Apologies and Promises
As the water lapped against the stony beach, Harry watched the sun dip behind the surrounding mountains, and finally moved to get up. However, he was stopped by a gentle female voice cooing his name.
'Harry?' He turned, wiping his eyes as he did, and saw Elizabeth standing tentatively a few feet behind him. 'Hey,' she added breathily, smiling sadly, hands clasped in her lap.
'Hi,' Harry sniffed in response, trying in vain to hide his tears. 'What're you… what're you doing out here?'
'Looking for you,' she replied slowly, moving towards him. 'I thought that… that we could talk.'
'Sure,' Harry replied. 'I guess.'
'Let's not begin this again,' she sighed, leaning her shoulder against the tree, and looking out over the water. A silence stretched between them, and she sighed again. 'It's beautiful, isn't it?'
'Yeah,' Harry said carefully. 'It's getting cold, though, so I – '
'You've done it again, Harry.'
'Forgotten that there're other people in the world that hurt when you hurt.'
'I'm not in the mood for this, Elizabeth.'
'I know,' she breathed, exhausted, crossing her arms across her chest. 'I just want to be able to help you, and it's hard, sometimes. Especially when you forget that I know how much you're hurting.'
'You don't – '
'I don't? Why don't I, Harry. Why could I not possibly know what you're feeling?' Her words were defensive, but her tone gentle.
'You just… you just don't understand.'
There was a silence, where the sound of the water was the only thing between them.
'I was seven when my parents died, Harry,' she murmured, 'and when they told me I couldn't live with Remus because he was an unfit guardian. And I was eight when I saw your parents – my new parents – murdered, and when they took Sirius away in front of me telling me he had murdered them, and when they told me I wouldn't be able to see you for Merlin knows how long. It was two years that I woke up every night, screaming in pain because of the cruelty Voldemort… because of what he did to me.' She paused, sniffed, and continued softly, 'How could you say for a moment that I don't know how much it hurts?'
'Because,' Harry replied, his conviction wavering, 'you still haven't… you don't know what it's like living with a family who despises you and who… who ignored you and malnourished you…'
'No, Harry, I don't.' She paused. 'But you don't know what it's like living with a group of adults who are not your parents, and who spend most of their time with other children, never having a home to go to in the summers, never having a family.' In response to his angry noise, she responded quietly, 'Yes, Harry. They're still your family, no matter how you feel about them. They still took you in. Me? I had no one.' She waited for his rebuttal, but it never came. 'So does that mean that I don't hurt, Harry? Does it mean that I don't cry for the loss of the every real family I've ever known? For all the people I knew and loved who've died? Aren't I allowed to feel alone?'
'No, I didn't mean that.'
She lifted her weight off the tree and moved towards the water. 'Then what did you mean, Harry?'
''I…' Seeing her silhouetted against the water and dark sky, stars surrounding her, Harry wondered at his adopted sister. There was still so much about her that he didn't know. Even with everything he had learned from others, she was still something of a blank slate. 'You… it really hurts, doesn't it?'
'What really hurts?' She sounded tired; vulnerable.
'Not… not being able to get through to me.' He paused. 'I'm sorry.'
She let out a wet-sounding laugh and replied, 'Harry, you have nothing to be sorry for. It takes time to grow, and as much as you'll hate me for telling you this, you're still a child. You still have a lot to learn before you'll truly understand.' She turned back slightly and laughed over her shoulder, 'At the risk of sounding like a parent, I just want to make the transition as easy as I possibly can for you.' Here she turned back, and began to slowly make her way back to the castle.
'Elizabeth?' Harry called, standing, and jogging over to her.
'Yes?' she replied, turning back to face him fully.
'Thank you. For, you know. Everything.' He put his arms around her, and felt her shoulders shake slightly in the cold evening air... or with a hysteria he hadn't noticed before he held her.'You're my brother, Harry,' she muttered gently, mirroring his action. 'I'll be here no matter how much trouble you cause.'