Scars of the Heart
Harry found Ron where he expected.
“Have a firewhiskey,” the other man said,
indicating the bottle and the glass sitting on the coffee table. No greeting,
no questions, not tonight.
Without a word or a noise, without even
turning on the lights in the flat, Harry perched himself on the edge of the
armchair opposite his friend, and poured himself a glass of firewhiskey. The
crystal rim of the tumbler chimed clearly against the lip of the bottle in the
quiet, breaking the irregular background hum of traffic running in the street
outside the window. Liquid amber gurgled as it half-filled the tumbler, and
Harry set the bottle back down and took up his glass.
Ron, he suspected, had already gotten a
head start on the drinking.
No surprises there.
He sipped at the fiery liquid, feeling it
burn his throat as it went down. A small pain compared to the fierce
contraction of his heart as he looked up at the picture that sat squarely over
Three people looked out of the photo, their
young, vivid faces alight with playful laughter. Two young wizards had their
arms around an equally young witch, sandwiching her in an exuberant post-match
hug. The girl between them laughed and pushed at first one then the other, trying
to escape them. Sometimes she did, just for a little while, before the other
two would drag her, squealing, back into the picture.
Behind them, the crowds milled, smiling
tolerantly at the trio’s antics.
As Harry watched, the young woman looped
one arm up and over the shoulders of the two boys, and sighed, her delicate
features settling into an expression of indulgent affection as she leaned her
head against the shoulder of the taller one.
The seventeen year-old Ron Weasley looked
startled, then gratified. Beside him, the seventeen year-old Harry glanced at
them both, amused by both gesture and response.
And seventeen year-old Hermione Granger
grinned out of the portrait, unaware of the glance her two closest friends
passed over her head. Unaware that this was the last picture anyone would have
of her, the last memory that would define her in the hearts of the two young
men who’d been there with her since their first year at Hogwarts.
A week later, she was missing, presumed
dead. There were no leads, no proof, no traces of how she’d been taken, and
nothing more than the suspicion of who or why they’d taken her. A month after
that, the two young wizards in the photograph took on the Dark Lord with
nothing more than determination, their wands, and a spell she’d crafted
for that very purpose.
Voldemort was destroyed and the wizarding
world heaved a sigh of relief and got on with their lives.
The two young men were hailed as heroes.
The young woman was mostly forgotten.
They’d learned to live as if she’d never
existed. It was easier, less painful than acknowledging that something in them
still expected her to turn up one day at the door with a pile of books in her
backpack and an answer to the latest problem they were facing.
But they never forgot.
And especially not on the 19th
Their friends and family knew not to try to
contact them tonight, short of anything but Voldemort’s resurrection. Last
year, Ron had snapped at his father, “Dad, I don’t bloody care if the Death
Eaters are tap-dancing on the roof of the ministry to Celestina Warbeck – this
night is the one night of the year that I do not want to be disturbed!”
Mr Weasley had opened his mouth as if to remonstrate with his son, and then bit
back whatever he’d been going to say.
One night of the year was a pittance
compared to what should have been hers. She should have had a long and
celebrated life as one of the most brilliant young witches of the early
twenty-first century. Instead, she’d vanished without a trace.
Harry felt the injustice of it like a
weight against his chest, pushing him down, down, down, like a millstone. He’d
tried to drive her and Ron away in their sixth year, tried to protect them from
what he knew would happen to one or the other or both of them. If he’d only
been able to thrust them away from him, away from the danger in which his life
had always been lived, then maybe she wouldn’t be gone today...
Don’t you think you’ve got a bit of a...saving people
The words hadn’t been funny then, and they
weren’t funny now. He hadn’t been able to save Sirius; instead, he’d gotten
Sirius killed. He hadn’t been able to save Hermione either, although it wasn’t
what he’d done that had made her a target, it was what he hadn’t
been able to do; turn his back on her and Ron to the point where they were safe
Yeah, Harry had a ‘saving people thing’.
But, Merlin, he wished Hermione were around
to tell him that.
She’d have walked into the room, taken one
look at the two men getting themselves slowly and silently drunk, and given
them the shrillest tongue-lashing of their lives. And they’d have listened to
her rant with smiles growing on their faces before they pounced her for old
time’s sake, while she shrieked and squealed and futilely attempted to fight
Over in his chair, Ron drained the rest of
the firewhiskey as though it were water and leaned over to pour another. Harry
drank the contents of his own glass and handed it over to be refilled, feeling
the alcohol burn down to his stomach and knowing he would be inured to its fire
within a few hours.
It didn’t matter. They’d have headaches
tomorrow, but the headache was far easier to live with than the heartache.
Personally, Harry was surprised they didn’t drink like this more often.
Ron lifted his glass to the portrait in
toast. “To the smartest witch ever born,” he said, his voice clear and proud.
“And to one of the best friends anyone
could ask for,” Harry answered. His own voice was quieter, less passionate, but
then his own feelings for Hermione had never approached Ron’s fervency.
For Harry, there was no guilty conscience,
nothing left unsaid. Grief, yes; but no regrets at things undone. Harry didn’t
have that burden on him; he just missed his friend.
Merlin, he missed her.
Happy Birthday, Hermione.
AUTHOR’S NOTE: Am I going to leave it here?
I don’t know. I have a plot and a plan for the ‘rest of the story’ but I’m
debating over whether or not to actually write it.