- Draco Malfoy Ginny Weasley
- Drama Romance
- Multiple Eras
- Philosopher's Stone Chamber of Secrets Prizoner of Azkaban Goblet of Fire Quidditch Through the Ages Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them
Published: 08/16/2002Updated: 12/01/2002Words: 98,611Chapters: 18Hits: 65,644
Sea of Waking Dreams
- Story Summary:
- Draco Malfoy has seen his share of nightmares and now, as the war with Voldemort rages around him, it takes Ginny Weasley and a ragged band of orphans to teach him what true love and loyalty really are. Draco/Ginny, and a few brief instances of m/m kissing.
Sea of Waking Dreams 17
- Chapter Summary:
- Draco Malfoy has seen his share of nightmares and now, as the war with Voldemort rages around him, it takes Ginny Weasley and a ragged band of orphans to teach him what true love and loyalty really are. Draco/Ginny, and a few brief instances of m/m kissing
Sea of Waking Dreams
Chapter seventeenListen as the wind blows
from across the great divide,
Voices trapped in yearning,
memories trapped in time,
The night is my companion
and solitude my guide,
Would I spend forever here
and not be satisfied?
-Possession, Sarah Mclachlan
The children had taken Fred and George’s room, the twins had moved into Bill, Charlie, and Percy’s room, and the baby was in Molly and Arthur’s room. Draco knocked softly and entered the children’s room, forcing a smile. The room was lit brightly and the children weren’t sleeping. They were all clustered on one of the two beds, talking solemnly, and when they saw Draco there, they cried out gladly and, as one, attacked him, wrapping their arms around him.
“Draco!” Miles said. “I thought you didn’t love us anymore!”
“Of course I do,” Draco scolded gently.
“I told him that,” Belle told him emphatically. “I did. I knew you’d be back.”
Keela had buried her face in his leg. “Does Ginny hate us?” she whimpered.
“Of course not,” Iniko snapped. “She’s just sick. We’ve been making finger paintings to give her to get well again,” he told Draco, pointing to a table that was piled high with paintings.
“She’ll love them,” he said softly. “But Ginny’s had an accident.”
“We know,” Belle said with a nod. “The bad man made her forget us. But we’ve been thinking of ways to make her remember.”
“Really?” he asked, guiding them all back to the bed. “Like what?”
“We can teach her, like she taught us reading,” she replied. “We can show her pictures and make her repeat things over and over until she remembers.”
Draco smiled indulgently, though he felt cold inside. “I’ve come to tell you a bedtime story,” he told them. Lucky was watching his face with a strange, wise expression in her eyes, and Draco wondered how much of his emotion she could feel.
“About a princess?” she asked suddenly, climbing onto his bed.
“And an ogre,” he agreed.
“Who has no friends because he stinks too bad?” Keela mumbled, curling up at his side and sucking her thumb. Draco leaned back against the headboard and they all curled up around him.
“Yes, exactly,” Draco said with a smile.
He told them a long fairy tale that ended happily, of course, and then, after he was sure they were asleep, he lay there with them for a long time, lost in thought. He had dimmed the lights, and the soft breathing of the sleeping children was the only sound.
And then Lucky whispered, “She’s dreaming about you.”
Draco was startled, he had thought she was asleep. “Who is?” he asked.
“Ginny.” Lucky sat up, her blue eyes very dark, and she suddenly looked a lot older than her six years. “Her head forgot but her soul remembers, and she’s dreaming of you now. I can feel it.”
“You can feel it?” he breathed.
“She’s crying inside, lost. She keeps trying to find you and she can’t because the bad man twisted all the paths.”
Sudden hope made his hands tremble. “Can you send me to her?” he whispered. “You sent me to Harry before, can you send me to Ginny now?”
Lucky nodded solemnly. “I can, I think. But she’s dreaming, it’s all…choppy. She’s gone a little mad. I can try, but I don’t know if you can find her.”
“I can try.”
“I don’t know if I can bring you back, if you get lost,” she whispered nervously. “I don’t know how.”
“I won’t get lost,” he swore. “I promise.”
“Then I can do it, now, while she’s dreaming of you. If she were dreaming of something else, you’d get lost for sure, so if you want me to, I better do it now.”
Draco nodded, untangling himself from the other children and helping Lucky off the bed.
Ginny’s room was dark again, but she really was sleeping this time, and Draco lit a dim fire in the hearth. He inspected her sleeping face in the firelight and reached out, touching her cheek with his fingertips. Lucky watched, her eyes brimming with tears.
“She’s screaming,” she said softly. “Like she thinks you’ve just left her there.”
Draco’s eyes were dark. “Send me after her. I’ll bring her back, if I can.”
“It might not work.”
“But it’s the only hope. It’ll work.”
Lucky nodded, pulling Snape’s wand out of her pocket. “All right.” Her eyes darkened as she released the magic inside her, and Draco felt it wash over him, and he tilted his head back, letting it filter through him, bringing with it a terrible, echoing panic. Ginny’s panic.
And then everything dropped away and he was falling…
He closed his eyes and when he opened them, he was standing in a wasteland. An endless expanse of nothing stretching as far as he could see in any direction, just a wavering, blank canvas. He could hear distant voices, soft, melodic, and instinctively walked towards them. It was dreamlike, and he didn’t question it when a few seconds later, he stepped out of the wasteland and into a bright, verdant landscape of multicolours and the wild imaginings of Ginny Weasley at twelve years old. The ground was the bright, perfect green that comes from a single shade of green paint, and the sky was an endless expanse of brilliant blue, unmarked by clouds. There were whispers all around, of memories and vague dreamlike thoughts, seemingly disconnected but making sense all the same, the way dreams do. Draco paused, looking around. This wasn’t like it had been in Harry’s mind. Harry’s mind had been empty, shaken with shock and the magic of a Dementor’s kiss. This was the twisted mind of a child.
“Ginny?” he called. He could still feel the fear Lucky had used to channel him into Ginny’s dream, but without a physical representation of her to reenact that fear with, he had broken out of the spell. His voice echoed and there was a sudden rustling behind him. He spun.
A little girl with ginger hair and huge brown eyes stood there gazing up at him. “You’re here for her, aren’t you?” she asked. She had a bit of a lisp.
The child, who was Ginny at eight years old, shook her head slowly with a rather enigmatic smile. “It’s not that easy, you know,” she whispered, still smiling. “She came running from nothing, and now she does nothing but cry.”
“Where is she?”
“Where do you think? Where she’s always been, where she always goes to cry. She gave herself to him long before she gave herself to you.” The little girl, eyes wiser than they should have been, grinned, and her nose wrinkled as she did. “You think you know her well enough? What’s she always hid behind?”
Draco glanced around slowly, at the flickers of Ginny’s dreams. He was standing in the middle of a wild fantasy world that had been Ginny’s hopes and dreams as a child, before the war. What had Ginny hid behind? “Tom Riddle,” he whispered.
The girl’s smile was strangely chilling and slightly mad, in a sweetly, innocent childlike way. “The diary,” she hissed, and then everything shifted and changed and he was standing somewhere else.
It was shadowy here, and cobwebs drifted through the air, as if this part of her mind had been roped off, forgotten, forcefully cast aside. It was a large chamber and it did not flicker with childish imaginings and memories, though he could hear whispers, even if he could not make out their words.
He didn’t have to. There was a crack and then a voice hissed, “Where are you, you stupid girl?”
And an eleven-year-old Ginny hurried into the room. She had ashes on her face, streaking it like tears. “Here,” she called. She was looking around wildly. “Tom? Tom, where are you? I thought you loved me! Tom? Please, I’ve been looking for you for days, Tom.” She was searching the room, there were marble pillars, at least a hundred, and she looked behind every one before sobbing and sitting down on the floor in despair.
And then Tom called again. “I’m over here, stupid girl.” And Ginny started looking all over again, behind every pillar. She didn’t find him, and when she gave up, it just started all over again.
“I should know you,” a voice said solemnly, right behind him.
Draco spun around, and Ginny, older now, with the same ashes as before streaking her face, stood there, watching the little girl searching the pillars. She was dressed in a shapeless white dress, and her eyes were red with tears.
“Have you been crying?” Draco asked cautiously.
She turned to him with a weary smile. “Answer a question with a question?” she replied sweetly. “Answer mine first.”
“What question? You didn’t ask a question.”
“I did. Who are you?” She reached up and brushed her fingertips over his forehead, straight down over his nose, and pausing at his lips. “I should know you,” she said again, tilting her head and looking a little perplexed.
“You should,” he replied finally. “I know you very well.”
She smiled. “That explains it then. I know nothing, though I suspect I used to. Now I watch her look for him. She’ll never find him, though she never stops looking.” She was watching the little girl search the Chamber of Secrets for Tom Riddle again.
“You don’t remember me, then?”
She glanced at him again, her head cocked to the side as she inspected his face. “I don’t even remember me any longer,” she said abruptly. Then she smiled and touched his lips again. “I should think I’d like to know you though. It worries me; someone was supposed to come for me.” She glanced around with wide, innocent eyes. “You haven’t seen him, have you?”
“Seen who?” Draco asked, growing frightened and frustrated. She wasn’t making sense.
“That’s just it, I don’t quite remember. I expect he’ll be arriving soon, at any rate.” She traced his lips with a fingernail. “I should think I’d like to know you,” she said again. “I came from the wasteland.” She glanced over her shoulder and Draco followed her gaze. The wasteland he’d walked through to find her was suddenly behind him, the same blank nothing. She leaned forward and whispered, “They tell me it used to be the most beautiful part of all, and then it just all went away and all that was left was me. It’s getting larger, the wasteland. They’re afraid it’s going to take over.”
“Ginny, we can fix it,” Draco whispered.
She laughed. “I’ve gone a little mad I think. It’s all echoing, in here.” She touched her forehead.
“I don’t know what to do. Tell me what to do, because this isn’t making sense to me now.” He was afraid to touch her or to move and frighten her.
“What do you want to do?” she asked with a shrug. “Why are you even here?”
“I want you to remember.”
“Then remind me.” She smiled very gently and touched his face again. “I can’t very well remember if you don’t remind me. What is it I’m supposed to be reminded of, exactly?”
“I love you.”
Her eyes widened a bit in surprise. “You do? Do I love you back?”
“You said you did.”
“Then I probably did. I don’t think I’m the kind of person to lie about something like that.”
He smiled, a frantic desperation making his hands tremble. He reached up and touched her face. “You’re not,” he said.
She nodded. “All right. So remind me that you love me.”
“However you think would work. Slay me a dragon. Isn’t that how it goes in fairytales?”
He glanced around nervously, looking for a dragon. “There don’t seem to be any dragons here.”
She looked disappointed. “I saw an ogre a while back,” she said with a shrug. “He stank so badly that no one wanted to be his friend. I just assumed there would be dragons as well.”
“I could kiss you,” he suggested nervously.
She glanced at his mouth doubtfully. “That will make me remember?”
Draco ran a hand through his hair. “Maybe. I don’t know. It might. I don’t know what to do!”
“It’s all right,” she said soothingly. Then her face twisted a little, grimly. “I don’t think I’m supposed to be here.”
“You’re not,” he told her. “You’re supposed to be with me.”
“I’m not,” she argued gently. “I shouldn’t be alive at all. I was supposed to die. I know that. That’s the only thing I know. I should be dead, but I didn’t die. Do you know why?”
Draco nodded. “I wouldn’t let you go.”
She smiled. “That’s why I’m still here at all. I should be gone, I shouldn’t exist at all. I don’t remember anything, but I’m still here. It’s strange, nothing here has any recollection of my existence and yet I exist. I would have thought that if no one was aware of me, I wouldn’t be real. Maybe I’m not real. This is just a dream, after all. If I hadn’t died before, I wouldn’t be here now. I owe my existence to dying.” She thought for a moment. “Maybe the only reason any part of me exists at all, even just a shadow of me, is that I was tied to the world before. Maybe. But kiss me, if you think it will help. I think I would probably like for you to kiss me.”
“You used to,” he replied with another desperate sort of smile. He stepped closer to her, and she waited patiently. Picking up her hand, he laced his fingers between hers, and tugged her a little closer. Then he frowned and turned her hand over in his, so he could study the palm.
It was pale and smooth, unmarked. The usual lines weren’t there, the headline, the heartline, and the lifeline no longer existed, and it was disconcerting to see. Draco smoothed his thumb over it, swallowed heavily, and glanced back at her face. She was staring at their hands with a strange sort of expression, as if she were concentrating very hard.
When he kissed her, it was a shaking, fragile kiss that tasted of ashes, fear, and desperation, and very gentle. He brushed his lips across hers lightly before kissing her more firmly, closing his eyes because her lips felt so familiar that it was disorienting to see the strange, unfamiliar lights dancing in her eyes. He swept his tongue over her closed lips, coaxing them open, though he didn’t move his tongue into her mouth. Instead, he nibbled and sucked on her lips until a strange, innocent sort of curiosity inspired her to slip her tongue into his mouth, the slight hint of his taste making her want more. It was an exotic taste she couldn’t remember ever having known before, and she wanted more.
He whimpered a little, moving his tongue against hers, letting her taste him and explore his mouth because he knew hers so well by now, he did not need to do the same. He wanted her to remember, he was aching for her to remember.
She kissed him for a long time, until his lips tingled and he was dizzy, and when she pulled back, he was sure she remembered, because she rested her forehead against his, shaking. And then she whispered, “I want so badly to remember.
He jerked away, shaken more than ever. It had been like kissing a stranger. The taste and feel were the same, but the movements were different, more curiosity than hunger. He stepped back again, and now he was standing on the very edge of the wasteland. “I’m sorry,” he whispered. “I’ve got to go.”
She looked panicked. “No, don’t! I’m sorry, I tried, I want to remember, I do!”
“I can’t,” he cried. “It hurts. It’s not supposed to hurt like this!”
“Don’t go that way,” she said desperately. “It isn’t safe in the wasteland. Stay here with me.”
“I don’t know you,” he replied gently, though his voice shook. “I don’t know you anymore.”
“It doesn’t matter, just please, please, don’t go that way,” she begged.
Draco was walking backwards, forcing every step. “I’ll come back for you,” he promised. “I will. I just can’t do this right now.”
“Don’t leave me,” she whispered.
His step faltered. “Come with me then.”
“Come with you where?” she asked. “There’s nothing out there.” He could hear her as if she were standing right before him, though she was far away now.
“There is,” he told her. “There’s everything you don’t remember, and so many more memories you haven’t made yet.”
She was shaking her head. “It scares me. I can’t walk in the wasteland, every steps burns. I have to stay here. I have to see if the little girl finds him! He’s standing behind one of the pillars, he has to be! Stay with me, and we can help her search.”
“She never finds him.”
“Then we can help him hide. Just don’t go.”
“I can’t stay here with you. I’ll go mad.” He was so far away now that he could barely see her. “I’ll come back for you.”
She let out a low, mournful cry, and Draco flinched, wanting to run back, pull her into his arms, and make everything better. He couldn’t though, he didn’t have the strength. Or the courage. She was just a shadow.
He turned and started to run and everything there gradually faded into a dull gray with every step he took.
He didn’t notice when, hesitantly, she stepped into the wasteland, watching as he disappeared into nothing. The step burned as she knew it would, and there were soft whispers in her echoing mind, whispers of things she had known but forgotten. Painful things.
She squinted, trying to see him now, but he was gone. She took another step. Had the wasteland swallowed him? Or was he right? Was there something on the other side?
The taste of him was still on her lips, and she licked them thoughtfully. When he had kissed her, it had made her ache inside to remember, as if she knew that the memories of all the times he had kissed her before would be so sweet that she craved them.
She took another step, the whispers becoming soft voices, memories, and she flinched as they began gradually washing over her. Beneath her bare feet, perfect green grass, as if it had been painted with a single shade of paint, began to sprout, and flowers began to grow. She closed her eyes and took another step, more memories returning, and the nothingness above became tinted with a hint of blue.
Her eyes opened, thoughtful now, and she took a few more hesitant steps. Her pace began to quicken, and as she ran, more and more colour, scenery, and wild imaginings, memories, painted the landscape. She began to run, lifting the hem of her white nightgown, her hair streaming behind her, and tears washed down her face, taking the ashes away.
With every step, more and more memories returned, and it was like falling in love with him all over again.
Draco’s eyes flew open and he was back in the room at the Leaky Cauldron, his body bathed in a cold sweat. He could tell hours had gone by, and Lucky was curled up on the floor, asleep. He took a deep, shuddering breath, and glanced at Ginny, still asleep on the bed. Her lips were slightly parted and her eyelids were flickering.
He traced her features in the silver light of the moon that spilled through window. He licked his lips and took a deep breath before kissing her gently. “I won’t leave you,” he promised very softly, ignoring the way his voice shook. He picked Lucky up and carried her out of the room and back to where the other children slept, returning a few minutes later. Ginny was still sleeping, and he ran a trembling hand through his hair. He was about to take the chair before the hearth when Ginny let out a low, frightened moan. She started moving restlessly, panting, and Draco approached her bedside warily. She was still asleep.
“Draco,” she whimpered, and Draco flinched, remembering what Lucky had said. She was dreaming of him, even if she didn’t remember him when she was awake.
“I’m here,” he said softly, taking her hand. She held onto him tightly, and Draco sat on the edge of the bed, stroking her arm soothingly. He was afraid she’d wake up, but she slept on, though a few minutes later, she started to cry softly.
Draco crawled onto the bed beside her, pulling her into his arms, even if he knew she’d kill him when she woke up, because he couldn’t stand to leave her that way. She instinctively snuggled closer to him, her head resting on his shoulder, and he tightened his arms around her. Her breathing slowly calmed and she slept peacefully in his arms, and Draco smiled wryly. He didn’t sleep for a long time, just lay there while her familiar scent wrapped around him and her soft breathing brushed the hollow of his throat.
He finally fell asleep sometime near dawn, leaning his head back against the headboard, his arms still holding her against his chest. His was a weak, dreamless sleep.
Ginny awoke a short while after the sun came up, her eyes flying open as if she’d been slapped. She sucked in a huge breath and let it out slowly, her entire body trembling. For a moment, her mind was blank, and then she remembered. Everything.
With a soft whimper, she squeezed her eyes shut, her breathing becoming ragged. “Oh, god, Draco,” she mumbled, before realizing that she was cradled in his arms. For a few moments, she stayed very still, listening to his breathing and his heart beating, his arms warm and safe around her. Then, slowly, she lifted her head so she could see his face. His head was resting back against the headboard, exposing his throat to her, and it made him seem very vulnerable. There were purple circles of exhaustion on his face, and his lips were slightly parted.
When Ginny started moving, Draco was so tired that he didn’t even wake, and she shifted until she was straddling his waist, facing him. She picked up one of his hands and laced her fingers with his, biting her lip as she inspected his face. She didn’t want to wake him just yet.
She pressed her other hand to his chest, and then slid it upwards carefully, softly, until she could feel his pulse beating at his throat. “Draco,” she called very quietly. She brought his hand to her lips and kissed his palm. “Draco, wake up.”
He didn’t so much as move, and Ginny leaned up, pressing a soft kiss where his jaw met his neck. He shifted a little underneath her, his breath faltering a tiny bit, and Ginny smiled gently, leaning up higher and kissing the place where his cheekbone met his ear, still holding one of his hands in hers, her other hand still over his heart. “Wake up,” she whispered again. “C’mon, I’ll be your best friend.” She smiled through a sudden rush of tears that nearly blinded her, and Draco’s eyes fluttered a tiny bit, his hand tightening around hers.
She pressed her parted lips against his then, her tongue tracing them coaxingly as he slowly woke up, his hand tightening around her waist as he began kissing her back, his eyes, when they opened, still dark and cloudy with sleep. His tongue stroked hers lazily before he pressed a few light kisses to her cheek and temple.
And then his eyes went wide. “Ginny?” he breathed, his hands moving up to cup her face. “You remember?”
She nodded, laughing softly even as tears suddenly started pouring down her face. “How could I forget?” she said, her voice breaking. Draco looked so vulnerable and stunned, his eyes running over her face as if he wanted to remember every detail of it, and she started stroking his hair soothingly. “You came for me,” she whispered, smiling through her tears. “I didn’t think you’d come for me.”
“Of course I came for you! I love you!”
She smiled again, kissing him. “Well, I didn’t remember that, now did I?”
“But you do now?” he asked desperately, kissing her back, his hands running up and down her back as if to reassure himself that she was really there.
“If I didn’t,” she said a little breathlessly, after he had kissed her again. “You’d just have to remind me.”
He crushed her to him suddenly, so tightly that it was nearly painful. His entire body was trembling and Ginny wrapped her arms around him, cradling him against her and stroking his back. “It’s all right,” she whispered. “Everything’s all right now.”
“Mmm. Yes. But if you ever do anything like that again…” he trailed off, nuzzling against the side of her neck.
“I won’t,” she promised. “I swear it.” She smoothed his hair back. “What happens now?”
He pulled away, smiling. “Now? We take the children back to Malfoy Manor and live there forever.”
She frowned. “You keep saying that.”
“That this is forever.”
“It’s just… Forever’s a long time.” She glanced away nervously. “What if you change your mind?”
Draco brought her hands up to his lips and brushed a kiss across her knuckles. “Change my mind?” he breathed. “Ginny, I was out of my mind before I fell in love with you, I’m not just going to change my mind. I’m nothing without you. I’ve nearly lost you twice now, and I died a little more each time. You think I’m just going to let you go? This is forever, it’s always been forever, it was meant to be forever, and I didn’t have a choice in the beginning and I don’t have one now. Even if I did have a choice, how can I choose anything but you? My father told me I didn’t know how to love, just before I killed him, and he was right. I didn’t. But if there is anyone who can teach me, it’s you, and being with you, even for just one day, is sweet enough to make up for a lifetime of nightmares, so yes, this is forever. I thought you knew. Malfoys never fall in love unless it’s forever.”
They were tangled together on the bed and it was difficult to tell who was holding who by this time, because they were both holding onto each other, and Ginny started to cry. “So there’s nothing else, is there?” she begged. “We can really just take the children and go home? The ministry doesn’t want them anymore?”
“Fudge has been removed from office, and the new Minister of Magic has overruled the order to Memory charm them.”
“Who’s the new minister?”
“Dumbledore, of course, if only in a temporary sense, until Hogwarts is rebuilt. So yes, we can go home.”
“How did you know Fudge was a Death Eater?”
“The harp on his mantle was the same one Hermione and I found in the ruins of Hogwarts. The only way he could have gotten it was if he wasn’t in the castle like everyone thought. Then there was the fact that he only wanted to erase the memories of our children —” Ginny shivered a little when he called them ‘ours’ “— and none of the other war orphans.”
Ginny closed her eyes, sniffling. “So it’s really over? We can go home?”
“Yes.” He kissed the top of her head. “We can go home.”
The dead had been collected and buried on a distant hill overlooking Seandrar Castle. It was a barren, lonely place, the castle just visible on one side and the glittering black ocean stretching into the horizon. The ocean breeze was crisp, and Harry took a deep breath, closing his eyes. The wind ruffled his hair, and he smiled a little. He was leaving Scotland that afternoon, going back to London with Oliver. He didn’t know what he wanted to do now, but he did know that somehow, in the last few days, he had gathered the strength to do it. Oliver had a lot to do with it, he knew. And Harry smiled again, wistfully, before turning, about to walk away from the graves and back to the castle where Oliver waited.
Ron was standing at the entrance to the new graveyard, his hands shoved deeply in his pockets, his red hair blowing like fire in the wind. He was watching Harry solemnly, and when he saw him looking back, he hurried into the graveyard and over to where Harry stood.
“I came back to say good-bye,” Ron said softly.
Harry looked surprised. “Good-bye?” he asked.
Ron nodded. “Going back to The Burrow. Everything in London’s wrapped up now, the children have gone home with Ginny and Draco, so there’s nothing really left for me there.”
“What about rebuilding Hogwarts? I thought you were going to help us.”
Ron shrugged. “I will. It’s going to take a while before we can start working; Dumbledore’s got a right mess on his hands, after this whole thing with the Ministry. So I’m going home, and I wasn’t sure when I’d get to see you next, so I thought I’d Floo back here to say good-bye.”
Harry turned back to the grave he’d been studying. “Why?” he asked quietly, without looking up. “Why’d you come back at all?”
Stung, Ron took a step back, turning to leave. “I’m sorry,” he said, his voice thick. “I shouldn’t have —”
“They let me pick what her grave said,” Harry interrupted. “A committee was set up to conjure graves for the dead. They asked me what I wanted Hermione’s to say, and I didn’t know.”
Ron, swallowing nervously, approached Harry and stood at his side, inspecting the grave. It was made of a stone that looked like rose quartz, except it glittered with silver starlight wherever sunlight touched it. A touch of wizardry, he knew, so that any other witches or wizards who came upon this grave would know she was a witch, though Muggles wouldn’t be able to tell the difference. All witches and wizards were given stones like these. Underneath Hermione’s name, birthday, and date of death, were the simple words, “Beloved Friend.” Ron swallowed again, glancing at Harry out of the corner of his eye.
“I didn’t know,” Harry whispered in a shaking voice
He was trembling with pain and Ron just stood there, watching him, wondering how it had come to this. Three best friends, saving the world again and again, Hermione with her intelligence and Harry with his bravery and Ron with nothing but loyalty. And now Hermione was dead, Harry was shaking with fear and pain, and Ron was seething with the need to scream, “You killed her, Harry, it was you. Why didn’t you just love her the way she loved you? The way I loved her?”
But he didn’t. He was silent.
The wind blew through the graves and the shattering of waves against rocks was heard below. A seagull cried and the rest was silence. And then Ron lifted his hand and rested it on Harry’s shoulder. His hand was shaking. “Harry,” he said in an infinitely gentle voice. “She’s gone.”
“You think I don’t know that?”
“You haven’t let her go. She died, you lived, you’ve got to move on.”
Harry smiled dryly. “Oh, Ron, that’s why I came here,” he said. “You came here to say good-bye to me, and I came to say good-bye to her. We’re all saying good-bye.” Harry thought for a moment. “Some people fall, and some people jump, but not everyone shatters on the rocks.”
“What do you mean?” Ron asked softly, pushing his hair off of his forehead.
Harry smiled again. “I mean, Ron, that you came here to tell me to move on, when I came here to say good-bye so that I could, and yet you still blame me for her death though you won’t say it. I mean that Hermione fell and I jumped, and she shattered and I didn’t, but you, Ron, you’re still standing on the wall. Maybe you should be here having this conversation by yourself, because I’ve already had it with someone else.” He smiled gently, softening the words.
Ron sucked a deep breath in through his teeth. “Books and cleverness,” he whispered. “There are more important things.”
“Friendship and bravery,” Harry said with a shrug.
“And Harry, be careful,” Ron finished with a small grin, which Harry returned.
The wind ran through their hair and they stood that way in silence for a long while, Ron’s hand resting on Harry’s shoulder and Harry smiling a little, his eyes shining with tears. And then Ron hugged him suddenly, his chest shuddering with a sob. “I’m sorry, Harry, I’m so sorry.”
Harry didn’t reply, he just held him tightly until Ron couldn’t cry any longer. “All right, Ron?” Harry asked softly, after Ron had pulled away.
“I feel like it’s all some terrible dream and I’ll wake up any second. This whole thing has taught me that dying isn’t to be feared. Dying means you don’t have to hurt anymore. It’s being left behind that terrifies me.”
“You have to keep living though, really, that’s all there is to do.”
“You can say so. You’ve always been ridiculously brave.”
Harry smiled. “And so have you.”
Ron smiled grudgingly in return, before his eyes slid back to Hermione’s grave. “It’s just strange. I always thought that the war with Voldemort would go on forever and that it was the hardest thing I’d ever have to face. But now, after we’ve killed the bad guy, I’m standing here looking at all that’s left of my best friend, and I know that facing Voldemort was nothing. Thinking of walking away and leaving her here, on this lonely cliff in Scotland, that’s the hardest thing I’ve ever done, easily.”
Harry glanced around in surprise. “Lonely? It’s not lonely here, Ron, it’s one of the most beautiful, alive places I’ve ever seen. And besides, it’s not Hermione you’re leaving, because she’s a part of you. And me. We’ll be friends forever, if only because of that. Even if you blame me for her death, her death is the one thing that will solidify our friendship into something immortal.”
“Harry,” Ron whispered painfully. “It’s not the one thing making our friendship immortal. There are a thousand things that make it that. I blame myself as much as I blame you, and I’m not going on about disowning myself now, am I?”
Harry smiled a little, and glanced back at the grave, his eyes sliding from the rose stone to the horizon stretching out into the distance. “It’s going to be all right,” he said softly. “It will, Ron.”
“What’s happened to you?” Ron whispered, though he was smiling in a small, confused sort of way. “The last time I saw you, I was afraid you were going to kill yourself or something.”
Harry looked vaguely surprised. “You were?”
Ron nodded. Then, after a short pause, he asked, “What was it like? Jumping, I mean.”
Harry’s eyes slid back to the castle, the northern battlements above the ragged cliffs, the sea crashing below. “It was like flying,” he whispered. “Like falling in love. You’re falling so fast that you’re afraid you’ll shatter on the rocks before you remember to pull up, but you can’t imagine being anywhere else because he’s beside you and he’ll catch you, somehow he’ll catch you, if you forget to come out of the dive.”
“Who? Who will catch you?”
A little startled, Harry smiled. “No one. C’mon, we’ve got to get back to the castle. Oliver’s waiting for me.”
Ron, casting his friend a suspicious look but not saying anything, glanced one last time at the pink stone before following Harry out of the graveyard. They walked back to Seandrar Castle together in silence, their arms brushing occasionally, both lost in thought, tiny smiles on their lips.