The Dark Arts
Harry Potter Hermione Granger Ron Weasley
Multiple Eras
Goblet of Fire Order of the Phoenix
Published: 12/01/2003
Updated: 12/01/2003
Words: 1,129
Chapters: 1
Hits: 448



Story Summary:
In this AU ficlet set in 7th year, Harry and Hermione must learn to cope with a life without Ron. Harry blames himself; Hermione wishes she could help him fight his demons. Slight H/Hr overtones.


Hermione Granger is not surprised to find it is still dark outside when she wakes, sweating and shaking from the seemingly endless nightmares she is having. They are becoming more frequent and violent in nature, and she knows they won't stop until it's all over, one way or another.

She breathes in and out slowly, deeply, willing her heartbeat to slow down. She closes her eyes again and lets her mind drift, and that's when she can feel him. He is awake.

Rising up out of her bed, she throws on her robe over her pyjamas and puts on her slippers, and makes her way to Harry's bedroom. Ever since they lost Ron, he's slept alone, unable and unwilling to face staying in the room they'd both shared for the six years they'd been best friends.

Hermione can understand how he feels. It seems that every day heralds a new, yet equally painful reminder of the person they both loved. The chess board being used by some of the younger ones. The Chudley Cannons poster that Harry can't bring himself to take down off his wall. It's almost as if he wants to be reminded, Hermione thinks on occasion. As if he wants to suffer more than he already does.

She doesn't blame Harry for Ron's death; nobody does. It wasn't Harry's wand that felled him, it was Voldemort's. But Harry being Harry blames himself, even a year later. So many near him have been taken; his parents, Cedric in fourth year, Sirius in fifth year, and Ron in sixth year. He blames himself for each and every death, as if he could have done something to prevent them.

Hermione has given up trying to convince him otherwise; she instead offers him unconditional support. Nobody but her knows what's it truly like to be Harry Potter. He opens his heart to nobody but her; he doesn't try to shield his sadness at his losses and his terror at having to face his enemy for what will most likely be the last time. He cries in her arms, although she knows it's only the sight of her tears that does him in.

She gives a perfunctory knock on his door and doesn't bother waiting for a response before opening it. He is standing by the window, gazing out into the inky blackness. He doesn't turn straight away, knowing she would come. She closes the door quietly and approaches him. At first, she was afraid to touch him, because he tried so hard to push her away when they lost Ron; she knows now it was because he was terrified of losing her too.

However, she has no hesitation in reaching out to him, and finally he moves to face her and pulls her into his arms. "I was having a dream," she says quietly into the stillness as his arms go around her waist. "I could see Ron in the distance."

This does not surprise him; she dreams of Ron with some regularity. Harry sighs and strokes her hair softly, letting her talk it out. By the time she is done, she is crying, as she always does. While she goes to him to seek comfort, he knows she does not hesitate to give it when he needs it, so he gives her as much as he can of himself and hopes it will be enough.

Once she is finished, her sobs turn into hiccoughs and she sucks in air, trying to catch her breath. Harry pulls back from her, far enough to see her face, and wipes her tears away, first with his thumbs, then with his lips.

Hermione grips his forearms tightly, taking comfort in his kisses and caresses. She could never tell this to anyone else; they would not understand. Finally, she stands still and lets his warm lips cover her face, his closeness soothing.

Their future yields no certainty. There is no promise of tomorrow for them. But what they have, right here and now, is enough. It's always enough.

Hermione's eyes stare into Harry's. If she was ever to be asked to remember just one thing about her best friend, she thinks it would be the colour of his eyes when he's looking at her this way.

"Close your eyes," he whispers, and she complies. His long fingers tilt her chin up, and she feels his warm breath against her skin. When his lips brush so very gently against hers, she relaxes.

They hold the kiss for a few long moments, and open their eyes again when they separate. Hermione loves that they can speak without words as they do at this moment. She cherishes all these little things about her relationship with Harry, and when his arms go back around her to pull her close and he starts to move their bodies ever so slightly, she begins to breathe again.

They sway silently to the music in their heads, their embrace tight and their cheeks resting against each other. Every now and then, Hermione will turn her head to kiss his cheek, and occasionally Harry will bring up a hand to stroke her hair. Hermione doesn't know how long they spend dancing slowly in each other's arms, but she does know she never wants it to end. If she could somehow suspend time, this is what she'd want to be doing forever. Dancing in Harry's arms.

The small clock on the mantelpiece chimes three times and the moment is over. They reluctantly let go of each other but keep their fingers entwined as they make small talk about what the dawn will bring -- classes, study, private lessons from every teacher at the school who are doing their collective best to teach Harry everything they know.

Once their plan for the day is agreed upon, Hermione lets go of Harry's fingers and bids him good night. He smiles tiredly at her, and it's the sight of this smile, a mere shadow of the one he used to give her, that makes her impulsively capture his face in her hands and pull her forehead down so she can place soft kisses on his scar. She traces the outline of the lightning bolt and has reached the bottom when she feels the wetness of his tears on her fingers, for her acceptance and acknowledgement of the very thing that defines him, that makes him both special and hunted, is always enough to bring him to tears.

As he did to her, she kisses his tears away, and after one final, lingering kiss on his lips, she leaves him to whatever demons he faces at night, wishing all the while he didn't have to fight them.

As she walks back to her room, she remembers to breathe.