Pen Pals

Harry Potter was preparing to enter his seventh year at Hogwarts. He had just finished talking to Headmistress McGonagall. Voldemort was gone now. The school had been damaged severely when he had attacked it, but she had assured Harry the school would re-open come September 1.

He had attended many funerals over the last month and could use a friend about now. As he left the entrance hall, he saw something that McGonagall had mentioned brochures for pen pals. He thought for a long time. "Why not? Hermione has Ron. Ginny just doesn't understand what I went through. She never really seemed to want to know me, not like Hermione had. I need to find someone like her. Maybe this will work. If nothing else, maybe I can find someone I can vent with." He picked up a brochure as he left.

He Apparated to the train side of King Cross station and caught a cab to the Leaky Cauldron.

"Hey Tom, how you doing?" The Cauldron was empty, for which Harry was happy. Since he defeated Riddle, it was hard for Harry to appear in public.

"I'm doing just fine Harry, and you?"

"Alright if I can avoid the crowds."

"What brings you to the Alley?"

"Need a new post owl."

"Sorry to hear about your bird. She was a beautiful creature."

"Yeah, I miss her a lot." He nodded at Tom and passed through out into the Alley.

Harry watched as he walked. He hated his fame. The- boy-that-lived was bad enough, but the 'chosen one' or the-boy-who-won were even worse. He walked straight to the owl emporium hoping to find another owl he liked. Hedwig would be hard to replace. She was more than a pet; she was a friend. He cried for days after she died. As he walked up and down the aisles looking, he could almost sense a presence, much as he had when Hagrid gave him Hedwig. Then he saw it another snow owl, just like Hedwig, but with more black on its wing tips. He hesitated, would he be able to look at this bird every day and not think of his beloved Hedwig? Harry approached the owl and it hooted at Harry.

Harry reached out to pet the owl and it jumped on to his arm. "How are you fella? Do you want to go home with me?" The owl hooted and bobbed its head. "I don't know. You remind me a lot of my lost friend. It will be hard for me, you know?" The owl bobbed his head again. Harry looked in his eyes and knew that he couldn't resist. "Alright, now what do I call you? How about Mercury?" The owl hooted his acceptance of the name. "Alright Mercury it is. Let's go home."

Harry went up, paid for his new owl, and left for Grimwald Place. After he settled in, he started to get ready to take a shower. As he was emptying his pockets, he found the pen pal brochure in his robe pocket. He sat at his desk and studied it for a while wondering how they chose who wrote to who or if it mattered. He decided he would wait until morning to find out.

Harry woke up three times that night from nightmares of the Battle for Hogwarts. So many had died and he blamed himself. He felt that they died because of him, for him. He often wondered if he would ever be normal. That's all he ever wanted: to be normal.

After the third nightmare, he decided to give up on sleep for the night. His clock showed it was four a.m. He got up and showered to get rid of the sweat the nightmares produced. After that, he went down to the kitchen and fixed breakfast for himself.

"Why can't I find happiness like everyone else? Now with Voldemort's defeat, it will be even harder to find someone that isn't after fame of being with the chosen one." He thought. In his room, he picked up the brochure and filled it out with a short letter to his prospective pen pal.

To whom ever,

I'm not much of a writer, but I thought I would give this a chance. I don't have many friends, what few I have seem to be drifting away.

I'm a seventeen-year-old male if it matters. I start my last year of school in the fall. Haven't really decided what to do after that. I once thought I wanted to be an auror, but after recent events, I'm not so sure any more. I've seen so much death that I'm not sure if I could do it.

Friends are important to me, as I didn't have any growing up. That's a story for another time.

A friend in need

After he put his letter in the brochure as instructed it flashed and disappeared. Now all he could do is wait and see if anyone responded. While he waited, he decided to do some of his summer class work. One of the nice things about Grimwald, it had its own library to do his research.

The next day he got his first letter from his anonymous pen pal.

Dear friend in need,

I too will be starting my last year of school in the fall. I'm not sure if I want to be a healer or an advocate and see if I can change some of the laws that I feel are unfair.
Like you, I didn't have many friends growing up. One of my dearest friends recently went through a traumatic experience and I worry for him.
Do you have any favorite classes? I'm good at charms and runes. Potions would have been better if we had a better teacher the whole time.

Jane

He studied the letter for a bit. It sounded so much like Hermione, but she had Ron. She wouldn't bother with a pen pal.

Jane,
Thanks for writing. Defense was my best subject. Like you, I might have done better if we had a better potions instructor. Our last teacher was much better and I think I will do well this year as well.
What are you like? How are you classed in our society? I'm a half-blood, but muggle raised.
I like music, don't know much about movies though. I cook and have an affinity for gardening. Strange for a guy, huh?

A friend in need.

P.S. my owls name is Mercury.

"Mercury, do you think you can find this Jane?"

The owl flew the short distance to him and nipped his finger 'of course' look in his eyes.

"Wait for a reply if she doesn't have an owl of her own." Harry attached the letter to his leg and Mercury flew out the open window.

Three hours later, Mercury returned with another letter.

Dear in need,

I'm classed as muggle-born. Does it make a difference? I would be disappointed if it did.
I like music, reading, and the movies. I'm not into sports. I only attended games in support of our house team.
My parents aren't rich, but they are considered well to do. What about you?
I'm sorry to hear about your friends drifting away. I know how important friends can be. The friend I told you about needs his friends as well, but priorities change with time and I hope that if he needs me, I can still be there for him. I have cared for him for a long time, but he never showed that kind of interest in me, so I started to see our other friend as a possible partner. We fight all the time so I'm not sure if it will work out.

I'm starting to babble and you probably don't want to hear about my problems.

Jane

P.S. Mercury is beautiful. Have you had him long?

Harry considered the letter for a long time. 'Time to find out how much she is willing to bare?'

Jane,

Your blood status doesn't mean a thing to me. I only asked so that I would know the kinds of things we may have in common. One of my best friends is a muggle-born witch. I do have a problem with pureblood society. As far as money, I have enough to get by. Mercury is a recent purchase.

I, like you, had a friend I was interested in, and she may have liked me, but you have to understand, I grow up in a loveless home; at least as far as I was concerned. I didn't know what it was like to love someone or be loved until it was too late. So, I didn't say anything. She has moved on and as long as she is happy, then I'm happy.

Another reason I didn't tell her, with the war coming and all, I was afraid I wouldn't survive. I couldn't start something and then leave her to fend for herself. I know all to well the loss of a loved one and didn't want to do that to her.

I think I have cried on your shoulder enough for now.

Friend in need

"Mercury, are you up for another trip?"

Mercury flew to him and stuck out his leg impatiently. "Do you like Jane?" Mercury bobbed his head.

Harry was in the library when Mercury re-appeared. It was mid afternoon. Apparently, Jane needed time to digest his last letter.

Dear in need,

You don't sound like a seventeen-year old boy. Most would have gone after the girl regardless of the outcome. It's very noble of you to let her go, but what about now. The war is over and you apparently survived. Don't you deserve some happiness? Do you think you will find another?

I really don't mind you crying on my shoulder if it will help you. You sound very nice.

Jane

Harry got owl treats and water for his owl as he read.

Jane.

The scars of war run deep. It would be hard to put that burden on any girl. The nightmares that wake me every night are truly horrible. Until I can get past them, I doubt that I will even try. I used to be able to tell my female friend many things, but these nightmares are more than even she should have put up with. We had been through so much together that I could even think of putting her through this as well. She knows most of my secrets as it is.

Jane, do you know what love is? I know that I would gladly give up my life for her and wish I could spend my life with her, but is that love? Could love heal the pain that I feel from the war and my part in it? I did some truly horrible things and am not sure if I deserve happiness any more.

Friend in need

Mercury was there waiting for Harry to attach the letter to his leg.

"Your getting quite a work out today, aren't you? This will be the last letter today. You can hunt when you get back if you feel the need to or if she's not ready to send a response to night you could stay there."

Harry went back to his studies. Even though Hermione was with Ron now, he still wanted her to be proud of him by having his schoolwork done. He smiled at himself. 'Hermione work ethics seem to be rubbing off on me. Took long enough.'

It was late when Mercury finally returned to Harry.

"Did you stop to hunt or did it take that long for her to write?" He asked as he absent-mindedly stroked the bird's feathers just as he had with Hedwig.

Dear friend,

You don't ask simple questions do you. What is love? To me, Love is thinking of the person all the time, missing them when they aren't around, thinking of their needs and desires before your own. Love is wanting to be better for them, helping them become better without changing them to conform to what you want.

If you truly love someone and they love you, then yes I think their love can help you heal from the tragedies of war, no matter what you did. I too have nightmares from my part of the war. My boyfriend is too dense to understand. He has his own pain from the war, but he has his family. I don't right now.

Your friend sounds like a truly remarkable girl. How long have you known her? What is she like?

Jane

It was a short letter, but it contained so much of what Harry wanted to know.

"Mercury, take the night off. I'll send the next one in the morning."

He sat and thought about what Jane had said and what she what asked.

Jane,

Thank you for your answer.

My friend, where do I start? We met our first year at school on the train, so I have known her for seven years. She has lovely brown hair and brown eyes that you could drown in. She is intelligent, witty, fun, loyal to a fault, and beautiful. She would never admit that though. She sees herself as plain and bossy. She doesn't like her hair, but I look at it as an extension of her personality, untamable and I wouldn't have her any other way. I have missed so many opportunities to show her just how pretty she is. She was always at my side even when I didn't want her to be there, times when it was dangerous to be there. She endured insults from associating with me. She helped me in so many ways and I think that I took advantage of her without realizing it. I don't think that I ever thanked her for everything she did for me. I even owe her an apology or two for trying to protect me without my realizing what she was doing.

Tell me about your other friend, the one you don't think likes you romantically. What's he like? When did you meet?

Friend in need

He rolled up his letter to send out in the morning and prepared for bed.

His first dream that night was of a brown haired girl and the adventures they had in school. It started out very pleasant, but it turned into a nightmare when it got to the war and what she suffered during it. He woke up sweating and crying for her pain. Fortunately, the dream took most of the night and the sun was already starting to rise over the horizon.

Over the next two weeks, he told Jane of his childhood or lack there of.

Then he got a letter that shocked him to his core.

Dear Harry,

This is Jane. Yes, I know who you are. At first, I wasn't sure, but as we continued to write, I became convinced that it was you. It was hard hiding from you, but I wanted you to tell me all the things that you did. I was afraid if you knew it was me, you would clam up as you have a tendency to do.

How could I have been so blind not to see you? As we wrote back and forth, I could see what you were saying and remembered the looks, the touches, and the devotion you gave me when I was hurt.

When you first told me about your friend, how you felt about me, I was jealous that you had a friend you cared about so much. Then as we went on and realized it was you, my heart nearly broke because we missed so much because we couldn't admit to each other how we felt about each other for different reasons. I didn't think you could care for a bucktoothed, bushy haired know-it-all. I missed seeing that it didn't matter to you. You, who made friends with Luna Lovegood, Hagrid, and Remus. How could I miss that it was what was inside that you cared about more than anything.

Harry, Ron and I broke up. The prat wanted me to leave my parents in Australia. Can you believe that?

Harry, these letters helped me to realize that I love you and only you. If you feel the same way, do you think we can get together and talk?

All my Love

Hermione Jane Granger

Harry was flabbergasted. He had thought that the letters sounded a lot like Hermione, but the clever girl fooled him. He had told her things that he didn't want her to know. Well it's too late now. Now he had to decide what to do. She and Ron broke up, but not because of their letters. Did he want to pursue her? He owed her so much, and he did love her.

Dear Hermione,

Yes, I do want to talk to you face to face. I want to be sure that we can be a couple, something that I thought was impossible a few short weeks ago.

We can meet wherever you like or you can come here to Grimwald. Personally, I would rather meet here. You know how the press is.

Love

Harry, Friend in need of you.

A/N: I recently read another Pen Pal and the chaaracters were off. This is my take from Harry's side. If reviews are favorable, I'll add more.