The air was brisk, but Harry was glad to feel its cold slap
on his face. Behind him Hogwarts stood proudly, a gleaming jewel set in
a perfect blue sky. He sat on a stone bench and stared out across the
lake. School was over for another summer, and his sentence at the Dursleys'
would soon begin. His jaw clenched at the thought of going back to live
with his relatives, especially after what he had endured the last few
days. Harry rubbed his scar and sighed. Lately, it felt like he was carrying
Hogwarts around on his shoulders. If only Cedric....
"Cedric." He couldn't escape the pain that name evoked.
Tears filled Harry's eyes, and for a moment the world was a blur of light
and colour. The tears spilt down his face, and then he blinked, clearing
his vision. The sounds of footsteps and rustling grass had him sniffing
quickly and dragging his arm across his face.
"Please. Please, don't let it be Malfoy," begged Harry under
He looked up and was surprised to see bright red hair and freckles. It
was funny how alike all the Weasleys' features were, but somehow on Ginny
they were unique. She was usually very shy around him. He knew she and
Hermione were good friends, yet Harry often saw Ginny alone.
"Hi." Harry looked expectantly at her. Wondering what
she wanted. Hoping he didn't have red, puffy eyes.
"Hello, Harry. I hope I'm not bothering you. It is just that I saw
you sitting out here alone and I...." She stopped speaking and gazed
intently at the lake, as Harry had done. Her hand tightened on the back
of the bench. Harry was startled by the intensity of her expression. He
could feel Ginny's emotions pouring from her, though she was silent.
"I used to come out here and watch the water. It seemed so peaceful."
She looked down at Harry. "That was right after they released me
form the infirmary. You know, when you rescued me from Vol... the Basilisk?"
Her face grew red with embarrassment.
"I remember," answered Harry wearily.
"Well, anyhow, I used to come out here a lot, and wonder how I could
have been so... so stupid, as to have kept that wretched diary. Dad told
me not to trust that type of rubbish, but I was feeling sorry for myself.
I went ahead and wrote in it, never stopping to consider what might happen.
I could have gotten people killed. Hermione had to spend weeks in the
hospital wing because of me. She's my best friend, and I almost killed
Harry sat in shock as he listened to Ginny's speech. It was the most
he had ever heard her speak in his presence. Here she was pouring out
her heart to him. He wanted to comfort her. He understood her sorrow.
"It wasn't your fault Ginny. Tom Riddle's diary tricked you. That's
what Voldemort does, he uses people." He leaned forward to pick up
a rock from the lawn and throw it far away, towards the water.
"I'll never forget waking up with blood on my hands," she said
in a horrified whisper. Harry could see the tears in her eyes. He didn't
think, but reached up and placed his hand over Ginny's smaller one.
"It wasn't your fault. Dumbledore didn't think so. He wouldn't have
let you stay if he thought it was. It was Voldemort!" Ginny winced
when he practically shouted the name. "He destroys everything,"
Harry said bitterly.
Ginny looked down gravely at Harry. "It wasn't your fault either,
Harry. You said it yourself. It was him." She couldn't bring herself
to say the name, and wondered how Harry didn't choke on it when he did.
"He is the destroyer."
Harry jerked his hand away, and shoved them into his pockets as he slouched
low on the bench with his long slender legs sticking out in front of him.
He refused to meet her eyes. He chose to focus on the small yellow flower
poking out between the blades of grass. Ginny took a deep breath, and
sat down next to him. She felt warm, and smelled like something fresh
and sweet. Like the flower, maybe. Harry grimaced at his fanciful thoughts.
Ginny trembled. Harry looked furious, but she was determined to go on.
He needed to hear this from someone who understood the guilt and anguish
he was feeling. She turned slightly in her seat so she could look
right into that pale scowling face.
"Harry, it took me a long time to be able to face myself and not
feel guilty about all the destruction I caused with that awful diary.
But I had to forgive myself in order to go on. I don't know everything
that happened with Ced..." her voice faltered, "Cedric. But
I know that sharing the victory with Cedric was a noble thing to do."
"If it was so bloody noble than why did Cedric die?" he spat
"You were doing a good thing. It was Voldemort!" Ginny blinked
and looked terrified when she realized she had said that name out loud.
Harry looked shocked. Ginny decided that if saying Voldemort was what
it took to get Harry's attention, then it was worth it. "He killed
Cedric. Just like he was responsible for opening the Chamber of Secrets.
At least you did what you did for a good reason. I was just being silly."
Her face was pale. Harry could see that saying Voldemort's name frightened
"Well, you never got anyone killed," he said viciously. He
couldn't understand why she was here pestering him.
"It was a near thing Harry Potter, and you know it! What then? Would
you have tossed me into Azkaban? It was almost you I killed." She
The burst of anger directed at him surprised Harry. If things had been
different he might have laughed. She was always so blasted quiet when
he was around, like a pale little ghost. Yet hear she was roaring at him.
"I would never have blamed you," he said slowly.
"Then why are you blaming yourself?" Her face was serious now.
The anger was gone. "If you keep blaming yourself, then he wins.
The despair will drive you mad. Believe me, I know. He doesn't just destroy
lives, Harry. He kills hope, and happiness, and trust and all the good
things we have. Besides you, Cedric was one of the most decent fellows
around. I am sorry he is dead," she said with a shaky breath, "But
Cedric's parents don't blame you. If anyone has the right to hate you
it would be them. But they don't because they know it wasn't your fault."
Harry continued looked out at the lake, not meeting her eyes.
"What about Dumbledore? He'd have kicked you out immediately if
he thought you were responsible. He didn't. He practically called you
a hero," Ginny continued, hoping Harry would respond.
At this Harry snorted, "Bugger that!"
Ginny grinned at his disgusted look. She reached over, brushed aside
his shaggy black hair and gently touched his scar. The shock that went
through Harry was quite different than what he felt when Voldemort was
nearby, but equally alarming.
"Think about what I said, Harry. Please. Let go of your guilt. It's
okay to grieve, but don't give in to despair."
She got up and walked back to the school. For a long time after Ginny
left Harry sat dumbfounded by this fierce new Ginny. He heard her voice
echoing in his mind - imploring him not to give in. Automatically, he
reached up to touch his scar, much like Ginny had. When he took a deep
breath, the air felt warmer. He slid stiffly off the bench and stretched
before heading for the lake.
As he drew nearer, he could hear the water lapping gently on the shore.
It brought back memories of the Triwizard tournament. He remembered how
Cedric had struggled to free Cho. For the first time since Cedric's death
he thought of her and wondered how she was doing. His heart stumbled as
he considered that she might hate him for getting Cedric killed.
While he stood silently watching the smooth surface of the water, he
forgot his worries about Cho and thought about Ginny. She was right. The
lake did seem very peaceful - on the surface. Harry knew from experience
what could be hidden underneath. Things just weren't that simple for Harry
Potter any longer.
Harry turned away from the lake, and headed back towards Hogwarts. He
recalled what Dumbledore had said, "Remember Cedric Diggory."
He would remember Cedric, he thought. When the time came for him to choose
between what was easy and what was right, he would act not only for his
parents, but for Cedric as well. And when that time came, Voldemort
would remember Cedric Diggory too. He would see to it.