Monday, November 29, 2010

“I care,” said Harry.

“I care,” said Harry. “How do you think I'd feel if this was your funeral ... and it was my fault ...”

She looked away from him, over the lake.

“I never really gave up on you,” she said. “Not really. I always hoped ... Hermione told me to get on with life, maybe go out with some other people, relax a bit

around you, because I never used to be able to talk if you were in the room, remember? And she thought you might take a bit more notice if I was a bit more—myself”

“Smart girl, that Hermione,” said Harry, trying to smile. “I just wish I'd asked you sooner. We could've had ages ... months ... years maybe ...”

“But you've been too busy saving the wizarding world,” said Ginny, half-laughing. “Well ... I can't say I'm surprised. I knew this would happen in the end. I knew

you wouldn't be happy unless you were hunting Voldemort. Maybe that's why I like you so much.”

Harry could not bear to hear these things, nor did he think his resolution would hold if he remained sitting beside her. Ron, he saw, was now holding Hermione and

stroking her hair while she sobbed into his shoulder, tears dripping from the end of his own long nose. With a miserable gesture, Harry got up, turned his back on Ginny

and on Dumbledore's tomb and walked away around the lake. Moving felt much more bearable than sitting still: just as setting out as soon as possible to track down the

Horcruxes and kill Voldemort would feel better than waiting to do it ...


He turned. Rufus Scrimgeour was limping rapidly towards him around the bank, leaning on his walking stick.

“I've been hoping to have a word ... do you mind if I walk a little way with you?”

“No,” said Harry indifferently, and set off again.

“Harry, this was a dreadful tragedy,” said Scrimgeour quietly, “I cannot tell you how appalled I was to hear of it. Dumbledore was a very great wizard. We had our

disagreements, as you know, but no one knows better than I—”

“What do you want?” asked Harry flatly.

Scrimgeour looked annoyed but, as before, hastily modified his expression to one of sorrowful understanding.

“You are, of course, devastated,” he said. “I know that you were very close to Dumbledore. I think you may have been his favourite ever pupil. The bond between the

two of you—”

“What do you want?” Harry repeated, coming to a halt.

Scrimgeour stopped too, leaned on his stick and stared at Harry, his expression shrewd now.

“The word is that you were with him when he left the school the night that he died.”

“Whose word?” said Harry.

“Somebody Stupefied a Death Eater on top of the Tower after Dumbledore died. There were also two broomsticks up there. The Ministry can add two and two, Harry.”

“Glad to hear it,” said Harry. “Well, where I went with Dumbledore and what we did is my business. He didn't want people to know.”

“Such loyalty is admirable, of course,” said Scrimgeour, who seemed to be restraining his irritation with difficulty,” but Dumbledore is gone, Harry. He's gone.”

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