Hannah is waiting for Susan on the train as always but this year she is playing with her hands and biting her lip while moving nervously from one foot to the other. Susan moves past her and into the safety of the compartment without saying a word, levitating her trunk up onto the wrack, before shoving her wand back into her pocket and turning to her best friend with a sigh.
“I’m so sorry, Susie,” is all that Hannah can say before Susan is in her arms, bawling, and shaking all over. No one she knows has seen Susan since Voldemort murdered her aunt and Hannah is not sure what to say. She doesn’t even know where Susan has been or where she was when it happened, how she found out. All she knows is that her aunt Amelia was all Susan had left and now she is gone too.
“Everyone is going to talk aren’t they?” Susan asks as they settle into their seats, pulling out a tissue to wipe at her cheeks. “Oh, it is going to be awful. I don’t want to talk about it. I’ve done nothing but talk about it since. I’ve had to deal with Goblins, reporter, solicitors and officials and…oh, I’m so tired.”
“I can’t imagine how you feel,” Hannah remarks automatically, the words slipping out because they are expected, normal, proper. Susan nods slightly, also automatically, and Hannah wonders how many times she has heard that over the summer, how many people she has never met have tried to comfort her on the loss of her aunt, sent pitying glances.
“They all say she was wonderful, you know. As if I don’t know that,” Susan says bitterly. “Wonderful indeed, but not wonderful enough to get out alive. He’s too strong, Han. We need to get better. We need to train and learn to defend ourselves better. He is taking out Aurors left, right and centre and people go missing every day. How do we stand a chance if she didn’t?”
“You can’t think like that,” Hannah mutters after a tense and silent few seconds. “You just can’t. No one can predict the future, or, at least not everyone. We are training and we will get better but I guess…well…he’s different isn’t he?”
“Maybe. Maybe we just need to stop thinking that and stop being afraid. That is what Harry Potter said, isn’t it?” Susan asks passionately. “Fear of a name and all that. We can get stronger, better, more efficient. I’m sure that Harry will keep the DA going.”
“You don’t know that either.”
Susan turns and scowls at her friend, “He must! I mean, he can’t not! We need him!”
“If he doesn’t want to then he won’t. All those things in the paper this year, I mean, what if he just doesn’t want to deal with more attention? They say he is the Chosen One.”
“But we need him.” Susan repeats, glancing down at the floor and then back up at Hannah. “We need to know what to do. He just…blew her away Hannah. My aunt was amazing and the photos from the scene and…he just blew her away.”
“There was nothing you could have done Susie,” Hannah say softly, everything hitting her rather violently at once. “Not even training from Harry would have let you save her. I know we shouldn’t be afraid of his name but…he’s still Voldemort. He is still dangerous.”
“No! Don’t go there, Susan. It won’t bring her back and it won’t help you,” Hannah cries, pulling Susan close as the older girl dissolves into tears once more.
“Everyone will be talking. I don’t know what to say! I feel so guilty and hurt and sad and afraid! There are s-so many emotions and I c-can’t deal with them all, I just can’t!”
“You’re not alone. You don’t need to go through this alone. I’m here and I will help you,” Hannah says, rubbing Susan’s back softly. Ernie enters the compartment, Justine behind him as the train pulls out but they stay quiet, offering silent support for Susan who blushes when she notices the audience.
“Promise me you’ll stay with me?”