The Sugar Quill
Author: Aubade89  Story: Nineteen Seconds Later  Chapter: Default
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Nineteen Seconds Later

Nineteen Seconds Later


            “That wand’s more trouble than it’s worth,” said Harry. “And quite honestly,” he turned away from the portraits, thinking now only of the four-poster bed lying waiting for him in Gryffindor Tower, and wondering whether Kreacher might bring him a sandwich there,” I’ve had enough trouble for a lifetime.”

            Putting his arms around Ron and Hermione, Harry slipped on the Invisibility Cloak once more. With one final glance at Dumbledore’s portrait, they all exited the headmaster’s study for what would surely be the last time.

            Thoughts flooded Harry’s mind. It was as though he had aged a hundred years since the sun had last risen, and now, supported by his best friends, he could feel his life unfolding: time that he had spent seeking Horcruxes and, he was not ashamed to admit, coveting Hallows; time in which his every thought and entire self had been attached to Voldemort; it was all time that was now being given back to him. He could live. He would live. He, Ron, Hermione – they had survived. Abruptly, Harry came to a halt in the middle of the hallway. He ushered Ron and Hermione wordlessly into an empty classroom, where the first shafts of daylight blinded and enveloped them. Removing the cloak, he crossed to the high windows on the opposite side of the room.

            Since he had arrived at the Burrow for Bill and Fleur’s wedding (had it really been only one year ago?), he had had something important to tell his best friends. It had been there always, since two became three so many Halloweens ago. Neither Ron nor Hermione said anything, but Harry knew that they were simply relishing the chance to let him take his time. Last year, the discussion of anything that didn't relate to Voldemort was wasteful and even reckless in light of the size of their task at hand. One night after Ron had come back, while he and Hermione slept, Harry had lain awake in his bunk and allowed himself to steal away from the throes of his quest and just think. At that moment, he had not been able to remember the last time that the three of them hadn’t been consumed with thoughts of Voldemort and the job which Dumbledore had left them. Harry turned back and considered them. Ron, he noticed, had both arms around Hermione, unashamedly verifying the nature of his feelings for her. The expression on his face was not one of victory, but of bereavement. Fred’s death had clearly stricken him. Ron blinked and looked down into Hermione’s face.

            She gave him a small smile, but it quickly fell into a half-frown. She sighed, and cupped his face in her hand. Resting her free hand on his shoulder, she stood on tip-toes and kissed Ron again.

            When they broke apart, their arms still around each other, they turned and faced Harry. Their expressions were expectant, but for the first time in a long while, patient. He had all the time in the world to tell them this most important thing.

            He expected words to pour forth, but none came. He felt his brow furrow. “Look,” he said, “it’s just –”

            “– We know, Harry,” Hermione interposed. “It’s all right.”

             Harry opened his mouth to protest, but suddenly, it dawned on him. The war was over. They had won. Simultaneously, Ron and Hermione walked toward Harry and enveloped him in their arms once more. “It’s finally over,” Hermione whispered. Harry noticed that for once, no tears fell from Hermione’s eyes. He nodded in agreement.

            And it was then that he knew what he wanted to say. “Thank you,” he said. And that was enough.

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