"What is a friend? A single soul dwelling in 2 bodies."
Ever since Ron left, the nightmares started.
They happen every night now, and when she wakes her pillow is damp and there are tears on her cheeks.
She hopes Harry hadn’t heard her cry, but if he has, nothing in his behavior towards her has given it away.
He probably thinks she’s crying about Ron. That might’ve been true a couple of days ago, but not now. Now she’s just angry, because she knows that he’ll come back, asking for forgiveness, for things to go back to the way they were. And when he does, she also knows that he won’t be getting it so easily.
No, it’s the dreams that bother her now.
And they’re the same every night, but each night they get more and more vivid.
In the dreams she wakes up in this tent and Harry’s gone. She thinks he might be outside keeping lookout, so she leaves the tent to check.
And he’s there.
But he’s lying on the ground, his back to her, unmoving. She turns him over and his green eyes stare up at her, lifeless.
She sucks in a sharp breath, the air suddenly so thick around her. She hears twigs snapping ahead of her and looks up to see the man himself, Voldemort, flanked by his followers.
His mouth curls into a leer, his red eyes gleaming as he directs his wand at her and says the spell. She clutches Harry’s body.
And everything’s gone.
Her eyes snap open and she looks around wildly.
She can hear Harry breathing above her and she closes her eyes tightly, shaking.
Fear courses through her veins and on the back of her eyelids a dead Harry is all she sees.
Dead Harry, then darkness.
She keeps her eyes open.
She stands quietly before the door to the boys’ dormitories, the place where Harry is mourning over the loss of Sirius, and she can’t be any more nervous.
She really isn’t supposed to be up here, but she doesn’t care. All she knows is that Sirius is dead, that Harry had seen the whole thing happen right before his eyes, unable to prevent it.
Ron had told her that he couldn’t get through to Harry, and that for her to try would just end in her own disappointment.
And now she wonders if he might be right.
It hurts her more than anything to see Harry like this, and it hurts her even more for she knows that she really can’t do much about it.
But she must try.
So she raises a hand, hesitates for half a second. Then she knocks on the door.
He sits in the attic, perusing the old photo albums he had taken out of the many piles of boxes.
He knows he had initially come up here for something other than this, but he can’t remember at the moment.
He puts the photo album of his parents Hagrid had made him in first year off to the side, picking up another one.
He’s halfway through it when he hears someone climbing up the stairs and he looks up, seeing the red hair, then the nine- year old body, standing in the doorway.
“Lily,” He smiles, waving her over. “Come here. There’s something I want you to see.”
Lily hurries up to him excitedly, sitting down beside him, bringing her legs together Indian-style.
“What is it?”
“It’s pictures of when I was younger, at school.”
Lily leans closer to him to get a good look; at this point they’re both looking down at Ron, Harry, Ginny, and Hermione together in a group photo, a photo they had taken shortly after the defeat of Voldemort.
“There’s me, then beside me is your mum,” He explains, pointing this out. “On the other side of me is your uncle Ron, and--”
“Aunt Hermione!” Lily exclaims happily. “She looks very pretty. I know why Uncle Ron fancied her.”
He grins. Lily looks up at him. “When I was at Aunt Hermione’s house the other day, she was talking about what it was like when you and her were at school together. She said all the girls liked you because you were so handsome.”
He lets out a laugh at this, his eyebrows raised. “She said that?”
Lily nods, but then frowns. “I don’t know if she wanted me to tell you that, though.”
Suddenly, at that moment, there’s a bustle of noise downstairs, a mixture of greetings. Today was a Sunday, and on this day there was always a get-together at his house. After a few seconds, he hears Hermione’s muffled voice.
He looks back at Lily. “Don’t worry about it. I won’t say a thing.”
He winks at her and Lily smiles, relieved.
“Go ahead downstairs. I’ll be there in a minute.”
Lily does so, and as her footsteps descend the stairs he looks back at the photograph, at Hermione smiling up at him, her brown eyes shining.
After a moment he gets up, about to put the photo album back in the box, but thinks better of it.
He tucks it under his arm, smiling, as he makes his way down the stairs to see Hermione in person.
There is one thing, the most important and private thing, that she never tells Harry.
She admires him.
After all the horrific things he’s been through, it’s kind of hard not to.
From the beginning, the opportunity of having a normal life was snatched away from him with the deaths of his parents, and he’s had to grow up with people who don’t appreciate him, who have never appreciated him, and yet he still kept hope nestled inside of him.
Since then he’s seen so many deaths of the ones he loved and the ones that he wished he got the chance to know better, and with each one she knows he is left with the pain of guilt pressing on him, the panic and despair at the thought that they were all his fault.
He’s found out that the fate of the entire Wizarding world has been left in his hands ever since he learned about the prophecy, yet he carries that burden heavily on his shoulders with each passing day, never giving up, never failing, but instead looking steadily forward with visions of success, a brighter future that is to come if he just keeps trying.
Through all this unwanted knowledge, through all this disappointment and pain, he can still smile, can still find moments to laugh and joke with his friends.
He can still care about others instead of merely himself, even though broken hearts over break-ups and bitter disappointments over a Quidditch team losing is nothing compared to the destiny he must know, every morning he wakes up, that he has to fulfill.
He can still love, even though all his younger memories are filled with everything directed to him but love.
That’s why, and she doesn’t care how corny it sounds, that he’s her hero. And he always will be.
She sits beside him outside the tent, watching as his eyes continue to stare out into the darkness.
She knows what he is thinking, how his mind is reeling with the awareness of the task Dumbledore had left him. His burden weighs heavily upon him, she can see it every day in his face, and it causes her so much pain that she feels as if she shares it with him.
A few minutes go by and he says nothing to her, and she thinks that maybe what he really wants right now is to be alone. So she moves to get up, and in a second his hand is enclosed around hers, strong and warm.
As she sits back down, he says, “Are you scared, Hermione?”
His voice is hesitant, quiet, but she can detect the curiosity in it all the same.
She doesn’t lie, for she knows there’s really no point. “Yes.”
He looks at her, and in the moonlight she can see the small, sad smile on his face. “I am too.”
He turns his head away from her then, almost as if he was ashamed that he had said that, and she leans closer to him. It is her only gesture of comfort at the moment.
They stay that way most of the night, side by side.
“Happy nineteenth, Hermione.”
She looks over at Harry in surprise, and in his outstretched hand is a neatly wrapped gift.
Today is September 19th, and at Mrs. Weasley’s insistence there was a big party planned for her at The Burrow. She had walked through the door with Ron to happy greetings shouted, streamers everywhere, and a cake in the middle of the kitchen table, surrounded by colorful presents.
After many hours of fun and thank yous on her part, it was two in the morning, and everyone had retired to bed, bleary-eyed and stumbling slightly due to the copious amounts of butterbeer.
“Harry?” She says, confused, struggling under the weight of presents in her arms. “Didn’t you already give me a gift earlier?”
He shrugs, smiling. “Yeah. But I have one more for you.”
She grins, depositing the presents carefully back on the table.
“I wanted to give this to you last,” Harry continues. “It’s sort of like a private gift. At least, I think so.”
She reaches out for the gift and studies it in her hands. It is thick and heavy, the wrapping a pearl white, and draped over the center is a green ribbon.
“Ginny had to wrap it, she’s better with the charm anyway, but the gift was my idea.”
She unwraps it slowly and can’t suppress a gasp at the sight of the leather-bound book.
“It’s an updated special edition of Hogwarts: A History,” Harry explains. “It’s got everything about the war in it. Your name is mentioned three times.”
She looks up at him, trying to find the words. After a second or two of being unsuccessful, she moves forward and hugs him.
He laughs, holding her close. “I knew you’d like it. Now you can quote it every day like you used to at school.”
She smiles. “Thank you. I couldn’t think of a better gift. And the ribbon-- it’s a beautiful color. Did Ginny pick it out?”
“No, actually, I did,” Harry answers as they withdraw from their embrace, smiling. “Another one of my contributions.”
“It’s my favorite color,” She says truthfully, and as she pulls back and looks into Harry’s shining emerald eyes, she fully understands why.
The first couple of days in the Hospital Wing she is visited by many people, most often Harry, Ginny, Luna, Neville, and once he is able to leave, Ron.
Madam Pomfrey has been administering her many potions since; she says that within a week she’ll be able to leave the Hospital Wing.
She can’t wait. It gets very boring lying in bed all day.
But she knows it’s essential that she takes it easy and gets her rest.
Today is just another usual day, everyone at her bedside, and after twenty minutes or so they begin to leave due to Madam Pomfrey’s orders.
They start to file out, one after the other, with Harry being the last to follow.
“Wait, Harry,” She calls, and he turns.
She looks at Madam Pomfrey. “Please, I need to talk to him. Just five minutes?”
Madam Pomfrey hesitates, then sighs, giving in. “All right, Ms. Granger. But only five minutes.”
And she leaves them alone to speak in private.
Harry approaches her bedside and she sits up a little more, wincing a bit. Even now, she still feels a little sore.
“Are you okay, Hermione?” Harry inquires, and she smiles back at him, her hands smoothing over the white covers.
“Yeah, it just still hurts a little.”
Harry opens his mouth to ask more but she stops him, wanting to change the subject.
“I’m fine, really. There’s something else I wanted to talk to you about.”
Harry nods, taking a seat in the chair next to her bed.
“I’m sorry about Sirius,” She declares. “But it wasn’t your fault, you have to know that.”
Harry’s face tightens. Her heart aches for him.
“But it was, Hermione,” Harry disagrees, looking down at the floor. “You were right. I should have studied Occlumency more. If I had only closed my mind to Voldemort, Sirius would not have--”
“Don’t, Harry,” She advises him firmly, shaking her head. “Don’t do this to yourself. Sirius wanted to be there. If you were in danger, he was always going to be the first one there anyway.”
Harry swallows thickly, his face so tired. She hates seeing him so defeated.
They’re quiet for a moment. Then Harry says, “I’m sorry you have to be in here, Hermione. I’m sorry this happened to you.”
“It’s okay, Harry,” She states gently. “I’m getting better.”
“I should never have let you come,” Harry persists. “Any of them. All of them-- they should have stayed.”
She smiles endearingly. “You know I never would have let you go alone. I would have been right beside you either way, whether you liked it or not.”
Harry lets out a small chuckle. “Yeah, I know.”
After a moment he takes her hand.
“Thank you,” Harry says quietly, his eyes boring into hers, and she can see the honesty there. “I don’t know what I’d do without you.”
She grins, holding his hand tightly. “I know.”
They sit in the tent in silence, his fingers absentmindedly caressing the Horcrux at his neck.
He can feel the effect it has on him, how his peaceful mood (at the moment; not for long) seems to always spiral downward when it’s on.
Hermione has seemed to notice this (she notices everything, when it comes to him, ever since the beginning), and he doesn’t know how many times she’s offered to wear it.
But he always tells her no, that he’ll be fine, that he can handle it. Ron leaving has already taken a toll on her. She doesn’t need anything else sucking away at any good emotion she might have now.
He looks over at her, where she sits on her bed, her eyes poring over that book: The Tales of Beedle the Bard.
They’ve been quiet for a half hour or so now, simply because they don’t know what exactly to say, and as he studies her he can tell she’s exhausted. After spending most of the day making sure the enchantments are in place around them, then the rest wracking her brain about where the other Horcruxes could possibly be hidden, he’s not surprised that she’s blinking rapidly.
“Hermione,” He says softly, and she looks up at him. “You look really tired. You should sleep. I’ll keep lookout tonight.”
He can tell, instantly, by her expression that she’s about to object, but he beats her to it. “I’m not taking no for an answer, Hermione. Sleep.”
After a second, she smiles gratefully, nodding. “Thanks, Harry. If you need me, just wake me up.”
He nods back.
She closes the book, putting it on the floor, and lies back on the bed, wrapping the blankets around her.
Within a minute he knows she’s asleep by her steady breathing, and without really knowing why, he gets up and approaches her.
Her face is calm, a strand of her wavy brown hair hanging in her face, and his hand moves of its own volition to brush it away.
But he stops himself at the last moment, at the risk of waking her.
The dark circles are prominent under her eyes.
She’s bound to wake up sometime in the middle of the night, he knows. That’s how it’s been for the past two days, ever since Ron left. He doesn’t know why that is, whether it’s sorrow over Ron, or nightmares, or something else entirely… but whatever it is, he always wakes to the sound of her cries.
He knows she tries to stifle them so that he won’t know. So that he’ll think she’s okay.
Once more, he feels a surge of anger towards Ron for doing what he did, most of all for what he did to her.
She stirs, rolling over to the side, and it truly hits him then, the sheer weight of it: she had stayed. She didn’t leave.
He walks quietly out of the tent, pushing the flap back, into the darkness, the guilt and gratitude battling in his heart.
She stares up at the ceiling from her cot in Ginny’s room, the only sound being Ginny’s rhythmic breathing.
Bill and Fleur’s wedding is only hours away, and she knows it’ll be a busy, fun day (hopefully), but she just can’t sleep.
So after a few more minutes of futile attempts to drift to sleep, she gets up and quietly exits the room. She tiptoes down the stairs, thinking that maybe, somehow, she’ll get more relaxation from the fresh air outside.
But when she steps out of the house, she discovers that someone else apparently had the same thought.
The bright moon illuminates Harry’s figure; he’s standing with his arms against his chest, his face turned upward at the night sky.
As she moves near him he senses her presence and starts, looking behind him at her.
“Hey,” She says softly. “Couldn’t sleep?”
She shakes her head. “No.”
She stands beside him and tries to think of what else to say.
But Harry beats her to it. “Why can’t you sleep, Hermione?”
“I don’t know,” She replies. “I just have a lot on my mind, I suppose.”
“Yeah,” Harry answers in response. “Me too.”
She furrows her brow. “I know you’re worried, Harry.”
Harry doesn’t respond but she can practically feel his discomfort.
“I know you’re scared,” She goes on, looking at the side of his face she can see. “I’m scared too. But we’ll find a way through this. We will find the Horcruxes. All of them.”
Harry exhales deeply, finally looking at her. “I really hope so, Hermione.”
She smiles, tucking a strand of her tousled hair behind her ear. “It’ll be okay, Harry. I know it.”
This is what she’s done for the past seven years: reassuring him, comforting him, promising him that everything, no matter what, will be all right in the end (always), even when the situation they’re in tells them otherwise.
And as Harry nods at her, looking back up at the twinkling stars, she knows she’ll never stop doing it.
When Voldemort and the Death Eaters had first emerged from the Forbidden Forest, along with a sobbing Hagrid clutching Harry’s “dead” body (something she’ll always be able to vividly recall, with no chance of it ever being forgotten), the world might as well have ended for her at that moment. She remembered Ron and Ginny’s gasps next to her, Ginny’s screaming for Harry as well, but now, even hours after it all ended, she’s not quite sure if she had screamed too. She might have, surely, but her mind was screaming loud enough for it to be blocked out, screaming that it couldn’t be, that please, God, no, it couldn’t be true.
She had never been more scared in her life. Not because Voldemort had won, or that the wizarding world would always be in that evil man’s grasp, but because Harry, her Harry, was dead.
Then the battle had resumed, the shock a constant ringing in her ears, and even as she had battled Bellatrix (that evil witch), all she wanted to do was curl up somewhere by herself and cry. Scream. Do something to drown out that ringing.
Then Harry had appeared out of thin air from behind that invisibility cloak (oh, so many memories they had throughout the years with that thing), and if it weren’t for Ron’s hand she’s absolutely sure she would have fainted right there on the spot.
And hours later he’s alive and well, explaining everything to her and Ron, and she can’t keep her eyes off him.
He says he wants to go to the dormitories to sleep, and Ron nods understandingly, making his way back to his family in the Great Hall, but she stays.
Harry looks back at her, questioning, his tired green eyes so bright, and she breathes in deeply.
“For a while, I thought you were dead.” She says bluntly (because there’s really no other way to say it), and without giving him a chance to respond she moves forward and hugs him, her arms wrapped tightly around his neck.
She can’t remember the last time she’s ever done this (perhaps in fifth year, when he arrived at Number 12 Grimmauld Place) but it doesn’t matter, because as he holds her close she knows it was something long overdue.
“I actually thought you were dead,” She repeats quietly, the side of her face against his grown out, untidy (always untidy) black hair, and his hand threads through her own, resting at her back.
“I know,” He replies softly. “I’m sorry, but it was the only way to surprise Voldemort, to beat him for good.”
She laughs, yet the tears begin to slip down her face. “Always the hero, aren’t you?”
He laughs weakly in return. She closes her eyes.