With or Without You
“Ron! Ronald, where is your trunk? We are going to be late!”
Ron Weasley trips down the twisted staircase of the Burrow, lugging his barely shut trunk behind him. “Sorry, mum. I couldn’t get it to close.”
“Oh, for goodness sake,” mutters Molly Weasley as she pulls out her wand and enchants ropes to wrap around the suitcase. “Now, go. Ginny, Harry and Hermione are outside with Kingsley and they’ve been waiting for you. I’ll be out there in a second to see you off.”
Ron smiles in gratitude then began struggling to pull the trunk for a few steps, eventually he gives up and levitates it out.
Outside Harry and Ginny are talking to Kingsley by the car that would drive them to London as Hermione leans against it trying to tie her hair up. “Oh, there you are! We were about to go looking for you.” Hermione smiles, letting her hair fall. “What took so long?”
“This bloody thing won’t close. You’d think I’d be good at packing lightly by now,” Ron laughs. “But I think I’m overcompensating.” Hermione’s smile fades slightly but she chuckles anyway.
Molly comes outside then holding four tupperware boxes full of sandwiches, apple slices and sweets. “Okay, I didn’t have a chance to label them so you’ll have to figure out which box is yours.” Harry and Ginny join Ron and Hermione to collect their lunches each saying thank you.
“Okay, into the car now,” Molly directs. “Thank you so much Kingsley for taking them, it would have been chaos at King’s Cross.”
“It’s my pleasure, Molly.” Kingsley nods to her. “But we must go.”
“Draco! Draco, take Teddy for a second won’t you? We can’t be late.”
Draco takes the baby into his arms holding him close to his chest. “I’ve put my trunk into the car already Aunt. We’ll be fine.”
“Okay, okay. It’s just we have to avoid the crowds.”
“And you know we can’t drive too fast through the country, we’d never get Teddy to sleep!”
“And I still haven’t made you any lunch yet.”
“Aunty … Aunty! We’ll be fine. We can just pick something up in muggle London.”
Upon hearing this Andromeda’s shoulders drop. “You’re right. It’ll be much quicker,” she admits. “But, it’s muggle London? Are you sure?”
“Positive. We can go to a … b-burger ... place?”
“Oh, Draco. Each day you improve.” Andromeda smiles. “Okay, let’s get into the car. Put Teddy in the car seat, we can listen to that U2 song you like on repeat.”
When Kingsley, Ginny, Hermione, Ron and Harry arrive at King’s Cross there are no reporters in the muggle carpark.
“A representative from Platform 9 ¾ will come to escort us onto the platform. They’ve set up an alternate entrance.” Kingsley informs them. “I think that is her now.”
A middle aged woman with brown skin approached the car as they step out. “Good morning, my name is Mrs. Lily Schneider. If you’d follow me to the platform, thank you.”
It was strange to be back at Platform 9 ¾, which looked as it always had. It looked as though nothing had happened. Like they would get on the train and bump into Neville looking for something; Lavender and Parvati reading muggle tarot cards and comparing them to magic ones; Malfoy, Crabbe, and Goyle being horrible just because they were bullies and nothing else …
“So, Mrs Schneider has moved your trunks onto the train,” Kingsley says. “This is where I must leave you. Have a good term.” He shook hands with them all and left.
“Well,” sighs Ginny. “This is it. Come on, let’s find a compartment at the back of the eighth year carriage.” She reaches for Harry’s hand to pull him behind her.
“What do you think it’ll be like?” Pansy asked. “For us?”
Draco shifts to make himself more comfortable without shoving Pansy’s head off his shoulder. “I don’t think it’s going to be good. But Aunt Andromeda told me the prefects and staff have been instructed to watch out for us.”
Pansy scoffs and rubs her nose on his collar. “I can see the teachers helping, maybe, but the prefects? Never. I reckon even the Slytherin prefects would rather die than look partial to us. I don’t blame them.”
Draco nods. “I suppose all we can do is try to look out for eac-”
Their compartment door slides open with a bang and in the doorway stands Ginny Weasley, Ron Weasley, Hermione Granger, and Harry Potter.
Pansy lifts her head of Draco’s shoulder and places her hand over her pocket but Draco stands, placing himself between the Gryffindors and Pansy. For a few moments no one says anything.
“What are you doing here, Malfoy?” Ron glowers.
“I’m not sure if you bothered to read the papers about the trial, Mr Weasley, but I’m on probation.” Draco mutters. Harry looks up, surprised at the formal address but no one else seems to notice. “Which means it is required for me to attend this year at Hogwarts and then to do community service at the Ministry of Magic for two years.”
Ginny nods, “Fair enough. But what about her?”
Pansy’s looks at Ginny right in the eyes. “I’m here for Draco.” After another intense staring match Ginny shrugs, “Fair enough.”
“So, if we are quite done here.” Draco turns to sit down before he is pulled back. He stumbles slightly but flips around to see Ron glaring at him, his chest heaving.
“Ron, stop it.” Hermione warned.
“You think you can just come back here ... after all you’ve done … and act so entitled!” Ron spits. Harry looks down at his feet.
“No, Miss Granger. Mr Weasley is right,” Draco looks right at Ron. “Old habits die hard. I apologise."
Ron steps back and Hermione looks shocked, Ginny smirks. Harry doesn’t look up. “Let’s just go,” he mutters.
“Sorry, Harry what was that?” Hermione asks.
“Let’s go.” He says more firmly. Harry walks out, quickly followed by Ginny. Hermione grabs Ron’s arm and pulls him out of the compartment.
Draco slumps into his seat beside Pansy. “What are we going to do if they won’t even help us?”
“Draco, I have no idea.”
“You shouldn’t have come to Hogwarts, it's not safe.”
“Never suggest that again. I fucked up before but I’m not leaving you now.”
“Harry … are you ok?”
Harry had been staring out of the window onto the platform, watching it fill with families, for thirty minutes. “Yeah, Ginny. I’m fine.”
“Okay, damn. Harry, we’re going to have a talk.” Ginny demands stepping out of the compartment. Harry knows it would be easiest to just follow her. Get it over with.
Ginny leads him into an empty compartment a few doors down from where they left Hermione and Ron. She sits down by the window and gestures for Harry to sit beside her.
“Harry. If you don’t want to be with me you have to just say it.” Her voice doesn’t shake. “I’m not going to cry. You have barely spoken to me since May. Hell, you haven’t even spoken to anybody! You’re not ‘fine’.”
Harry stares at her left hand then grabs it with his right. “I do want to be with you Gin. I lo-”
“Oh, Harry, don’t pretend. It’s not going to be the end of the world. We’ve technically not been together for almost two years now. I’ll be fine.” Ginny exhales. “The question is, are you fine? Because it doesn’t seem like you are.”
Harry pulls his hand out of Ginny’s and finally lets his shoulders drop. His face relaxes into an expression of permanent exhaustion. “Of course I’m not fine Ginny. But I’m so confused about everything. People have all these expectations, that I’m going to be the golden hero. I don’t even know what that means.” Harry sighs, “I just wanted to be Harry.”
“Ignore them, Harry!” Ginny stands in front of him. “Everybody will expect something from you no matter what life you live. No matter if you were the Chosen One or not. So, what do you say to them? Fuck ‘em. That’s what. Because you’ve gone through too much for anything else to get in the way of your happiness. Just do what makes you happy. And gosh there’s already been so much hate and sadness, gods know we all deserve to be happy.”