The Sugar Quill
Author: shanfawn16  Story: The Beginning  Chapter: The Beginning
The distribution of this story is for personal use only. Any other form of distribution is prohibited without the consent of the author.

The Beginning

Disclaimer: If only it were mine. Alas, it is not.

A/N: This is the third and final installment of my series of stories beginning with The Long Road Ahead, and continuing with The Ones Left Behind. Many thanks to all who read and reviewed those stories. Keep it up!

Harry watched from the corner of the room as Ron and Hermione said a quiet goodbye to Mr. and Mrs. Weasley. He tried to stay back in the shadows while Ron was clutched in a tight embrace by his mother. As much as Ron was protesting, Harry knew that he needed this. Once again he felt guilty that his friends were giving up so much, just to follow him on this crazy quest. But most of all, he felt saddest about the absence of one person. Even after all the discussions, arguments and flat-out fights that he and Ginny had over this subject, a part of him ached at the thought of leaving her behind. But he knew it was for her own good. Just thinking about something happening to Ginny caused his heart to ache; he just couldn’t risk having her come along to search for the Horcruxes. He wished he could say goodbye to her, though. With a heavy sigh, he joined his friends, gladly embraced the people who had given him so much, and then quietly left the Burrow as the sun began to rise.

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Ginny sat in the window of her bedroom, fighting the tears that kept threatening to fall. She berated herself for being weak. She wanted to be with him; she needed to go with all of them. They needed her help, but none of them would admit it. How could she just sit here when she knew that three of the people she loved most in the world were about to go on this dangerous journey on their own? She hated the thought of him leaving, and she felt cheated – cheated out of being with him. She was petrified that once he left, she might never see him again. She understood that he was trying to protect her, and she did love him for it. He just didn’t understand that everyone was in danger now, not just the people close to him. She wanted to be with him where they could help keep each other safe. For whatever reason, they all refused to see her abilities and how she could help them. It was if none of them respected her enough to see that they needed her. But of course, once Mum found out what they were up to, she knew there was no way she’d be able to work her way into the search. She loved him, and she knew that he loved her. But she couldn’t face seeing him leave. She pressed the t-shirt that she nicked from his trunk against her face, taking solace from it. Looking down, she realized that it was wet from her tears.

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Ron sat on the curb, watching Harry as he wandered around Godric’s Hollow. His best friend looked different to him now. He didn’t look like that lost little boy whom he had met on the Hogwarts Express all those years ago. There was a new light in his eyes – a determination that had cemented itself in his expression ever since Dumbledore’s death. As he watched Harry, his thoughts moved to his family, and he fought back a twinge of sadness at having to leave so quietly. Only his parents and Ginny knew what was going on – it was safer that way, and his parents agreed to keep the real reason for their leaving a secret. He let his mind wander back to his childhood, to his brothers and to his sister; to the laughs and squabbles and diseases they had shared. But those days were gone, and this was what mattered now. Finding the Horcruxes and helping Harry defeat Voldemort was what they had to do. He would find strength in his happy memories. He would stand beside Harry and Hermione and face whatever may come, for his family and everyone he loved. For all of their futures.

*********************************************************

Hermione sat back and rubbed wearily at her eyes. For the millionth time, she wondered why she had allowed Ron and Harry to convince her not to return to Hogwarts. For the millionth and first time, she wished she had access to the Hogwarts library. Regardless of the hardship, she knew that they were doing the right thing. As she rested for a moment, she thought about her “boys”. Harry had become so driven since they left the Burrow. Seeing his parents’ graves had given him more determination than she thought possible. For months now, as they searched, researched, and traveled, Hermione tried to remain the voice of reason for them. Harry continued to carry the weight of the world on his shoulders, and she knew that if they didn’t find this last Horcrux soon, that he might not be able to continue shouldering that burden. He hadn’t been sleeping well, and she knew that he barely ate. His eyes were haunted with the knowledge of all that they had done already, and of what was coming. And, although he’d never admit it, she knew that he missed Ginny. Hermione knew that the only thing keeping him going was the thought of finishing this and going back to her. She’d seen him, late at night, staring at the small photo of Ginny that he kept with him. Ron didn’t know about it, and she never let either of them know that she’d seen. She occasionally felt a twinge of guilt at not sharing this information with Ron, but she knew it would only make him uncomfortable. She smiled at the thought of her boyfriend. Being on this journey was the catalyst that finally brought them together. She was so grateful to have his love; it kept her strong through all the trials they had endured. He was so courageous, even though he didn’t realize it. He was the heart and the strength of the group. She was the brains, she knew. And Harry… well, he was the Champion, wasn’t he? Taking a deep breath, Hermione refocused her efforts on the old, dusty tome in front of her. Even after they found and destroyed this last Horcrux, she knew it was not the end. The real battle was yet to begin.

A/N: Well, that’s it, folks. I hope you enjoyed it. Please review… it’ll make me smile! Thanks as always to Thrennish, without whom this story would never have been.
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