had decided they wanted some space away from everyone so they apparated to Hermione's parents house. "Harry, do you mind if we go to Alfie Tinge's grave today?" Hermione asked as she sat with her back to him on her bed.


"The Auror who saved you," She said, turning to face him.

"Oh," He replied sadly. "Do you know where it is?"

"Yes. Lelia sent me a letter after I wrote to her to ask." She informed.

"Of course." Harry smiled weakly.

"You don't have to feel guilty, Harry. He was doing his job."

"He died and I'm alive, how can I not feel guilty?"

"You can't see it like that. Have you spoken to Edgar about it?" Hermione asked. Harry busied himself by making the bed, avoiding her gaze. "Harry, don't be like this. Go and see Edgar, it makes you feel better and you know it." She huffed before walking out of the room.

Harry wasn't sure what he had done, she never usually walked away from a conversation. Ever since the reveal that Ron and Hermione had kissed in the Chamber of Secrets, everything had felt different, almost blurry. He wasn't even sure why, they had all sorted it out and moved on, but it always lingered in the background, waiting to explode.

Harry had hoped that this year would be chaos free and safe. It was just that - there was no threat of Voldemort hanging over them, but it wasn't like Harry had expected. Everywhere he went, people would look and whisper to those around them but never come over to see him or talk to him. He wasn't expecting to be a celebrity and he certainly didn't want to be unable to go anywhere, but he had thought people would come and talk to him. Like before, random witches and wizards would want to shake his hand, but ever since Voldemort had actually gone, no one had seemed to want to go near him, it almost felt like there was an invisible barrier that stopped people.

Harry wondered downstairs in the search for Hermione. She was in the kitchen making a cup of tea. "I'm sorry, Hermione. I will go and talk to Edgar about it."

"I know you will," She replied, keeping her back to him.

"What's wrong?"

"Nothings wrong, Harry. What do you want for breakfast?" She asked, turning around to look at him. Her eyes were sad, they were lost and lonely, but she tried to hide it. She did a good job in the past, Harry wasn't as aware of her eyes being the secret of how she was truly feeling for some time, but he had been let in on the secret.

"Tell me," He whispered, knowing that she would understand.

"Actually, do you mind making your own breakfast? I just remembered I need to do something." Hermione said, quickly.

"No, I don't want anything. I have something to do too."

"Okay," She replied, emptily. "I'll see you later then."

"We'll go and see Alfie then," He promised. Hermione nodded before walking out of the house.


"What are you doing here? I thought you and Harry and sorted things out?" Ron asked when Hermione appeared in his room.

"Can I talk to you?" She tried her best not to cry, but Ron knew her just as well as Harry did.

"Yeah, let's go to the woods," He suggested. So they walked in silence deep into the wood. When they came across a little stream, Hermione decided that this was the spot. Ron sat beside her and didn't speak, knowing that Hermione was just composing herself.

"When I was little, I couldn't wait to grow up, well that's what I thought. I saw it as my life truly beginning but now we're here, standing on the edge of child and adulthood, I miss it already. I can't face the world through adult eyes, it's scary out there."

Ron nodded, plucking the grass like he always did when he was sitting outside, "it can't be as scary as what we faced last year. I know this isn't fair to say, but I feel like as soon as I stepped on the train on our first year, we weren't children anymore. We had to grow up quickly, quicker than most. But life does continue after Hogwarts. You have an amazing future ahead of you, you've seen much worse through child's eyes, Hermione. You've made it through the hardest part, now it's time to enjoy it."

"I want Hogwarts to happen all over again, without Voldemort or the Triwizard Tournament. We've seen so much death, Ron. We've seen the death of too many children and parents. I've been giving Harry a hard time for keeping all those faces in his head, but I'm doing the same thing. I don't want any of this, I want to be free, but we never will be. He will always be there, a prominent feature in our lives."

"He makes us who we are. Hermione, I'm not telling you to forget about everything, I know that is impossible for you to do, for any of us to do, but we won. He's gone and we're still here." He reached out and squeezed her hand before realising that Aoife was walking towards them.

"Everything alright, Hermione?" Aoife asked as she hovered next to them.

"I'm not talking about Voldemort, I'm talking about Harry. He is what reminds me of everything." She whispered. It was barely audible but both Aoife and Ron heard it as clear as day.

"What are you saying?" Aoife said, crouching down to be closer to her.

"Every time I look at him, I think about it all over again," She repeated. Aoife and Ron quickly glanced at each other, not really understanding where Hermione was going with this one. "When I look at him, I see the person who took my childhood away, the person who made me face death one too many times, the person who I risked my life to stop. I know it's not Harry's fault, but I can't look past it anymore." She stated coldly.

"You don't mean...?" Aoife started.

"I don't know what I mean anymore," Hermione confirmed, looking at her. "I don't know why I'm feeling like this and I don't know what I'm going to do."

"Ron, can you give us a minute?" Aoife asked, her eyes pleading with him. He looked torn, not wanting to miss out on what they would talk about, but he came to the conclusion that Aoife would tell him later. "I haven't known you long, Hermione and I haven't known you apart from Harry, but that doesn't mean I can't see true love when I see it. You're so lucky that your best friend is also the person you're meant to be with. You already know everything there is to know about him. Aengus told you about Calum, right? That's what you face out there, without Harry. You are so much safer with him." She said, they both sat in silence before Aoife added something else, something Hermione knew was coming, "Aengus isn't the solution, Hermione. You know that." She turned to look at him, "he just reminds you of Harry, that's all. Harry and you have been through so much, don't throw it away for him." Hermione nodded slightly, she knew what Aoife was saying was true, emotions were high and that's the reason she wanted to run from it all. "You might just need some time apart, where is he now?"

"He said he had to do something," Hermione replied, whipping the tears from her cheeks.

"Well stay here for a while and you'll realise what you're missing out on." She smiled

"I'm sorry about what Calum put you through, if you ever want to talk about it, I'm here." Hermione smiled weakly, wanting the focus to be off of her.

"Thanks, I might just take you up on that offer one day." She nodded, Hermione looked at Aoife and wondered if she was as scarred as her brother. "Aengus showed me what they did to him," She whispered.

"He took the most of it, he got in their way of me. If he hadn't, I don't know what would have happened. He didn't come home for days, and when he did he locked himself in his room, waiting for the cuts and bruises to heal."

"But some cuts and bruises won't heal," Hermione whispered, knowing where Aoife was coming from.

"Some can't heal. He's always looked out for me, he looks out for everyone but never wants someone there for him. Calum is still out there and Aengus is carrying him around with him. He and Harry are very similar. Maybe it would be good for them to sit down and talk to one another." Aoife suggested.

"I can't see that happening anytime soon."


"Harry? What are you doing here?" Aengus asked as he walked into the Great Hall.

"I think we need to talk about things," He replied simply, looking around the room as he spoke, "whenever you're ready." He smiled.

Aengus looked down at his full plate of food but knew he wouldn't be able to eat it with Harry standing over him as he did so. "Where do you want to go? The Common Room?"

"No, I want to take you somewhere else," He said mysteriously, turning around and walking out of the castle, knowing Aengus was not far behind. He walked towards Hogsmeade and suddenly stopped dead, without any hint of a warning.

"Hey, what did you stop for?" Aengus groaned after bouncing off of him.

"Sorry," he mumbled, grabbing his arm and twisting on the spot.

"Harry, are you kidnapping me?" He joked as the arrived at their destination. It was a cold but bright December morning. They were the only two people in the village, where the other people were was a mystery. Harry ignored Aengus' joke and walked towards a churchyard, he walked with a purpose, he knew exactly where he was going. Again, Aengus followed him, taking in his surroundings as he did so. When he saw where Harry had taken him, he was even more confused, "why have you taken me here?"

Harry kept his gaze on Aengus, not looking at the two stones beneath them, "this is what's left of my family. Two, fading stones and bits of wood that are probably rotting away. I came here for the first time last year, around this time, with Hermione. That's a moment I've not shared with anyone except her and do you know why?" Aengus shook his head, "because she is my family now. She's all I have, she's the only chance at happiness I have."

"Harry, mate, I don't want to get in between you and Hermione. I promise."

"I know you don't, I brought you here to show you that we've both lost loved ones. Hermione and you are friends and I think we should be too. I brought you here to show that I have nothing so I could really do with your friendship. You don't have to avoid me, you don't have to worry that I think you're out to get Hermione, I trust both of you."

Aengus looked from Harry to his parent's gravestones, "there is something you should know about me before you trust me. When you were...ill, Hermione and I became closer and I have to admit, feelings for her did develop but I'm not like that, I would never go there with her and more importantly, she wouldn't do that to you."

"I know, she told me everything and I still trust you, Aengus." Harry smiled.

"Why are you being so nice to me? You hardly know me?"

"Everyone needs someone to talk to," He said, kneeling down at his parent's gravesides. "What was your mum like?" He asked, staring at his mum's name.

"She was amazing. She always knew everything and she always knew how to fix things. She was beautiful and talented and I miss her every day but we don't need to talk about her." He kicked a stone that was on the path.

"You don't have to hide it, I know how it feels." He looked up at Aengus. "Talk to Aoife about her, she wants you to."

"Why did you really take me here?" Aengus asked as Harry stood up.

"To prove you're not the only one who feels alone."


Harry and Hermione arrived back to the Granger's house in quick succession. Only a second after Harry appeared in the kitchen, Hermione did too. "Ah, good, you're back." Harry cheered when he saw her.

"Hi." She smiled, not expecting this welcome.

"I had a good chat with Aengus today," Harry said as he made a cup of tea for Hermione.

"You did? Where?"

"Godric's Hollow. I thought that after all you've told me about him, I should try to help him."

Hermione repeated herself, "you did? Why?"

"Everyone needs someone to talk to. I thought that if I took him to my parent's, he would see that there are people out there who want to help him and understand how he feels."

She looked at him in amazement, "Aoife said he won't talk to anyone about anything."

"I guess he needed someone to give him a push in the right direction. He didn't talk much but he did mention their mum."

"Yeah? That's great, maybe he'll open up more now." She smiled as she took the cup of tea off of Harry.

"What have you done today?" He asked her.

"I went to see Ron and Aoife. I spoke to Aoife about some things."

"Sorted everything out?" He looked at her in a way which made it seem like he knew exactly what they were talking about.

"Yeah, she made me see I was overreacting."

"Doesn't sound like you." Harry joked. Hermione was amazed that he didn't want to pry further, but she was grateful with his understanding. "Do you still want to visit Alfie's grave today?" He asked delicately.

"Yes. I think we should pay our respects. Place some flowers there or something."

"That's a lovely idea." Harry smiled, "when you're ready, we'll get going."

Snow had begun to settle by the time Harry and Hermione arrived at the graveyard. It crunched, giving in to their weight, beneath their feet as they walked silently through all the other fading graves looking for the one they knew briefly. Hermione hadn't said anything since the arrived in the quaint village, her breathing indicating she was trying her hardest to not cry. He took her hand in the same way that she had taken his so many times since the end of the war, it was a familiar feeling to both of them by now but, nonetheless, it didn't have any less of an effect. They reached the end of the graveyard, where the most recent stone slabs rested, like the teeth of the church. In the corner, sitting underneath a beech tree, Alfie's name shone in the winter sun. They silently walked over to him and bent down to get a better view: 'Alfie Tinge: son, brother, friend and husband. Defending to the grave, gone but never forgotten.' "Defending to the grave." Hermione breathed, eyes shining.

Harry draped his arm around her knowing nothing would make her feel better but also wanting to say something to try, "he's our hero." He whispered, a twinge of guilt spreading through him like fire. She looked up and him and appreciated him more than ever before.

"He was just doing his job, noble right up until his last breath." A timid voice came from behind them. They both looked up and saw a tired looking woman. "Sorry to disturb you, I am Alfie's wife and I've been wanting to meet you ever since I heard. You're Harry Potter, saviour of the Wizarding World?"

He stood up and smiled pathetically, "I'm Harry, yes."

"Nice to finally meet you. I'm Jen." She put out her hand, waiting for Harry to shake it. "I never believed what he said, I thought he was overreacting when he spoke about Voldemort and what lay ahead, I would ask him to talk about something else, anything else." She sighed, "He spoke very highly of you, Harry. He once said that it was his dream to repay you for what you did for everyone, I suppose he finally did that." She laughed slightly, her eyes telling a different story.

"You must know, I'm not like everyone paints me out to be. I didn't deserve your husband's gratitude, he didn't deserve to die for me and I am so sorry he happened to be assigned to rescuing me." He croaked.

"That is what his job was. I accepted he was in danger every time he went to work. I don't blame you, darling." She said, stroking his arm for comfort.

"Dar-darl-." He stuttered before walking away from her.

She looked at him shocked, wondering what on earth she had said to have caused that sort of reaction, "what did I do?" She asked, turning to Hermione who had finally stood up.

"Just some bad experiences," She said, "I'm so sorry, Jen, but I have to go and make sure he's alright. It was nice to meet you and I'm sorry for your loss." She managed to get out before running off after Harry.

"Harry! Please, stop and talk to me." She called out to him. He ignored her and walked into the open church. She looked up at the grand building before following Harry. He had sat down in one of the pews at the back of the church. "It's okay, Harry. Julie isn't coming back, she can't harm you where she is now."

"This isn't what you deserve," He whispered.

"What don't I deserve?" She asked quietly.

"You don't deserve any of this. You shouldn't have to keep running after me to make sure I'm okay. You shouldn't have to tiptoe around me, I just don't think I will ever get better, I don't think I will ever be able to get over it."

He was right, he was never going to get over it completely, "Harry," she began, softly, "I know you know why I went to Ron's today, I know you know that I was struggling with you, but Aoife snapped me out of it. Maybe I shouldn't have to keep running after you but I'm never going to stop. It will get easier, Harry, I promise and I will by your side for all of it. I'm not going anywhere." She smiled, placing her head on his shoulder.


"I'm sorry to disturb you, but I know you are just the person I need. I want to get out of here and bring Potter and his followers down. You are Rodolphus Lestrange, aren't you, darlin'?"

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