Grazhir :: Harry Potter :: Friendship’s Price :: 15 :: Confessions

15 • Confessions

Harry looked up and set his book aside, smiling once he saw the amount of food Bill was carrying, and dug in immediately once the tray was in place.

“I thought you looked more alert today,” Bill commented.

Harry tapped his temple and nodded. Once he could speak he said, “My head, maybe. I’m still quite tired, though. It’s a bit wearing, this. If I manage to keep fending him off, I’m practically an invalid for two days.

Bill gave him a look that managed to be stern and compassionate at the same time. He pointed his fork at Harry and said, “Don’t even think about giving in. It’s far worse to actually see what’s happening.”

Harry made a slight face, but nodded. “I know. It isn’t as though I want enough practice to not end up like this, either.” Then he remembered what he had done when the headmaster had come to see him and groaned, covering his face with one hand.

“Problem, Harry?”

“Last night—Professor Dumbledore—” he mumbled.

Bill laughed softly. “He was rather touched, actually. And quite proud of you.” Harry peeked out from between his fingers. “Honest. Now come on, eat. Mum says if you seem well enough, you get to have visitors today.”

Harry resumed eating, then asked a minute later, “How’s Moony?”

Bill gave him a quizzical look. “Remus? He’s fine. Still a bit under the weather, but basically all right. Maybe if you’re really good, you can have an afternoon nap with him.”

Harry paused and narrowed his eyes, but that only made Bill laugh again. “You’re almost as bad as Madam Pomfrey.”

“Stop trying to flatter me. Though if you’re really anxious to see him, and he’s up to it, he might be a far better deterrent to boisterousness then I would be around my siblings. You would, of course, have to make room for him.”

“I’m not trying to get rid of you,” Harry protested.

“I know that, Harry. My time off is almost over, though, so I wouldn’t be surprised if you had Remus stalking you through the corridors just to keep an eye on you.”

Harry shrugged and continued eating. It was several minutes before he set down his fork with a quiet sigh and gave Bill a serious look. “Be honest with me. Do I want to know what happened?”

Bill gave him a serious look in return. “I think, based on what I learned of it, no. I am exceptionally grateful that you managed to hold the bastard off. You’ve already seen enough death, Harry. Seeing how many ways it can be accomplished won’t do you any good.”

“That bad?”

“Yes.”

“All right. Thank you for not patting me on the head and telling me to go play or something equally silly.”

Bill nodded. “Finish eating while I go start a bath and find you a proper set of pajamas. If you’re still awake after that, I’ll see about getting Remus in here, okay?”

Forty five minutes later, Harry was making room for Remus in his bed, and Bill was announcing that he was off to take a bath of his own and would be back a bit later on. He left, quietly closing the door behind him. Harry snuggled up to the person he now considered his godfather and asked, “Are you all right?”

“I think I’m the one who should be asking you that,” was the response.

“They told you, huh? I’m fine, honest. Just really tired. I didn’t see anything.”

“And that’s something to be grateful for.”

“That’s what Bill said.”

“Bill has always had his head screwed on straight, Harry. And yes, I’m fine, just a bit queasy.”

“Thank you for the book, Moony. I really like it.”

“You’re welcome. I thought you might like to see the other side of the equation.”

“I think they helped me—keep him away, I mean.”

“Pardon?”

“Bill and Mrs Weasley. After the second time he got into bed behind me and held me. I could feel his heartbeat like I feel yours now. And Mrs Weasley kept putting her hand to my forehead and it felt nice and cool. They didn’t talk—I find that distracting.”

“Were you able to tell Albus this?”

Harry shook his head. “No, I hugged him instead. I wasn’t quite myself at the time.”

Remus chuckled and dropped a kiss on Harry’s head. “So you can tell him later. Do you think your friends could help the same way?”

“Don’t know. Do you think the same thing’s going to happen at Easter?”

“I hope not, but I guess it would be foolish to deny it could happen. It’s also three months away, so try not to think about it just yet. Malfoy hasn’t been any trouble?”

“Not that I can tell. He gave us a really weird look on the train, but since he didn’t say anything or hang around, we just shrugged it off.”

“Well, don’t get too complacent. I don’t trust that kid.”

Harry changed the subject again. “Seamus sent me a present, isn’t that nice? I felt awful ‘cause I didn’t send him anything, but he put a note in with it saying it was because I’d been so nice and not to worry about it.”

“How do you feel about Seamus?”

“He’s nice. But I don’t like him.”

“Is there anyone you do like?”

“I’m not sure,” said Harry carefully. “And no, Martin doesn’t count.”

“All right. Is there anyone you want to talk about?”

“I’m not sure,” Harry repeated slowly. “There’s one person I’ve been seeing kind of differently. But really, I have no idea what his preferences are.”

“And you aren’t too keen right now on asking, right?”

“Not really.” Harry shook his head against Remus’s chest.

“So, back to your friends. They may or may not be able to help.”

“I don’t know. Maybe it was because Bill is so much older. I felt safe, you know? Like he wasn’t going to let go. He stayed with me all night, though I didn’t know it ‘til the next morning.”

“I suppose I can see why your friends would not be quite the same,” Remus said, somewhat vaguely. “While I wish we could figure this out now, I’m not sorry we can’t.”

Harry yawned. “I guess I don’t know how to feel about that. If you were there, I wouldn’t be worried.”

“That might be possible.”

Harry felt Remus begin to stroke his hair, and closed his eyes to better concentrate on the sensations. He never realized when it was that he fell asleep. The smell of food woke him some time later, causing him to open his eyes slowly and shift. A moment later his glasses appeared and were slipped onto his face.

“Albus came while you were napping,” Remus said softly, “so I passed on what you said. Are you hungry? Bill brought in a tray for us.”

“Mm.” Harry tightened his hold on Remus for a moment, then relaxed. “Yeah.” He let go reluctantly and sat up. Remus laid his book aside and grabbed his wand, then levitated the tray over so they could both reach it. Harry let out a small sigh and reached for a sandwich.

“You okay?”

“I guess.” Harry bit into his sandwich and chewed thoughtfully. “I’m just worried about Hermione.”

“Well, Bill says you get visitors this afternoon, and you can take them in whatever order you want, but only one at a time.”

Harry nodded and took another bite. After he finished the sandwich he reached for another and said, “Ginny first, then, I think.”

“Any particular reason?”

“She already knows about me,” he said and shrugged.

“I don’t suppose you’d tell me how that came about?” Remus asked gently.

“She figured it out. Something about how I kept using non-gender specific terminology around her. Of course, I’ve been spending so much time around her that Hermione thinks we’re seeing each other.”

Remus chuckled. “Well, we’ll just tell Bill that, then, when he comes back.”

And back he came, not long after they had finished eating. Bill swept into the room whistling cheerfully and grabbed the tray, pausing when Harry called out to him. “Bill, can you have Ginny come up, please?”

Bill smiled and nodded. “Sure thing, Harry,” he said, then swept back out the door. A short time later the door opened and Ginny poked her head around the frame with a nervous smile.

“All right, Harry? Sir?”

“Come on in, Ginny, and close the door.” Harry waved his hand in a beckoning motion, then smiled when she was fully inside. “A chair or the bed, it’s up to you.” She chose the bed, plopping down on the edge at the far end. “Why do you look so nervous?” Harry asked, head cocked to the side.

“It’s, er. . . .” Ginny shot a quick, hesitant glance at Remus before looking back at Harry.

“He already knows, if that’s what you’re worried about.” A look of relief swept over her face, but she continued to look nervous, absently playing with the duvet cover. “Ginny? Whatever it is, please just tell me? You’re making me nervous.”

Ginny sighed and looked up at him. “I want you to know it was all very spur of the moment, Harry. I swear. I promised you I’d never tell, and I haven’t, but—” She broke off with another sigh. “Right, I’ll just start at the beginning, okay?”

“Okay,” Harry agreed, exchanging a look with Remus.

“Things were all right at first, but then, the presents arrived. Hermione noticed that one came for you from Seamus.” Ginny frowned and looked away for a moment. “She—things didn’t go so well after that, and—I’m sorry, Harry, but you know I have a bit of a temper.”

Harry grinned rather foolishly and nodded. “Go on, please.”

“She started mumbling again, muttering, and I sort of dragged her off a bit later and let her have it.” Ginny took a deep breath and continued, “I spelled it out pretty clear for her, I think. I started talking, not about Seamus, but about the house-elves at Hogwarts. I asked her if she knew that the only elf that’ll come into our tower was Dobby. If she knew that she’d driven all of them away by persisting in her foolishness in trying to leave clothing out for them. If she even understood that her efforts were in vain because she isn’t their master or mistress. She likes to think that she’s been helping them, but really, she has no idea what’s going on. She hasn’t bothered to look past her own immediate perceptions and actually research them like she does with most everything else. She’s persecuting them in her misguided efforts to do them her version of kindness.”

Harry nodded and said, “And how does this connect to Seamus?”

“Ah, that’s easy, Harry. Once I got that across to her, and pointed out that Dobby only comes because he adores you, I moved on to the real point. She’s doing something of the same thing to Seamus. She’s been persecuting him for simply being who he is, or what he is, depending on how you want to look at it. I told her that she’s been applying her personal prejudices against someone who’s never done her any harm, and forgetting that there’s a very real person standing there, someone with feelings. She got rather thoughtful looking at that point, so I left.”

Remus chuckled. “You appealed to her sense of logic and fair play. Well done, Ginny. I hope it has some effect.”

“You aren’t angry, are you, Harry?”

Harry shook his head. “No, how could I be? She’s not just my friend, and I shouldn’t be the only one to try and make her see how she’s been acting. That would be sort of selfish on my part, I suppose.”

Ginny grinned and edged further onto the bed. “By the way, thank you very much for the necklace! It’s gorgeous, Harry.”

“You’re welcome. I thought it would look nice on you. And thank you for the book. Are you tired of seeing me lose all the time?” Harry asked archly.

Ginny smirked slightly. “Maybe. It would be nice to see Ron be the one to lose now and again.”

“Thanks,” Harry said quietly.

“For what?”

“For not asking how I feel,” Harry supplied with a small smile. “Did your mum like the cloak?”

Ginny rolled her eyes. “Absolutely. At least, after she got over how much it must have cost. And it looks very nice on her. She’s quite thrilled with it.”

“And your dad?”

Ginny laughed. “Oh, yes. He was overjoyed with that book. Even more so than what you got him last year. Imagine! Who would have thought there would be a book that explained how muggle things work?”

Harry smiled fondly, pleased that his gifts had been so well received. They talked for another ten or fifteen minutes before Remus cleared his throat.

“I think perhaps it’s time for someone else to have a turn and visit. Hopefully we’ll both be up and about tomorrow.”

Ginny nodded and scooted forward to plant a small kiss on each of their cheeks, then slipped off the bed and out the door. Bill poked his head inside inquiringly.

“Neville, please,” said Harry.

Bill nodded and disappeared, and several minutes later Neville sidled in. “Hi, Harry. Professor.” Harry gave the duvet a pat and smiled along with Remus. Neville shuffled closer and sat down gingerly, a tentative smile on his face.

Harry glanced at Remus, then back at Neville. “What is it with people coming in here all nervous?” Harry asked, almost to himself. “Did something happen?”

Neville blinked and smiled sheepishly. “Sort of.”

Harry fiddled with his hair and shifted, ending up with his head resting on Remus’s chest. “Ginny said she kind of had a talk with Hermione,” he said casually.

Neville brightened slightly. “Er, so did I,” he said, then dropped his gaze.

“Do you feel like telling me about it? You don’t have to, of course, Neville.”

“I think I should. I just hope you don’t get angry.”

Harry sighed. “Neville, aren’t we good enough friends that you know I’ll hear you out? Besides, I can’t imagine with what I know of you that you’d deliberately set out to upset me.”

Neville looked up and at him with more confidence, then shifted his gaze to Remus.

“I asked Moony to be my godfather,” Harry said quietly. “Which reminds me—Moony’s taught me a revealing spell that I’ll teach you later. That way we won’t have to have the map to know it’s all right to leave the room.” Harry arched a brow meaningfully as Neville’s brows rose in surprise.

“However,” Remus cut in, “I made Harry promise something.”

“Oh?”

“He is not to go into that room without you, all right? I know you got him out of there once already when he had an attack, and since only the two of you know about the place, you need to be there when he is. Harry has promised me he won’t use it unless you can be with him.”

Neville’s brows rose even further, then dropped as he smiled. “All right. Thank you for the book, Harry.”

Harry grinned and said, “I just hope you let me borrow it. I’ve been dying to find out more about eagles since you conjured your patronus! And I love the book you got me. Maybe we can work on that together?”

Neville cast another quick look at Remus, then smiled at Harry. “What if neither of us can do it?”

Harry rocked slightly when Remus poked him in the ribs and turned to stare at him indignantly. “What?”

“Do what?” Remus asked with an arched brow and a steady gaze.

“Oh. Neville bought me a book on animagi.”

“Prongs Jr?”

Harry snorted and lifted his chin. “I very much doubt I’d be a stag, Moony. And, I’d like my own nickname, thank you very much.”

“Mm. We’ll see, I suppose. If either of you have any trouble with it, let me know. I may not be able to do it myself, but I can try and help. I assume you’re going to be sneaky about this?”

“You won’t tell, will you?” Harry widened his eyes and tried to look pathetic.

“Considering that I think you’d be doing it for good reason, such as having an advantage that nobody knew about, no. I won’t mention it to anyone. Were you planning on including Ron and Hermione?”

Harry pondered that for a minute. A glance at Neville showed no particular answers. “I don’t know. I suppose so.”

Remus sighed slightly. “Okay, why don’t you explain to me why you’re hesitant, hm?”

Harry rubbed his forehead, then his eyes. “Ron has sort of a big mouth at times, Moony. He blurts things out occasionally, you know? But I think he’d keep this quiet.”

Remus pulled Harry into a sideways hug and said, “All right. Though, considering if you were caught at it, you could be punished by the Ministry. I think he’d have enough incentive to keep it a secret. What about Hermione? Or Ginny, for that matter?”

“Please don’t think less of me—I feel guilty enough already. I feel so resentful sometimes about Hermione. I love her like a sister, but there are times when I just want to shove things in her face and prove I can do quite well without all that nagging. And then the whole thing with Seamus. . . .”

“I can understand that, but I don’t think it should necessarily colour the decision, Harry. Nothing says you have to decide right away, at any rate. You and Neville can have fun going over the book for the time being.”

“Well . . . I’m also worried that she’d turn around and spill on us. You know how she’s always so incredibly sure that authority is always right.”

“And you and Ron have managed to loosen her up a lot, too.”

“Yeah. I just won’t decide yet.”

“Feel her out on the subject. If she reacts badly, then don’t bring it up again.”

Harry nodded and gave Neville a sheepish smile. “Sorry, didn’t mean to ignore you.”

Neville had lost almost all of the tension he had entered with, but not entirely. “I think I’ll tell you about my conversation with Hermione.” Harry nodded, so Neville went on. “It’s nothing much, just that after I saw how she reacted to the present Seamus sent, I got a little mad. I found her a while later and asked her if she’d even read the book she got for you this summer about customs and traditions. I thought it was a bit odd that she’s been so insistent on you learning them when she’s been totally ignoring how we live and how the wizarding world regards homosexuality.”

Harry blinked and tilted his head to the side, unsure of what to say.

“She was already rather pensive when I found her, but she became really quiet after I said what I did. I mean, she’s persecuting someone based on muggle standards. I guess that’s what they are. And she’s persecuting someone who’s a half-blood, someone who is grounded to a degree in our world. I didn’t think that was very fair, so I told her that.” Neville gave a one-shoulder shrug and traced a pattern on the duvet with a forefinger.

Remus shifted slightly, pulling Harry closer. “That makes sense, Neville. I’m a half-blood, and I certainly learned plenty about custom and tradition growing up. You may not need to go talk to her, Harry. She may come to you.”

“Hn. Maybe. Thanks, Neville. So, what have you guys been doing while we’ve been stuck recovering?”

Neville happily launched into a description of the rooms they’d been working on to pass the time, and that took them through another fifteen or twenty minutes. He only stopped because Bill poked his head in through the door. After Neville left, Bill told Remus and Harry in a rather stern voice to take a nap, getting back twin looks of scorn for his troubles.

Nap they did, however, for several hours.