Harry Potter - Series Fan Fiction ❯ Harry Potter and the Werewolf Prophecy ❯ TEACHERS AND PREFECTS ( Chapter 18 )
“It’s at the front, Harry. It’s a carriage for prefects, and the teachers normally go there as well,” said Hermione, “though it’s not compulsory.”
“Lupin didn’t,” said Harry.
“Well, he probably felt a bit self-conscious.”
“Well, he must have wanted to keep out of the way, being a werewolf,” said Ron.
Hermione sighed. “Nobody knew he was a werewolf then, Ron. He must have just...”
“Better get aboard,” interrupted Harry. He caught Ginny’s eye and nodded at Ron and Hermione. “Bye, Ron.”
“Yeah, bye,” said Ginny, and she and Harry lugged their trunks into the carriage.
They dragged their trunks into the compartment and sat down. Hermione followed a few seconds later.
“The train doesn’t leave for another ten minutes,” said Ginny.
“I know,” said Hermione, looking downwards. “I wanted to get settled.”
Harry looked out the window. Ron was walking away, not turning around. Harry looked back at Hermione. She was folding her coat to put it in the rack, avoiding their gaze.
“How are things with Ron, Hermione?” asked Ginny, quietly.
Hermione sat down, held her hands in her lap, and stared at them. “I don’t know. He’s happier now, he’s getting up, going in to work. But we seem more distant every day.”
Ginny leaned forward. “Are things… clicking?” she asked, conspiratorially.
“Oh, that,” said Hermione, smiling slightly. “That’s fine. Anything rather than talking.”
“Sometimes it is all about wand-work,” said Ginny.
Harry looked back and forth between them, his mouth open.
Ginny laughed. “Oh, Harry, you’re shocked. Don’t you talk to Ron about things like that?”
“No!” said Harry, vehemently.
“What do you talk about, then? Quidditch, I suppose,” said Ginny dismissively.
“All sorts of things. Just not… private stuff,” said Harry, feeling hugely embarrassed.
“Well, you’ve kept everything bottled up since I’ve known you,” said Hermione. “I don’t suppose that’s going to change.”
“Oh, he’s getting better,” said Ginny, patting Harry’s arm. “Every now and again he tells me how he’s feeling. Sometimes I don’t even have to ask.”
Hermione sighed. “I wish Ron would. The more that’s going on in his mind, the less he wants to talk about it. And I don’t feel able to talk if he won’t. Oh, and this stupid book!” She reached into her bag and took out the copy of Advanced Potion-Making.
“Did George talk to you?” said Harry.
“No. Ron. George didn’t dare, I suppose. But Ron said that if I didn’t look at it, then George’d find someone else, and would I take the risk? Honestly. Did you go along with this?”
Harry held up his hands. “I just said to ask you. I don’t have to decide everything for everyone.”
There was a shudder and lurch. “We’re moving,” said Ginny. “I’d better check the carriages.”
“Should I come along?” asked Harry, beginning to stand.
“No, don’t bother,” said Ginny. “Prefects’ job. Professors only get involved if there’s a problem.”
“Like Dementors,” said Harry, grimly, recalling his first encounter with Remus Lupin.
“Well, if any of the first years are Dementors, I’ll come back and get you,” said Ginny, opening the door to the corridor.
“Seems odd, just the two of us,” said Harry, as Ginny moved down the corridor.
“I had to get on the train by myself in second year,” said Hermione. “I had no idea what had happened to you both. I was dreading the thought of being by myself for the rest of my time at Hogwarts.”
“Funny how we got together,” mused Harry. “I mean, why us three?”
“Not that unlikely, really,” said Hermione. “You had no idea what was going on. You’d never heard of magic up until a few weeks before you started. Ron has no confidence because of being constantly knocked back by his older brothers. It makes sense that you’d end up together.”
Harry stared. “It sounds a bit mechanical, when you put it like that.”
“Maybe it is. I was lonely and sad, and nobody liked me.”
“And we were picked on by a troll,” said Harry.
“That’s what cemented things. We’ve been through a lot, together.”
“Isn’t that enough? For you and Ron?” Harry was almost pleading.
Hermione sighed. “You and Ron will always be my best friends. That will never change. I just don’t know if we are going to last as something else.”
Harry shook his head. “I really want for the two of you to be happy.”
“I know, Harry.” She reached across and patted his hand. “I don’t know. Maybe we just need time. Maybe it’s the Muggle thing.”
“The Muggle thing? What do you mean?” said Harry, puzzled.
“Oh, you must notice it. Whenever we talk about my life with my family, or my old school, or any of the things I used to do – how does Ron react?”
Harry thought. “Well, he usually thinks it’s funny, or odd, or stu… Oh, I see.”
“Harry, doesn’t it bother you?” asked Hermione.
“Well, no. Because if I talk about Muggles, it’s the Dursleys. And frankly if Ron said he thought they were nice, intelligent people then I’d be a bit annoyed.”
Hermione frowned. “Well, I suppose that makes sense for you. You didn’t have a good experience of living with Muggles. But I did, Harry. I had good, loving parents. I didn’t have many friends, but I wasn’t isolated or bullied. I had a good life, and it would have been a good life even without magic.”
“But Ron doesn’t… I mean, the Weasleys don’t look down on Muggles. They just don’t understand them.”
Hermione shook her head. “I thought that too. I mean, you had the Slytherins, with their horrible pure-blood thing, and the abuse. Calling me a mudblood.”
“Ron was furious about that.”
“Yes, he was. And I was very grateful that he really meant it. I think he’d have reacted the same way if he’d heard anyone say the same thing, about anyone. He hated the idea that someone would be judged by their parentage. But do you remember what Hagrid said?”
Harry pondered for a moment. “Something about don’t worry about it, you’re better at magic than any of them?”
“That’s right, Harry. I was worth something, because I could do magic well. And that’s what counts, isn’t it?” Hermione’s voice was hard.
“He didn’t mean...”
“He did, though. That pure-blood business is nonsense, because us mudbloods...”
“...mudbloods can be just as good at magic as anyone else. And that’s why the ‘decent’ wizards...”
Harry could hear the quote marks.
“…are willing to treat us as equals. Not like elves or goblins, or Muggles.”
There was a moment’s silence while Harry tried to collect his thoughts.
“Look… Arthur Weasley – he’s obsessed with Muggles. He loves them.”
“Oh, yes.” Hermione gave a laugh. It was not a nice laugh. “Arthur loves Muggles. He talks about them like talented little children. He’s amazed they can walk and talk.”
“Oh, come on Hermione!” said Harry, a little nettled. “That’s not fair. He isn’t like that.”
“Well… no. All right. But he does condescend, you can’t deny it. And Molly...”
“What about Molly?” snapped Harry. He’d always felt defensive about Molly Weasley, so often the subject of spiteful comments from Draco Malfoy.
“Do you remember when Arthur was in Saint Mungo’s? How his wounds didn’t heal, and they tried stitches?” Hermione was speaking quietly, but intensely.
“Yes,” said Harry, stiffly.
“And Molly was furious. With him, with the hospital. For doing something as mad as Muggle medicine. As if it were… primitive.”
“They were under a lot of stress, Hermione. We all were. He nearly died!” Harry protested.
“Yes, and that’s when people reveal their true feelings. When it came down to it, when she thought her husband would die, Molly Weasley didn’t trust Muggle medicine not to kill him. My parents are dentists, Harry! They’ve spent their lives helping people, and Molly thinks they are basically frauds! And the Weasleys are on the pure-blood registry. Yes, yes, I know that’s all rubbish, but it does mean that the Weasleys don’t marry outside this little world they live in.”
Harry looked at her in shock. “I… I never knew you felt this way about them.”
“But Harry, I love Molly! I love all of them. Even Ron. Especially Ron. It’s just… I let this go for so long. I felt the same way myself, and I didn’t even know it. I skipped Christmas skiing with my parents to come to Grimmauld Place with the Weasleys. I… I feel really guilty about that now. I feel as if I took sides against them. Not just then, but over the years. They kept buying me Muggle books – just ordinary books they thought I’d like – and I haven’t opened half of them. I always used to love the books they chose for me. Then they were just… not part of my life anymore.”
Harry shook his head. “It was just so different for me. I wanted to get out. Anything the Weasleys said about Muggles – well, I just took it as meaning the Dursleys, and I was ok with that. The Muggle world did nothing for me, and I was glad to be shot of it.”
Hermione nodded silently.
“Now I think of it – I just assumed that of course you’d want to be with the Weasleys at Christmas, or at Hogwarts. I never had a family myself, so I thought… well, no, that’s wrong, I didn’t think, because if I had I’d have had to face the fact that you had a family who loved you and I had...”
“Oh, Harry,” said Hermione softly. “It’s been so hard for you. I’ve had to choose between two worlds I love, and you’ve...”
“I’ve got a good life now,” said Harry firmly. “I could spend my time brooding about how unfair it all was, but it’s all in the past.”
Hermione nodded. “I’m really happy for you. It always seemed like too much of a burden, but somehow you coped. I couldn’t have.”
Harry shook his head. “I coped by leaning on you. You and Ron, but especially you. You were the one telling me the right thing to do, when I was losing my temper and charging in everywhere.”
Hermione smiled. “Sometimes charging in was the right thing to do. I’d have stood back and waited until it was too late.”
“At least we both had better judgement than Ron.” They both laughed.
“Anyway – I get what you mean about the Weasleys and Muggles. You should know, though – Molly Weasley has a job in the local shop. She’s learned Muggle money, though she has to convert it to real money in her head. She visits the vicar regularly. Since the family have mostly left home, she’s getting involved with her neighbours.”
“That’s wonderful!” said Hermione, fervently. “I mentioned a few times to her about going down to the village, and she always seemed to think it was a strange thing to do.”
“You change people, Hermione. When you started SPEW, it seemed like a crazy idea, but now there are loads of people interested in elf… stuff. You brought Ron round, remember?”
“I forget, sometimes. It seems as if nothing happens, but it does. Just a bit more slowly than I want.”
“What do you want from Ron?”
Hermione looked up at the ceiling, shaking her head. “If I knew, I’d tell him. Maybe it’s that we were friends so long, it’s difficult being something else.”
Harry sat back. “Hermione – may I say something? About you and Ron, I mean?”
Hermione looked at him, surprised. “Of course you can. You can say anything.”
“I just… I think back over the years, and you’ve been giving me good advice and I’ve usually not taken it. I’ve never given you advice about anything, and I’m not going to start now, because you’re a lot cleverer and more sensible than I am.”
Hermione smiled. “Maybe I’m just more opinionated.”
“Perhaps because your opinions are usually correct,” said Harry. “Look, I’ve been watching you and Ron for ten years now, and it’s been… you know, you spent most of that time quarrelling about something or other. You’d go months without talking sometimes. Not that Ron and me were any different, but...”
“You and Ron would have a fight about something, and then you’d get over it. With me and him, it’s more… a kind of perpetual condition, really. It’s how we interact.” Hermione shook her head ruefully.
“I sort of knew that you both wanted to take another step, but I totally understand why you didn’t. When you sort of go out with someone, it makes everything different. I didn’t want to think about it because it… I...” Harry paused, and cleared his throat. “I’ve had… a tough few years. There wasn’t much, sometimes, to look forward to. I used to think, well, I love Hogwarts, I want to go back to Hogwarts, but what I really meant was, I want to be back with Ron and Hermione again.”
Hermione leaned forward and patter Harry’s shoulder. He took a deep breath and continued. “It used to upset me when you were fighting, because… because you were all I had. I didn’t want to think about you being… if you were closer to each other then where would that leave me? I think I was selfish about it. Even though I didn’t… I mean, I tried not to think about it. I didn’t try to get in the way but I must have been in the way, mustn’t I? I mean, three’s a crowd.”
Hermione shook her head. “Harry, if it weren’t for you – Ron and I would never have been friends if we hadn’t been friends with you. We just used to rub each other up the wrong way.”
Harry gave her a sideways glance. “Do you rub each other up the right way now?”
“Harry!” said Hermione, laughing and blushing. She slapped his arm. “And you were complaining about Ginny.”
“Anyway,” Harry continued, “we were all in this horrific situation, where we thought we were all going to die at any time. Bad things happened to us. To you especially. It was… it was as if we could be snatched away at any time.”
Hermione nodded slowly. “When I kissed Ron, it suddenly seemed so stupid that I might never have done it. That we might have died and never acted.”
“And you did, and it was fantastic,” said Harry. “I felt good about it, and I felt good about the fact I felt good about it. But then… it was a matter of a few minutes, really. Ron’s old girlfriend is murdered in front of us. Then Fred is killed. You remember when you told Ron about how Cho was feeling, and he said that one person couldn’t feel all those things at once.”
Hermione thought for a moment. “Oh, yes. Trying to explain emotions to Ron.”
“Well, I don’t think Ron could feel all those things at once. He was happy, and in love, and angry, and sad – very, very sad – and I think guilty, about being happy when he should be sad, and sad when he should be happy. I don’t think he’s quite come out of that. When he couldn’t stand the Horcrux anymore and disapparated – he’s never quite forgiven himself. He wanted to be punished, and then… oh, I don’t know. Just… it’s not surprising if things are difficult. I know it’s going to get better.”
Hermione started to speak, but Harry held up his hand. “Just… I just want to finish. Look, I see that the Weasleys don’t know much about Muggles. Arthur’s been studying them his whole life and somehow hasn’t learned much. But shouldn’t you be trying to change that? You’ve been visiting the Weasley’s for ten years, but have you ever brought Ron to visit your family?”
Hermione looked at Harry in shock. “I… I didn’t think he’d want… I mean, he’s always having little digs about Muggles. I suppose… I suppose I was scared to risk it. You know how Ron is always complaining about something. What if he hated it? What if he thought my family were… weird, or stupid?”
“I don’t know how Ron would act if he stayed with your family. I mean, my dad and Petunia loathed each other. All I know is that you can’t keep loving Ron and loving your parents and not have them see each other for more than five minutes at King’s Cross. They are all going to be part of your life, if you stay with Ron. So make it happen.”
Harry had not meant to be so vehement. Hermione looked stunned, and on the verge of tears. “Look, I’m sorry,” he began.
“No, you’re right. I’ve been putting it off… well, I had to get them back from Australia, and I couldn’t do that until the goblins were sorted out, and the last of the Death Eaters… but I need to bring Ron to see them. Around Christmas, maybe. Funny how risking my life isn’t as scary as bringing my boyfriend home.”
“I do really want it to be OK for you two,” said Harry tightly.
“Thanks, Harry. It helps having you on our side.” Hermione leaned across and hugged Harry tightly. The carriage door opened and Ginny came back in.
“Oh, get a room, you two,” she said. They leaned back, grinning.
“They seem like a nice crowd, mostly” continued Ginny. “The Slytherins are a bit more subdued than usual. Half their parents dead or in prison, probably. Our lot were starting the trouble for once, but I sat on ‘em pretty firmly.”
“It’s going to be difficult,” said Hermione. “Having the children from both sides mixing together.”
“McGonagall wants people mixing more than before. She’d like to end the house system altogether,” said Harry.
“That’s daft,” said Ginny. “Oh, better not say that if I’m going to be enforcing the policy. Malfoy and his ape friends are gone, but there are a few people from Death Eater families. There are some obvious Slytherins among the first years. You know the look they have. Some of the kids are bound to want to settle scores. St.John Mullis was picking on Genevieve Subbotin and she isn’t even in Slytherin yet.”
“Oh, how awful,” said Hermione.
“Oh, it was just teasing, but not very nice. I said if there was any repetition I’d see he was docked House points.”
“I’ll be able to take points,” mused Harry.
“Well, don’t be like Snape about it,” said Hermione firmly.
“Did he ever give points to Gryffindor because you gave the right answer?” asked Harry.
“Oh, once, I think. Usually he managed to find a way to take some off because I didn’t say ‘sir’ or something like that.” Hermione shook her head.
“I know he was a hero in the end, but whenever I remember being in his class I just get angry,” said Harry.
“Well, it would only be fair if you did give extra points to Gryffindor,” said Ginny. “It would make up for all the thousands he stole from us over the years.”
“Ginny! He can’t do that!” protested Hermione.
“No, I suppose not,” said Harry wistfully. He wasn’t at all sure how he would deal with awarding points, though. Just another part of being a Hogwarts professor that made him feel as if he couldn’t possibly cope.