His face was completely obscured in the darkness cast by the upper bunk. Harry could feel his eyes on him but couldn’t make out his features.
“What’s the problem?” Harry asked.
“Problem? There’s no problem.” The shadow replied. “Not according to you anyway.”
Harry stood there confused as he heard several heavy droplets collide with the roof of the tent, echoing through the space inside. “Obviously there is, so just spit it out will you.”
“I thought you knew what you were doing. Instead we are out here in the middle of nowhere with no food, freezing every night with no idea where anymore of the damn Horcruxes are or how to find them, much less destroy them!” Ron spat.
He stood up from under the bunk and the light caught his face fully. He looked angry and desolate all at once. A fire burned behind his eyes but his face showed only despair. The rain was coming down heavier creating an awful ruckus inside the tent as Harry stood there in disbelief. Hermione looked just as shocked, and it showed as for the first time in ages she was speechless.
“What are you on about?” Harry asked feeling anger boil up inside him.
“I thought...” Ron began. “I thought things would be different. Would be... Well not this.”
He threw his arms up indicating the simple tent and the thundering sound of the rain crashing against the roof.
“I thought you knew what you signed up for,” said Harry.
“Yeah, I thought I did too.”
“Did you think we’d be staying in five star hotels? Finding a Horcrux every other day? Did you think you’d be back to Mummy by Christmas?” Harry scolded feeling better at having someone to blame.
“I thought Dumbledore had told you what to do. Had given you a fully formed plan, not a couple of points to follow.”
Harry noticed that Ron’s wand was resting in his fist. He glared back at his friend, unable to believe what he was hearing.
“Ron.” Hermione said quietly, yet loud enough to be heard above the cacophony outside. “It’s not Harry’s fault. We knew what we were getting in to.”
Ron just ignored her focusing wholly on Harry. “Why is this our job anyway? Why does it always fall to us to save the day? Huh?”
Harry wouldn’t have been surprised to see steam start pouring from Ron’s ears. His face was almost the same colour as his hair.
“Because...” Harry began still hoping to calm Ron.
“Because you got that damn scar. That’s why! Everyone needs famous Harry Potter to come in and save the day. This isn’t our fight, it’s yours!”
Harry felt the anger bubble up inside him again. So that’s how he really felt, after everything they had endured together. “So why are you still here?” Harry spat.
“Search me,” said Ron shrugging.
“Go home then,” said Harry fiercely.
“Yeah, maybe I will!” shouted Ron “At least there I’m wanted.”
“Then GO!” roared Harry. “Go back to them, pretend you’ve got over your spattergroit and Mummy’ll be able to feed you up and –“
Ron raised his wand to curse Harry but Hermione was too quick.
“Protego!” She called, and invisible barrier expanding between Ron and Harry.
The curse left Ron’s wand and struck the Shield where it seemed to sit for a moment before rebounding back and hitting Ron right in the face. He yelped in pain and clutched at his face. As he turned back to face the others the light caught his face once more. Hermione gasped. A large crater was visible in his right cheek and several gashes were evident above his left eye.
Ron glared at them both for a moment. “So it’s like that then.”
His statement hung in the air between the two parties as though caught in the Shield Charm.
“It doesn’t have to be Ron.” Hermione begged, tears leaking from her eyes. “Just be reasonable.”
“Reasonable!?” Ron thundered. “You always took his side. Even now, though you know what I’m saying makes sense. Why should we keep risking our necks for him?” He spat blood leaking from the wounds on his face.
“Ron we promised to help him. Please!” Hermione called.
“Fuck you!” He spat, his gaze shifting from Harry. “Fuck you both!”
With that he turned on his heel and stormed out into the night. Harry felt a deep regret as he watched Ron disappear through the doorway. He moved to go after him as did Hermione, but both were impeded by the Shield Charm still hovering in front of them. Harry collapsed into the seat behind him as Hermione ducked out into the darkness. Harry could hear her calling to Ron.
She returned after a few minutes soaked to the bone. Her hair clung to her face and it was no longer possible to tell if it was tears or the rain that stained her face.
“He’s gone...” She mumbled walking towards Harry.
“I’m sorry Hermione. I don’t know what came over me.”
“The locket.” She said softly stopping just in front of him. “You’ve been wearing it all day. I can’t believe he said those things. You know I have never regretted being by your side.”
Harry nodded as the pain and realisation of what had happened coursed through him with every beat of his heart. He looked up and stared at Hermione. “You should get changed, or you’ll die of hyperthermia.”
Harry stood and moved towards the door so she could change. Hermione grabbed his hand and turned him about flinging herself into his arms and releasing all the pain and anguish she felt, crying into his shoulder until they were both soaked the water from her clothes and hair dripping steadily onto his. They both stood there taking solace in the others presence as the sound of the rain pressed in upon them, reinforcing how alone they were.
A tear leaked from Harry’s eye as he recalled that dark night so long ago. So much had changed that night.
“A knut for your thoughts.” Hermione whispered barely loud enough for Harry to hear her.
He turned to face her as she stood in the doorway to the lounge. She knew she was silhouetted by the bright moonlight filtering in through the window behind her, the same moonlight that was the only source of light in the room, casting an eerie glow over Harry's features.
“It’s nothing.” He replied turning away from her rubbing his eye with one finger.
“Really. Nothing you say.” She responded walking over and sitting beside him on the sofa. “That’s why you’re sitting in the living room in the middle of the night with all the lights off.”
Harry just looked at her again a small smile creeping across his features. “I’m fine I promise.”
“You always were horrible at lying to me Harry.” Hermione said grabbing his hand and squeezing it softly. “At least with the big stuff.”
Harry’s smile grew as she watched, she could see pain etched behind his eyes, still a dull green, even in the soft moonlight. “I was just reminiscing. Old times and such.” Hermione just sighed and gave him a you’re-still-lying-to-me look. “Ok I was thinking about Ron.” He caved.
Hermione felt a pang in her chest at the mention of Ron’s name. Harry almost never spoke of Ron. “Yes...” she whispered hoping to coax him into opening up.
“About the nig...” Harry paused sighing heavily. “About the night he left.”
Hermione thought back to the dark and gloomy night that had changed things forever. She had spent hours in Harry’s arms trying to make the hurt go away. She had truly cared for Ron, even starting to think of him in the way everyone assumed she already had. But that night he had turned his back on her. Turned his back on Harry, and on everything they had ever been through.
“Ow.” Harry said softly, shaking Hermione from her reverie.
“You’re hurting my hand Hermione.” He replied.
Hermione looked down and realised she was squeezing Harry’s hand awfully tight. “Sorry.” She mumbled releasing his hand.
“It’s ok.” She could hear the hurt in Harry’s voice. He had never forgiven himself for that night. He felt that it was his fault Ron left. That if he had just taken off the locket sooner, things would have been different. She had even blamed Harry for a time. Not that she had ever told him so, she knew it would have destroyed him if he thought she had turned on him too.
“It wasn’t your fault Harry.” Harry looked away from her, scanning the room.
“I shouldn’t have lost it like that. I... None of us expected things to go the way they did.”
“Yes but it was still Ron who left. It wasn’t your fault.” She repeated emphasising her point resting her hand on his shoulder.
“He only said what we were all thinking at that point. And instead of trying to help him, and comfort him I snapped. I...” He stopped.
Hermione felt his shoulder tense as he tried to stop tears from emerging. He never cried in front of her. It was like he thought she would think less of him if he wasn’t always strong, always dependable Harry.
“Harry, don’t bottle it up again. You need to talk about this. To let it out.” She comforted running her hand down his back.
“I don’t want you to think I’m...”
“Think you’re what? Weak? Childish? I would never think less of you Harry. We used to talk all the time. What happened to us?” She asked knowing the answer immediately. It was that night. Everything had changed in that one fateful night. Their friendship changed with Ron’s departure.
“I’m sorry Hermione.” He said still facing away from her. “I just miss them so much. And not just Ron. Ginny too. And Fred. And Remus and Tonks. And everyone else. They died because of me. Because I didn’t know what I was doing.”
Hermione shifted on the seat threading her arms around Harry. She could feel his body loosen as he finally let some of the emotion out. Gentle sobs reached her ears as she pulled him closer. “No. They died because they loved you. Because they would have given anything for you. Just like I would,” she whispered into his ear.
Harry turned and wrapped his arms around her crying into her shoulder. A small grin spread across her lips as she held him close, being there for him, as he had been for her for so long. She could feel the tension easing out of his body, escaping through the tears that were dampening her pyjamas.
“It’s going to be ok.” Hermione sniffed and felt a warm liquid roll down her cheek. She realised that she was crying with Harry. Their emotions were pouring forth as they sought comfort in each other’s arms. Hermione felt her body shake as heavier sobs took her over. She felt Harry shift in her arms until she was crying into his shoulder. His body was still and she knew he had gone back to being strong Harry, the one who was there for her whenever she felt alone, or scared.
“It’s going to be ok.” Harry said rubbing her back and echoing her own words.
“No.” She sobbed, holding him tightly. “No it won’t. Everything is so different now.”
She felt Harry pull away from her as he shifted on the sofa. She felt alone in that moment before he pulled her close once more. His chest was hard yet soft enough to be welcoming, his arms strong and comforting. Hermione snuggled herself deeper into his arms, she felt safe here, like nothing could ever hurt her again.
“What do you mean?” Harry asked her trying to distract her from her memories.
“Don’t you feel it?” She asked looking up at him with tear soaked eyes.
“Feel what, Hermione.” He looked back down at her with his emerald eyes, searching for the answer in her chocolate coloured ones.
She just wanted to hit him, but couldn’t summon the energy as she buried herself back into his shoulder. She felt so confused. She wanted to hate him for not noticing but took solace in his arms at the same time. Why does life have to be so complicated? she thought. “That...” She began unable to frame what she was thinking into coherent sentences.
“What?” He whispered, running his fingers softly through her hair.
Hermione felt a shiver creep down her spine at his touch. She dried her eyes and softly pulled away. “Do you really not know?” She stared straight into his eyes opening her mind and her heart to him, praying he’d notice.
“I...um...” Harry stuttered looking utterly confused and embarrassed at the same time.
Hermione leant closer. “Yes?” she asked, her voice so low she could barely hear it herself.
There were mere millimetres between them. “I...” Harry said, unable to tear his gaze from Hermione’s eyes. “I...”
A bright light suddenly flared around them both and they recoiled looking about. Kreacher walked in with several cleaning utensils and started dusting and polishing. Hermione turned away from Harry, drying her eyes and Kreacher stopped as he noticed them both.
“Forgive me master and mistress.” He said bowing low. “I did not know that you were up.”
Harry opened his mouth to say something but Hermione stood up and smiled at Kreacher. “It’s alright Kreacher. I was just heading to bed. Goodnight.” She called to the room in general, not turning back as she shuffled quickly from the room.
Harry just stared at the place she had been moments before. “Goodnight, Hermione.” He whispered a glazed look in his eyes.
Hermione swung her door shut and fell against the wooden surface as she slid down to the floor. Her eyes were red as she struggled to keep the tears back. She felt so foolish, opening herself up like that. Now Harry was going to think she was completely insane. She wished she could undo everything.
No you don’t, a voice nagged in the back of her mind.
“Oh not you again.” Hermione moaned to herself, running her fingers into her hair and banging her head against the door.
“I’m sorry.” Harry said dejectedly through the door.
Hermione gasped and jumped up, swinging the door open to see Harry disappear inside his room. She collapsed where she was once more forgetting to swing the door shut this time as she fell backwards and stared up at the ceiling. When did it all go so wrong? She asked herself.
When you fell in love with Harry, the voice cooed back.
“Did I ask for your opinion?” She chided back.
No but you wanted it! The voice replied sounding a lot like Ginny.
Hermione rolled her eyes. Realising she was lying on her bedroom floor having an argument with herself that she really didn’t want to have. She groaned again and dragged herself over to her bed. Slipping in under the covers, she shivered slightly as she snuggled her shoulder into the sheets and felt the cold patch on her pyjama top which was still damp with Harry’s tears.
Why don’t you just tell him already? The voice cooed once more.
“Because it’s completely ridiculous.” She rationalised. “Now go away.”
“Because you’re annoying me.”
No. Why is it completely ridiculous?
Hermione rolled over and buried her head fiercely into her pillow groaning loudly.
You know that’s not gonna get rid of me.
“What do you want from me?” Hermione called to her empty room somewhat louder than she intended.
To realise that you need Harry! Like I have been telling you for years now.
“I can’t. He obviously doesn’t feel the same way.”
How can you know that if you never ask? Just go to his room now and tell him!
“I will not tell Harry I love him!” Hermione yelled at herself.
“Might be a little late for that.” A voice said from the doorway.
Hermione sat bolt upright in bed and stared at Harry, his hand a centimetre from her door frozen in mid knock. His face was completely hidden in shadow. Hermione swallowed hard staring at his outline. “Um... Harry. How... how long have you been standing there?”
He just stood there. “Is it true?” He asked.
“Is what true?” Hermione asked hoping she could fake her way out of this somehow. She had already lost everyone important in her life, she couldn’t go on if she lost Harry too.
“Don’t play coy with me Hermione. Is it true?” He said slowly stepping forward into the room.
Hermione could feel her heart pounding against her chest. She wondered how it could be pounding and racing so hard all at the same time. She watched silently as Harry walked around her bed stopping when he came level with her. She pulled the covers up higher hoping to disappear beneath them.
“Well...?” Harry whispered, so low that Hermione barely caught it.
Her brain screamed at her to just stay quiet. Don’t say anything. You can still salvage this. Hermione felt herself agreeing with her brain as she watched Harry bob slowly up and down. Her heart stopped as she realised it wasn’t Harry that was bobbing. It was her head.
There problem solved. Ginny’s voice called from the back of her mind.
Hermione froze completely too in shock to even yell at the voice. Her eyes were fixed on Harry, who was still cast almost completely in shadow. The moment seemed to go on forever, and Hermione thought she would die.
“How long have you... you know...” Harry finally responded.
In all her long musings Hermione had never really contemplated this question. She had cared deeply about him for years now, but she wasn’t sure when those feelings had turned to love. They had been so close for so long that it may be impossible to tell for sure where their origin lay. She sat completely still watching him as the world got darker and darker around her until suddenly the entire world was black.
A/N: Oopsy, did I just write that. Looks like something might happen sooner rather than later. What do you guys think? Thanks for reading and please leave a review too.
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