At the Edge of Hope by Carrie
Summary: *** The author has been reminded via the e-mail address on file that this story is listed as incomplete and has not been updated since 2004 ***
As time goes by, you have to wonder: Is there any hope left for Harry? (Set in Harry's last year.)
At the Edge of Hope by Carrie
Chapter 1: Chapter 1Author's Notes:
To-morrow, and to-morrow, and to-morrow,
Creeps in this petty pace from day to day,
To the last syllable of recorded time;
And all our yesterdays have lighted fools
The way to dusty death. Out, out, brief candle!
Life's but a walking shadow; a poor player,
That struts and frets his hour upon the stage,
And then is heard no more: it is a tale
Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury,
At some point, you have to decide. At first you can only see where things get you superficially, but the deeper meaning of your actions won’t be clear for several days, months, years. It’s not a matter of if it’ll happen, it’s a matter of when. For some people the event will be barely recognized, others will have it crashing down making them double over with its weight… But nonetheless, the events will change their lives forever.
Harry Potter, for example. For the longest time he was just a boy. A boy raised by his relatives. No boy was more ordinary. Then one day in July, his life changed. He did choose to leave his relatives behind, did choose to go with a stranger… into an unknown future. Now, of course, he always was a hero known by a world full of wonder… known by the world of wizards… but he didn’t know it…. And if he had refused that giant coming to the hut on a stormy summer night… he’d have never met his true destiny. He wouldn’t have met people who cared for him, loved him… He wouldn’t have met his godfather, wouldn’t have seen him die… Harry Potter wouldn’t have known that an evil named Lord Voldemort existed… He wouldn’t have cared… That he was what wanted.
Another example is Ginny Weasley. She had a wonderful childhood. Loving parents, teasing brothers who loved her anyway. They cared for her, they protected her…. She didn’t have to fear anything. Then one day during summer break it all changed. She found an empty book among her school things… It was before her first year attending the school of her dreams… The book had caught her interest the first time she had seen it. It was enchanting…. Pretty… not really girly… but manly… she knew it was perfection. Her mother must have given it to her, but before she had written anything in it… she decided to pretend it was Harry Potter’s. It was his and she was blessed to write into it. She did choose to open the book… to write her secrets in it… to share… Blessed? She didn’t think so anymore. The thing was the unforgivable curse on her life. Almost six years later she knew that… A simple childhood fantasy, a stupid game had changed her life… She knew that it was for a reason… A reason that she couldn’t understand just yet… But she was willing to learn….
Two teenagers, the same problem: a haunting history- two solutions. One learning to hate everything having to do with him, the other getting strength from her past. As the days went by at Hogwarts, life got more horrible for everybody- including both of them.
The school was in a constant state of alert, fearing attacks at any moment of the day or night. The reason for this was Voldemort and his army of Death Eaters. Nobody seemed to be safe anymore. Attacks on Muggles, wizards and witches of every age were reported on a daily basis, and it seemed to get worse.
Only a couple of days ago, Ginny and Ron had received a message from their parents that Charlie had been badly wounded while protecting a little village near Edinburgh. She had read the letter so often that she knew every word by heart… Every word, chosen so well… all for protection. Protection for her younger children, but also protection for those who fought. Wizards and witches who were close to the inner circle disappeared quite fast these days. Most of them never returned, and those who did weren’t themselves anymore. Ginny’s heart ached. She knew that her parents knew a lot… too much for their own good…
Her eyes closed, and she curled herself into her chair. She wished she could cry, but the tears didn’t want to come. It was as if they were saving themselves for a more worthy event. And that thought made her feel even more miserable. The portrait opened and Ginny looked up, her hand resting on her wand. She wasn’t the only one…
The laughter and cheerful nights were long gone…. Instead the constant fear, insecurity, mistrust…There wasn’t any voice above a whisper. Ginny looked over to her brother and his friends, and she wondered briefly what they were thinking.
Hermione’s eyes were red from crying… Crying from fear for her parents. Of course Dumbledore had offered all parents of students extra security spells on their houses- especially those families without magic amongst them, and naturally the Grangers had agreed, but Hermione’s fear wasn’t soothed. If anything, she became even more fretful. Now there was magic around them. Before all the spells were activated Hermione’s parents were
Just like the other Grangers. There wasn’t any proof that it were her parents. Now they were marked for when a Death- Eater should suspect them, he’d surely feel the magic around the house.
Ron looked rather disturbed himself, but Ginny wasn’t sure if it was the concern for their family or if it was Hermione who caused his troubled state. His hand kept circling over her back and he whispered softly in her ear. Ginny sighed inwardly. It was clear that those two liked each other a great deal more than could be seen on the surface, but refused to discuss it. Ginny didn’t really understand their reasoning. She herself had talked to both more than once but had come out of it even more confused. It was madness to her; living in a time of a pure Evil, having the love of your life right at your side and not acknowledging the love… She just wished that they would realize soon that every second was important…
Speaking of love and every second, she couldn’t help but focus on Harry Potter. Sitting there, quiet, unapproachable. It was like he wanted to shut the world out. His eyes rested on Hermione and Ron but they looked so… empty… it frightened her, and the shiver that passed through her was almost her undoing. Her eyes lingered and suddenly he looked up… for a second she saw something flicker in them but it was gone just as quickly. He held her gaze and Ginny wondered… wondered if he gave her permission to come closer.
Harry had always had a strange way of dealing with people, but since Sirius’ death and the attack on The Burrow a few months ago, he didn’t let anyone come close anymore… as long as he had any chance of avoiding it at least. If he had to suffer through it, he kept silent and seemed uninterested for most of the time. Harry only allowed himself to suffer in the presence of a teacher or any other adult.
Ginny didn’t know what Hermione and Ron had told him but in the end they had been the only ones allowed to sit with him on a regular basis. Whenever somebody else came too close without reason, Harry got up and left the room… It was unnerving… In the beginning a lot of people, especially Neville, Luna and herself, kept trying it, but he always muttered something under his breath and left. In fear of pushing him into total isolation they all tried to give him hope and strength by just sitting in the same room with him…
But now, Harry didn’t look like he was going to run… She got up and came closer, still ready to return to her spot if his expression changed. It didn’t. She sat down next to Harry, earning an astonished look from both Hermione and Ron, but neither said anything. Harry kept looking at her without saying a word and she wondered what to do… should she stare back? Say something? She felt so confused…
Suddenly she realized that the common room was totally quiet. All attention was on her and Harry… She had to do something…
She searched his eyes, but found no answer in them.
“So Harry…” That was the easy part, she realized in the second she started talking. What was she supposed to say? How are you? What’s new? How have you been? Not quite what you’d ask somebody just trying to open up. Her eyes moved slightly, seeing Neville in the background smiling encouragingly at her. She needed to make this work… not only for her, but also for the sake of Harry and every single friend he had in this school, in this room. If logic wouldn’t work, something else was needed.
“Remember the time when Snape was wearing a dress?” Everybody seemed to gasp. Not only had she talked much more loudly than the, by now, normal background noise, but also what she had said made no sense. She hadn’t even been there when Neville had won his battle over the Boggart, but he had told her about it. He had been worried about it, but when he realized that all of Gryffindor house thought it was hilarious, he had relaxed a bit more. Harry’s eyes went blank and for a terrible minute she thought he’d leave and she would have lost him again… And then his eyes turned a deeper green and his lips switched a bit, and it was as if some of the life returned to Gryffindor.
“Oh, but do you remember the time Malfoy was turned into a ferret?” he answered, making her smile… Oh how she had loved the image from the day Ron had first told her. Malfoy the ferret… How fitting. The pain didn’t leave Harry completely for it was still visible in his eyes for everyone who looked close enough, but he let something go… She didn’t know what it was… at the moment she didn’t care. Seeing Hermione snort was worth it.
Nobody else dared to sit next to Harry, but one by one each person started to tell an embarrassing story about some Slytherin student… And with every little story it was more and more as if, the last three years hadn’t happened… and they were teenagers once more in a world where they were allowed to act their age… The chatter was heard everywhere and soon it wasn’t possible to hear every story anymore… Just laughter.
And then the Portrait Hole opened and Professor McGonagall stood there. The atmosphere changed, the laughter died, and everybody’s gaze was glued on the professor. Ginny could feel Harry stiffen next to her and she wanted to take his shield of sorrow away. It wasn’t his fault, but his features told another story. Whoever was hurt, whoever was dead… Harry would blame himself again.
She could just hope that he wouldn’t tell her to leave him alone once more… She wanted him to open up to Neville as well and to Luna… Of course she knew that she asked too much… but one year had gone by before he had let her come close again… She didn’t have the patience to wait that long before he allowed the others nearer as well… He needed friends… he needed love…
She understood the reason, even without him voicing it aloud: protection. He wanted everybody safe. Probably wanted to make sure that nobody he cared for died again, and for a second Ginny wondered what would happen when he realized not everybody died because of him- like he used to see it. When he realized there were more ways to die than fighting Voldemort… and then she wanted to slap herself… She was being insensitive.
“Hogsmeade is under attack,” Professor McGonagall informed them. “Please stay as calm as possible. No student is allowed to leave the castle.” Her gaze rested on Harry. “Do I make myself clear? You are all to stay within the tower.”
“Professor, do you have news from my brothers?” Ron asked, determined. Fred and George had opened a little store in the village, and Ginny couldn’t help but wonder if it wasn’t all a front, for in her mind her brothers seemed too involved in the Order. For her- and Ron had agreed - they had only bought the shop to keep an closer eye on the students.
“I’m afraid, Mr. Weasley, that we don’t have any contact with the village at the moment.” Ginny gasped, unable to control her fears.
“No need to panic yet.” And McGonagall left without another word.
The younger students cried openly, the older ones doing their best to calm them while feeling their own panic rise. They would be okay, wouldn’t they? Ginny glanced at Harry and almost saw his train of thought. He didn’t give a damn about McGonagall’s explicit order, he wanted out there, wanted to fight his demons. He wanted revenge. Ginny cursed under her breath. Stubborn as he was, he’d probably get his Invisibility Cloak and go anyway…
Some of the students had gathered themselves at the windows to watch with fearful eyes the events in the village. Ginny couldn’t get herself to do so…. And she knew exactly why:
When she had been around ten years old, her father had allowed her to come along to the Ministry and Ginny, bored at home without any of her brothers around, had willingly come along. There was so much to see, so much to do and Ginny was eager to try everything… At some point Ginny had seen an interesting bowl as she had described it to her father, pleaded him to explain how it worked.
“It’s a Pensive,” he’d explained gently. “The Ministry once got them for their employees, so that you can put aside thoughts that would keep you from concentrating.”
“And this is your Pensive?” she had asked, curiosity rising inside her.
“Yes, it is.”
“What kind of thoughts do you keep in there?” Mr. Weasley caught the interest in his daughter’s features and shook his head sadly.
“Nothing that anybody should ever have to see.” She had nodded then, not really understanding what fuss he was making… And then somebody had called for him… and like a miracle she had been alone. Of course she wanted to be the good girl, but she wanted to know… And she leaned over the Pensive, wondering more and more … and suddenly she was pulled inside. She had no idea what happened…
She stood beside her father, and flinched. Surely he’d be angry now. She reached for his hand, but he didn’t even notice her. He was staring at something, somebody, and Ginny’s eyes followed him… Her heart had almost stopped back then… There had been so many hooded people standing in front of them… Besides her father she made out a few faces that had seemed rather familiar to her and she wondered what exactly was about to happen, and then she saw him. She had seen Lord Voldemort the very first time. His red eyes, his long fingers… she shivered, trying to get closer to her dad, hiding her face in his robes, but he couldn’t help her, couldn’t hold her. She wanted to run, but something stopped her. She let herself sink to the floor, her eyes getting teary. What would happen now?
She hugged her knees tightly, hoping that somebody would get her out here, and then somebody yelled something and people started shouting curses. It was so scary. Green light filled the air, mostly coming from the hooded figures, and Ginny knew they were evil… And then her dad screamed and hit the ground next to her. A man lingered over him his wand outstretched and Ginny pressed her eyes shut… She didn’t want to see…
She could hear somebody shouting her dad’s name and she looked up… Dark messy hair, brown eyes… rather tall… he shouted another spell before he helped her father to his feet. There was no time to talk… Ginny could see blood everywhere, and she heard screams… so much pain… Her hands covered her ears, while she herself started to scream violently. She wanted out…
And suddenly her father was sitting next to her, pulling her in the tightest hug ever, taking her back into his office. She was never in her life so relieved and so scared at the same time. She half expected him to scold her, ignoring her tears… but the amazing truth was he didn’t… He rocked her back and forth, telling her how sorry he was…
And then she understood… There really were things that she should never have had to see.
“Ginny?” she heard somebody say. She looked up, and was shocked to realize it was Harry… still sitting next to her.
“Are you okay?” She was about to answer, of course, when she realized she was rocking herself like the day when she was in the middle of a war totally unprepared. She was everything but okay and she wanted to tell somebody. Her voice didn’t work, and then the first sob escaped her… She looked at Ron, seeing he was holding onto Hermione and knew there was only one person close enough now… she crashed against Harry, probably giving him the scare of his life, but he didn’t move away. One arm pressed her insecurely against him… but that was all… and right then it was enough.
Suddenly she heard a first, or second year shout what nobody within these walls ever wanted to hear. “They are attacking Hogwarts!”
A/N: So I finally wrote something on my own again. I’m not sure who must be more amazed: You or me… I need to thank a lot of people now: Anne and Yolanda for beta-ing this and offering their opinions. Liz, for pushing me into writing further when after the first half page I couldn’t think of a way to go anymore. Kat, for telling me that I was indeed still in character, when I thought I crossed the line. Carissa for keeping faith in my writing without actually reading a line, and for suggesting that perfect part from Macbeth. And to Kim, who discussed titles with me and finally modified one of my suggestions, and produced so the perfect title. Once more Carissa, Kat and Carrie for voting and therefore making sure that the title was indeed perfect. Also a big thanks to the wonderful people who reviewed my other stories. I want to dedicate this chapter to Kim, for being a great author, a wonderful co- author and very good friend. Hope you all enjoy.
Disclaimer: All publicly recognizable characters and settings are the property of their respective owners. The original characters and plot are the property of the author. No money is being made from this work. No copyright infringement is intended.
This story archived at http://www.siye.co.uk/siye/viewstory.php?sid=1880