We've heard vaguely about this person or that being mysteriously attacked. Everyone knows it's him. But no one's going to adknowledge it out loud. Certainly not the Ministry, that's for sure. My parents talk about it when they think I can't hear. I understand their wish to protect me, but I wish they'd let me know, especially when it involves my friends. I didn't hear about the death of Colin and his poor brother until Dumbledore's announcement at the beginning of the year. They had a Muggle funeral over the summer, and I have yet to pay my respects. It may be a very long time before I can; my parents won't be letting me wander freely anytime soon. While everyone else in Gryffindor except Hermione, who insisted on staying with Ron and Harry, hurried home for the holidays to be with their families before they too were killed, mum and dad wrote to urge us to stay at Hogwarts, where it was safe.
Fred and George left anyway. They're spending the holidays in Diagon Alley, looking for a place to rent to start their joke shop. I'm not sure if mum and dad know, but every day I worry for their safety.
So it's just me, Ron, Hermione, and of course Harry. Who don't want me to be alone, so I'm now more in their company than I've ever been before.
Ron and Hermione are playing chess. The chess pieces are another thing quieter than they've ever been, as if sensing the heaviness of our world. Harry and I are watching, sitting across from each other. I'm glad I've stopped blushing around him, though my feelings for him haven't decreased at all. If anything, they've increased.
I remember during my first year, I would often pull myself out of bed with the thought that I could see Harry at the breakfast table. Later, when Tom took control of me, I would pull myself out of bed with the thought of writing to him. But after I realised what he was, I would once again use thoughts of Harry to get up, and now I really needed them, as I was shaken, guilty, and after I stole the diary back, downright terrified and wanting to just pull the sheets over me and never crawl out.
There are mornings now where the same thing happens. I'm once again terrified, that I'll walk out of my dorm and the Dark Lord will be standing there, or that even Tom will be. But then I'll think about seeing Harry, and I'll be up and getting dressed.
Neither of us are paying attention to the chess game. His mind seems to be very far away. He got a letter from Sirius yesterday. He was surprised when I revealed that I knew Sirius Black was innocent, as I'd overheard mum telling dad, but happy. So now he lets me read them along with Ron and Hermione. He had a narrow escape from the Magical Law Enforcement, and Harry's still worried sick.
When Harry worries, I worry. After all, I either love him, or at least feel something pretty close to it. I want him to be happy. I know that's kind of impossible right now, but there's no harm in wanting it. And if he can't be happy, I still wish he wasn't this upset.
I don't want to think about what would happen if Sirius was killed, or any of us. By "us," I don't just mean me Ron, Hermione, or myself either. I mean Fred or George, or Percy, or Bill, or Charlie, or mum or dad. Or Neville. Or Seamus or Dean, or any of Hermione's dormmates. I've seen how each of his classmates look to Harry now. They're all scared, and they seem to think he's the only one who can save them. Just like I do. And he knows this, and feels responsible. He didn't take Colin and Dennis' death too well, and I know he considered Colin a nuisance. I'd be angry, but I can see how he regrets it, and I have to forgive him. I'd probably have to forgive him anyway; my feelings for him are like that. Another death and I'm scared he'd lose it.
"Checkmate!" Ron's triumphant yell breaks the silence. Hermione resignedly beckons to the pieces she borrowed from Harry. Ron said she should get her own chess pieces, and I know he'd buy her a set if he could afford it. I don't think she needs it though. She uses Harry's piece more then he does now, to the point that they obediently trot up to her the way they never have to him. I can't remember the last time Harry even played.
"Should do some reading." Hermione headed for the armchair where she left her Arithmancy test.
"I'll put these away," Ron replies. He's gone.
I get up and move to the couch. To my surprise, Harry joins me. Before I know it, we're leaning on each other, staring at the decorations on the walls.
He's tired. That was something I didn't realise before, and should have too. He's leaning on me for support, and he feels so heavy and limp.
Ron raises his eyes when he returns, but then he shrugs it off. He understands that we do what we need to do. And when Hermione puts her book down to sit next to us with him, he certainly understands.
There's a tapping at the window. It's one of the school owls, carrying a letter which would be from Sirius. Hedwig no longer resents us not using her for those, in fact she's probably grateful, as she's constantly carrying letters to and from us from and to everyone who knows You-Know-Who's returned, and wants constant assurances that we're still alive, to assure us that they are.
Harry leaps up and runs to the window. We all watch as he returns, reading as he goes. And slowly, he starts to grin. I feel myself grow warmer.
"Good news?" Ron asks.
"Guess so," replies Harry. He sits down, and leans back into me, giving me a good view of the letter as he reads it out loud.
I'm back at that place where you visited me last year. It's a bit cold here, but I'm casting constant warming spells, and they keep very well in this abode. Don't worry about me being lonely; there's always the hippogriff, and Remus said he'll see if he can visit.
You don't mind if when I get my name cleared (the minute we catch Wormtail we'll have a case) and you come and live with me, if Remus lives with us too? Because the way things are going now, I think that might happen.
Though who knows, by the time that happens, you might already be grown and ready to live on your own, maybe even married. Speaking of girls, I very much wish I could meet this Ginny you've talked so often about in your letters. You talk about her much the same way James talked about Lily.
Try not to worry about things you can't do anything about, Harry. I know its hard, and if I was in your place, I wouldn't be able to worry about anything I could do anything about, but you have to keep yourself together.
We lapse back into silence. True, there are things concerning me that I now have to think about, but it doesn't seem appropriate to speak of them now. For now, I'm just happy, that, even if for only a short time, Harry is happy as well.