I own nothing, thank you for reading this far anyways!
Jerry and Henry had been unlikely best friends, mused Harry. Their fathers had been close friends and business associates before the war. Even though Jerry was two years older than Henry, and not the same age as Harry had first assumed, the two boys had spent a lot of time together grown thick as thieves. Jerry got a lot of flack from the kids his age for hanging out with "little kids", but he just flipped them off and carried right on spending time with Henry. He'd once gotten in a fist fight with Carl Jorgenson for trying to bully Henry. Jerry had gotten a split lip, but Carl ended up with a black eye and Henry was never bothered by him again. Henry had pretty much idolized Jerry after that incident, and the two had done almost everything together ever since. Harry wished with all his heart that was still the case. Harry closed his eyes as a wave of remorse washed over him at the unfairness of it all. If only Henry hadn't tried to climb the tree.
A baseball smacked him in the shoulder.
"Ouch!" cried Harry, startled. Jerry cracked up laughing on the pitcher's mound.
"Oi, look alive!" Jerry chortled. Harry resented his choice of words. Harry loped over and retrieved the ball, tossing it back to Jerry. He got back to his own position and swung the bat in his hands a few times, placing it over his shoulder. He nodded his head at Jerry to signal he was ready. Jerry wound up and whipped the ball down the middle. Harry swung, pushing Henry's skinny arms, and missed. This was why Harry had never been a beater in quidditch.
"Strike three!" Jerry called out, arm extended in the air in celebration of his victory. Harry sighed, he was getting whooped by a twelve year old. Jerry sauntered over to him and patted him roughly on the back. "Haha, don't look so glum! I'm older so it was inevitable that I was going to win. By the way, have you been practicing? Your pitches are getting better." Said Jerry.
"Ah, yeah. Something like that." Said Harry. Jerry gave him a look.
"You're in a mood today, something happen?" asked Jerry. He had no idea, thought Harry.
"I guess I'm not feeling that great. I fell out of a tree yesterday." He told the kid. It shouldn't be too surprising that Henry's best friend had noticed something was off. Harry hadn't exactly been putting in a lot of effort to act like Henry, too caught up in his own inner turmoil.
"What? Jesus, Harry! Why didn't you say nothing?" Exclaimed Jerry. Harry physically startled, and his heart skipped a beat in his chest. He turned wide eyes on Jerry.
"What did you just call me?" he half whispered. Jerry scrunched his eyebrows together.
"Uhm, Harry. Your nickname. You hit your head on the way down yesterday?" he asked. All at once Harry felt like he could breathe again. Holy fuck, that was right, Harry was a common nickname for Henry. Harry ran a hand through his hair, gripping the back. He felt a little lightheaded.
"Yeah, yeah I did." Harry agreed. Jerry lost all pretence of teasing and placed a hand on Harry's shoulder in case he suddenly fell over.
"Maybe we should get you back home and tell your Ma." Said Jerry. Harry waved him off.
"Nah, I don't want to worry her for nothing, I'll be fine in a minute." He said. Jerry shrugged and backed off.
"Okay, if you're sure. How about we do something else instead? I hear Miles' sister is back it town. We should swing by and say hi, it's the friendly thing to do." Jerry said while waggling his eyebrow. Harry snorted. Miles' older sister, Betty, was nearly ten years older than the lot of them and had a large rack. Jerry was in love with her for the obvious reasons.
"Oh yeah, real friendly." Harry teased. Jerry shoved him lightly.
"It is! Not my fault she is a real cookie. Well, fine, if you're not keen on that lets go grab a drink. Ma gave me a few shillings." He suggested. Harry eagerly agreed. The summer sun was high in the sky and his water canteen was empty.
"You're on. It's bloody hot out." Said Harry, "I told mum I'd be back for lunch though." He reminded Jerry. The sentence felt odd to say. He'd never in his life been held accountable for being home on time, and as an adult he wasn't fond of the idea. Edith was a nice woman though, so Harry would go out of his way to make sure she didn't worry. The least he could do is treat her well.
"Think your mum would feed me too, she's a right better cook than mine." Said Jerry. Harry shrugged, it wouldn't be the first time than Henry had brought over his friend after baseball, maybe he should.
"Probably not, but we should get home early so she makes enough food." Said Harry.
"Ah, shoot, do you think we have time for the coke?" asked Jerry.
"Not unless you have enough money to buy bottles." Said Harry. Henry and Jerry would often go to a local diner and order a soda at the bar. It was served in little plastic cups and came with 1 free refill and was loads cheaper than buying glass bottles. "We have lemonade at the house." Harry offered. Jerry pretended to mull this over for a moment.
"I suppose that would be acceptable. Lets go then!" Jerry cheered.
Jerry chattered about this and that the whole way to Henry's home. He filled Harry in on his plans for future baseball card trades with Miles and how his little sister Sue had lost her first tooth. It reminded Harry of chatting with Ron as a child back when life was simple, and they still collected chocolate frog cards. If life had ever been simple, that is.
"It just dawned on me, it's your birthday next week already, isn't it?" Jerry said suddenly.
"It's what?" said Harry.
"Yeah! Did you not realise! July 31st is in seven days. How old are you turning again? Eight?" asked Jerry. Harry hadn't realised that it was his birthday in a week, because in his timeline he had just celebrated his twenty second birthday a month ago, but Jerry was right. He and Henry shared the same birthday.
"Blimey." Breathed Harry. His arms broke out in goosebumps, it felt like this was significant but he wasn't sure how. What were the chances that Henry, nicknamed Harry, would share the same birthday as him and that Harry's soul would be transferred into his body when he passed away. Right before his eleventh birthday, the day that young wizards received their Hogwarts letters. Harry's heart started picking up the pace, a spark of hope blooming in his chest. He could still get his Hogwarts letter.
"Only joking, I know you're turning eleven. Whoa, you really did forget. Hah! Have you even asked your mum for any gifts yet? You should ask for a football! We haven't had one since mine popped in the spring!" suggested Jerry, ever the opportunist.
"Yeah, sure, Jerry." Harry replied, but his mind was already a thousand miles away.
Edith made a show of huffing and puffing when Harry showed up with Jerry, but she didn't turn him away and she served them a sandwich and poured them both a glass of lemonade.
"Edith, may I just say you look as radiant as ever?" said Jerry. Harry thought he was laying it on a little thick, but Edith seemed entertained.
"It's Mrs. Jones to you, and yes you may." She said. Harry chuckled and bit into his sandwich. He liked Edith, she put on a stern front, but she was funny and kind. "How are your mother and sister doing, dear?" she asked.
"Right as rain all things considered. Sue lost her first tooth yesterday, so she's right pleased with herself." He said.
"Oh, I'll bet she is. Is she still asking your mother for a pony every day?" she asked. Jerry shrugged his shoulders.
"Maybe every other day, but sometimes twice in one." He said and cracked a smile. Edith chuckled.
"That girl is persistent." She said, mostly to herself. "Is your mom expecting you back home?" she asked Jerry. Jerry shook his head while chewing, and quickly swallowed.
"No, ma'am. I've got the day to myself." He said. Edith hummed.
"Well since you're here Jerry, maybe you can help Henry run a couple errands once you two are done your lunch. There may be ice cream in it for both of you if you do a good job." She said. Jerry and Harry both perked up. Jerry at the word ice cream, and Harry at the thought of having an extra set of hands.
"Yes, ma'am, whatever you need!" he chirped. Harry nodded his head in agreement.
"What would you like us to do?" Harry asked.
"For starters, I have a couple of deliveries to go out. You know where Janet and Hank live, right Henry?" she asked. Harry thought about it for a moment and slowly nodded his head. A White house with green trim several blocks away came to mind. "Good, the green velvet dress and brown suit need to be delivered. I also have a couple of dresses for Mrs. Croswell." She said. Harry bit back the urge to groan that come on like a reflex. Every time Henry delivered to her she made him come in for a cup of tea. Her house smelled like mothballs and she told him storied about her granddaughter for close to an hour before she ever let him go. He must have been making a face, because Edith gave him a look.
"Yes mum." He said quickly. Harry flicked his eyes over to Jerry and they shared a knowing glance, both of them knew their fate was sealed.
"Good. Then you two can run along when you are done eating. Don't dawdle too long," she advised, "or the ice cream shop will close before you get back." She said with a knowing look. Harry swore she was smirking behind her teacup. Jerry quickly shoved the rest of his sandwich into his mouth and stood up from the table saying something that sounded like where is the green dress around his mouthful of food. Harry laughed while Edith warned Jerry not to choke on his food. He quickly finished his sandwich and made to get up from the table too. Jerry had already located the green dress and was searching for the brown suit, when a loud sound caused them all to stop moving.
The eerie repetitive sound reverberated throughout the whole household, and the fear it brought made Harry's tongue swell in his mouth. Harry looked towards Edith and found her looking back at him, Ashen faced and stiff, and he knew he wasn't wrong. The siren was a warning signal, for incoming enemy aircraft. A bomb warning. Jerry dropped the green dress and all three of them exploded into action. Edith dashed towards the kitchen pantry to grab the emergency bag she kept hidden, and Jerry sprinted out the front door. Harry bolted after him.
"Jerry! Wait, where are you going?" he shouted, voice nearly drown by the siren.
"I have to get home!" Jerry shouted, still running, Harry managed to catch up to him and grabbed his wrist.
"You can't! They won't be there, they'll already be at the bunker by the time you get there!" Harry shouted, and tugged on Jerry's arm. Jerry pulled away, wild eyed and shaking.
"I have to find my mum!" he said, and took off down the street again. All around them people were spilling out of their homes and into the streets, running to the nearest bomb shelter. Jerry was quickly lost in the crowd, Harry had no chance of reaching him again. Harry turned around and tried to spot Edith in the crowd, he ran back towards the house and caught sight of her standing at the end of their sidewalk.
"Mum!" he called. She looked so relieved when she saw him, she ran towards him and took his hand.
"Don't let go!" she instructed sharply and took off running with him in tow. "Where is Jerry?" asked.
"He took off, he's going to go back home, I couldn't stop him!" Said Harry, regret saturating his voice. Harry saw her choke on a sob, but couldn't hear it over the siren. She squeezed his hand a little tighter.
"He'll be okay!" she tried to reassure him, but Harry didn't think either of them believed it, but in that moment it was all they had. This was war, thought Harry. Dirty, ugly, terrifying war. His instincts were singing, begging him to help the people around him or fight the incoming threat, but Harry had no way to do either. So he focused his energy on running, and not getting separated from Edith. They ran for what felt like an eternity, every step they took not bringing them any closer to their goal. It was like they were lost in a sea of people all running in place. No one took their cars, Harry noted, with so many people blocking the streets it would be faster on foot.
They did eventually get close enough to see the building. The closer they got to the bunker, the closer everyone packed together. Soon they were rubbing shoulders with their neighbors, bumping and squeezing their way through the crowd. Everyone was scrambling to fit through the doors and scurry down the stairs, Harry thought they should have made them wider.
The sound of the first explosions rang out in the distance, much sooner than the sound of the airplane engines could be heard. The explosions grew closer alarmingly fast, and Edith and Harry made a valiant effort to push their way through the crowd, but Harry gauged the distance between them and the entrance. A grim certainty settled in his gut; they weren't going to make it in time. Edith seemed to come to the same conclusion shortly after him. She turned her tear-streaked face towards him and seemed to crumple in on herself. She pulled them both to the ground and crouched over him while she held his head to her chest. Not my baby, Harry heard her chant over and over while stroking his hair, not my baby. Harry clung to her and wept while the world exploded around them.
I'm upset, seriously, screw this story. I promise I added the blitz for a reason.