“Boy, don’t you stay out too long or your ma will get worried.”
Seamus stopped at the door to the pub and smiled over his shoulder at his uncle. “Oi! She worries if I go to the loo without telling her these days,” he teased, winking at his ma, who wasn’t entertained. “Sorry, Ma. Just going for a walk.”
“Aye, ye best hurry or I’ll send Liam’s dogs after yer smart arse,” Bridget warned, though he thought she might be only partially teasing.
“Ma! Ye shouldn’t say words like that,” he groaned, making a big show of covering his ears while uncle Liam snorted. “Me delicate ears!”
“Delicate me arse,” she muttered, shaking her finger at him. “Don’t think I don’t hear ye wit’ that friend of yers, rattling on like filthy scamps.”
“I don’no what yer talking about, Ma,” Seamus denied, giving her his best innocent smile. “Dean’s nae filthy scamp. He’s from London.”
“Same difference,” Liam offered helpfully. When Bridget glared at him, Seamus couldn’t help smirking as his large, rather scary uncle meekly went back to cleaning his bar.
“You, get,” his mum said, shooing him out the door. “Be careful, Seamus. I know how ye are wit’ those walks of yers and I understand ye like ‘aving alone time, but ye also know ‘tisn’t safe anymore. ‘tis dangerous out there t‘ese days.”
He nodded, his grin fading as heavy subjects entered his mind. “I know,” he agreed, not mentioning that that was one of the reasons he needed to get away. He left the Dancing Irishman and headed away from the pub, walking towards the west. He knew where he was going, which made the two mile walk outside of Armagh City go pretty fast.
During the walk, he kept his mind relatively empty. This wasn’t too hard since he wasn’t much of a thinker anyway. He might be more serious than most people expected, but he did prefer to just go with the flow and enjoy life with laughter and smiles. Made it worth living, in his opinion. By the time he reached Navan Fort, he was ready for a rest.
He found a spot on the ground by a tree that was, thankfully, free from milling tourists. With a sigh, he closed his eyes and leaned back. Now, he could think. Ever since he was a child, he’d liked coming here to his ‘serious thinking’. There was just something about this place that made him feel at peace with everything happening around him. It let him focus on his thoughts.
He’d spent several hours here after receiving his Hogwarts letter when he was ten. He’d wasted a couple of hours watching tourists the summer after second year when he’d been thinking about school and classmates frozen by magic. After fourth year, it had been nearly a half day complete with sandwiches that he took from Liam’s pub, lost in thoughts about Dark Lords, dead Hufflepuffs, and tournaments. Last summer, it had been several days with hours here and there as he dealt with distrust, guilt, and acceptance of He Who Must Not Be Named returning. Now, he needed to let his mind drift for a short time while he tried to figure out what to do next.
Dumbledore was dead. Death Eaters had attacked Hogwarts. Harry, Ron, and Hermione were up to something, without a doubt; they were always in the middle of all the troubles, and somehow that seemed to be as it ought. The school was going to bravely reopen, proving itself Gryffindor, in his opinion, but a lot of his classmates wouldn’t be returning. There was such fear in the wizarding world that he couldn’t quite come to terms with all that had happened in such a short time.
His mum and dad didn’t want him to leave Armagh City come September. Dean had owled him with the news that he’d not even told his parents what was happening in the world they didn’t really understand. Seamus had heard that Parvati and Lavender wouldn’t be returning nor would several other people he’d known since he was eleven. Too dangerous, too great a risk, too many things that he thought didn’t really matter so much.
Before he’d left Hogwarts for summer hols, he’d run into Hermione outside the library. It wasn’t as if he’d been lingering there, having a pretty good idea that’s where she’d be, because she was obviously Ron’s girl, or going to be, and that would just be really pathetic to want someone he’d very likely never have. ‘twas a shame that Seamus tended to be pathetic in such things. She’d seen him, though, and smiled the crooked smile that he received quite a lot from her over the years. Truly pathetic would have been considering that ‘his smile’ from third year on.
When he’d asked her if she’d be back for their last year at Hogwarts, the smile had faded and she’d not looked him in the eyes when she’d said ‘yes, of course’. That’s how he knew the infamous trio was up to something, most likely something big because Hermione didn’t lie. For now, that gave him even more to think about, really, which was why he’d needed to escape from the pub and his parents and his well-meaning relatives. Much as he loved them, they didn’t give him much of a chance to think.
Being a halfblood, especially someone known as being friendly with Harry and his friends, wasn’t the safest thing to do be these days, and he knew it. Even when he tried to think about anything except war, there was a part of him that was always alert to the danger. Here, though, at Emain Macha, there was a mystical quality that let Seamus’ mind drift without leaving him feeling as if he were vulnerable. He knew he was protected. Despite being magical, he didn’t really believe in a lot of the folklore and legends that Ireland was so thick with. However, he had to acknowledge that Navan Fort had something about it he couldn’t really explain. Perhaps Cuchulainn was still roaming the grounds preparing to face invading armies.
At the direction his thoughts were headed, he snorted and shook his head. He needed to focus on the situation at hand. It was nearly time for school, and he’d put this off all summer. Instead of reading the papers and seeing all the talk about war, he’d worked in his uncle’s pub sweeping and doing dishes, letting his hands manage all the activity and leaving his mind out of it. Instead of worrying about people dying or being injured, he’d spent time with his parents and paid attention to things he never really had before.
Instead of doing anything productive, he’d written parchment after parchment to Hermione confessing to his crush and asking if maybe, one day, she might consider a date. He’d tossed them all in the rubbish, of course, because he knew that Ron had a prior claim right now. He liked to think that Ron would bugger things up, though, and then he might have a chance. It was hope that made the world go around, after all. Even if it never did happen, it was something to think about.
For now, though, there was a war happening in the world he called home for most the year. That took precedence over childish crushes and worries about how to clean ale off the floor without making a stain. He leaned back against the tree with a sigh and enjoyed the warm summer sun on his face, refocusing his thoughts. This trip to Navan Fort had been useless, really. He’d needed to get away from his family for some time, though, so it had seemed like a good idea.
In all honesty, the decision he wasn’t thinking about had been made since that afternoon months ago when he’d realized that something big was in the workds. He’d doubted, during his fifth year, and had nearly lost several friendships that meant a lot to him; he’d vowed then to never make the same mistake again. When the time came that he was needed, he was going to be there, ready and able to do whatever he could. Whatever they needed. There would be no hiding away in the Muggle world like a coward, and definitely no letting his friends down again when they needed him.
His family would just have to understand. It wasn’t even really a choice, really. It was just something he had to do or he’d never be able to look at himself in the mirror again. He’d tell his parents soon, he knew. He had to before he left to go back to Hogwarts, just in case he didn’t get another opportunity, but he was waiting as long as possible. There would be anger, fear, and probably yelling with more than a few tears. They’d be okay, though, because they trusted him, and he certainly didn’t intend to do anything stupid and get himself killed.
Seamus finally opened his eyes, satisfied that he had nothing more to consider, and smiled when he saw a child chasing a ball. He took it as a sign from Emain Macha that he’d made the right decision. If he could help save this place, this world, so that children could chase balls and there wouldn’t be fear and worry just because of the blood running through your veins, then it would be worth whatever might happen. Next week, he’d leave Armagh City and board the train back to Hogwarts. With that resolution in mind, he felt as if a weight had been lifted from his shoulders and grinned while he watched the tourists enjoy his city.
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