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"Sorry for snapping at you, Ron. I know this isn't an excuse, but I didn't manage to get much sleep last night." Hermione whimpered as she walked back into the Common Room.

"Don't worry." He replied sheepishly, not wanting to cause her any more unnecessary angst. She smiled at him before sitting, rather forcefully, down on the sofa in front of the fire.

"Where's Aengus?" Aoife asked, hoping to take everyone's minds off what had happened.

"Oh, I don't know. I thought he was right behind me." Hermione muttered, closing her eyes.

Hermione had gone to see Madam Pomfrey about Harry and she told her to slip him some sleeping pills as sleep would help him feel better. Hermione was dubious at first but after facing the prospect of another sleepless night, she couldn't stop herself from doing it. Ron had also been a motive behind it because he had to sleep in the same dorm as Harry. Aengus, strangely, hadn't complained about it.

"Ron, before you go to bed, can you check on Harry for me?" Hermione asked as he made his way upstairs. He made a noise that Hermione took as agreement so she snuggled back into the sofa.

Aoife stayed a little longer, finishing her book. After nearly an hour, her eyes couldn't stay open any longer. "Hermione? Are you coming up?" She asked as she stood up and stretched her stiff limbs.

"Maybe later." She mumbled.

She stared into the fire and remembered all the evenings she sat here with Harry and Ron. Talking late into the night, that was before their minds were tainted with images and sounds that no one should have to endure. The laughs echoed around her head; this brought a small smile to her face as a tear ran down her cheek. She used to be so happy here but things had changed, the fire which used to bring her warmth seemed to send chills to her very core. Her eyes were fighting a losing battle so she finally gave into the clasp of sleep.

Someone had entered the Common Room, Hermione kept her eyes shut, hoping whoever it was would leave her alone. "Hermione?" Came a soft Irish accent. "Are you asleep?"

"No." She mumbled, "what are you doing?"

"I have trouble sleeping." He said as he walked over to the sofa and sat down next to her.

"So you just walk around the castle?" She inquired.

"Not exactly, I go outside. I found the perfect spot to just think." Hermione looked at Aengus and wondered whether she should ask more about this but, she decided against it as if he wanted to tell her; he would. She started to get up to go to bed, but he stopped her. "A clear nights sky really put things into perspective." He said before letting go of her arm. Hermione looked at him, perplexed as to why he said that, the flicker of the fire making his face look soft and his eyes warm. Hermione began to open her mouth, wanting to question him but something stopped her, she enjoyed a riddle.

The next morning, the rain pounding on the window woke Hermione up in a daze. She had weird dreams, dreams of her looking up at the sky by the Common Room fire with a boy that had never made an appearance before - Aengus. She looked at her watch and realised it was five minutes to nine, five minutes until her Transfigurations lesson. She quickly changed into her robes and grabbed her bag, hoping she had the right books in there for the day. She ran to her lesson, her stomach shouting at her for feeding. "Sorry, Professor McGonagall." She said as she crept into the classroom. She took a seat right at the back of the room and started making notes. When the lesson ended, Hermione looked around the room trying to find Harry but had no luck; she wondered whether he had left quicker than everyone else but she would have surely seen him, being right next to the door.

"Miss Granger, can I speak to you?" McGonagall said rather sternly from the front. Before she made her way up to the front of the room, she caught hold of Aoife and frantically told her to find Ron or Aengus and tell them to check if Harry is up in their dorm. Aoife nodded and was pushed out by the stampede of students. "Miss Granger, did you manage to get what I asked you to do done before you had other, more pressing matters?" She asked as she lowered her glasses down her nose.

"Yes, we delivered all of the cards and gifts. I think it was very noble of you to do such a thing." She smiled at her.

"Well, the people of Hogsmeade deserve to be compensated as they went above and beyond their duty to aid us here. I appreciate you doing that for me." She looked as though she was going to say something else; her eyes changed to eyes of a woman who was worried or anxious. Hermione looked at her, expecting to be asked about Harry - the one subject she couldn't honestly answer. McGonagall looked at this young woman and must have decided not to ask any more from her. "That'll be all, Miss Granger." She smiled before turning back to her desk to make herself look busy.

"Professor?" Hermione called. McGonagall turned back to face her, waiting to hear a voice again. Hermione thought about asking for help, asking McGonagall whether she knew what to do with someone who was as deep in memories as Harry but she didn't know how to start. She couldn't bring herself to talk about Harry to a teacher, it felt like a betrayal of his trust. "Sorry again for being late." She said with a shake to her voice; she was holding back the tears of frustration for not being brave enough to ask for help. McGonagall nodded slowly, every ounce of her face showing both suspicion and worry.

"Hermione, Ron checked and Harry isn't in the dormitory. Apparently he hasn't been seen since yesterday." Aoife reported. "I'll cover for you in Potions if you want to go and look for him." She kindly offered.

Hermione thought about this for a while, "No, he might be in Potions. If he's not, I'll look for him after." Hermione smiled.

"Right, so shall we go to Potions then?"

Hermione nodded, racking her brain about where Harry might be, she could only think of two places that he would have thought he'd stay hidden.

They waited outside the Potions classroom and Harry wasn't there. The rain beating down outside mixed with the babble of the inpatient students nearly sent Hermione mad. "I know where Harry is." She whispered to Aoife, "tell Slughorn...tell Slughorn something." She called out as she ran off to the first floor.

Hermione had braced herself before she crossed the threshold. "Harry?" She called into the seemingly empty toilet, "Harry, it's me." Her voiced bounced off the cubicles that hadn't been used for years. From somewhere behind her, a tap was dripping, and the sound reverberated around. She walked up the small corridor which housed a row of terraced toilet cubicles. One of the doors on the very end was ajar slightly, indicating to Hermione that she found the right one. She crept towards it and saw Harry hunched over.

He turned to her, his eyes dull and his face pale. He seemed to be shaking, was it out of fear? "Leave me alone." He spoke through gritted teeth.

"What? Harry, it's me, Hermione." She reached out her hand wanting to touch his. He viciously pushed it away.

"Just leave me alone!" He screamed at her, not realising what he was doing or who he was doing it to.

"Harry! Stop! You need to let me in, I want to help you. Let me help you." She took a step closer to him.

"LEAVE ME ALONE!" He shouted as he pushed Hermione back with too much force. She fell and hit her head on the door opposite. Harry looked at her horrified at what he had done. Hermione sat back up, her head thumping from the knock, the dripping of the tap, the rain outside and the thump of students footsteps above her felt trapping to her, engulfing her. She needed to get out. "Hermi-" He began to stutter, but before he could say anything else, she stood up and ran off.

The noises didn't stop, they magnified, everything taking over Hermione's thoughts. She couldn't breathe, she needed to escape, needed to feel free for even a fraction of a second. She ran to the front door and heaved it open. It was raining so much the water was bouncing off the saturated ground. She ran out into it, feeling as though the rain was removing the sounds that had invaded her mind.

"HERMIONE? WHAT ARE YOU DOING OUT HERE?" Someone shouted through the rain.

"BEING FREE!" She shouted back.

The figure ran towards her, now the light wasn't disfiguring him so much, Hermione identified him as Aengus. "It's pouring down with rain."

"I know. Doesn't it make you feel a whole lot better?" She asked.

"I guess." He said before laughing. Hermione started to laugh too. "Aren't you cold?"

"I'm not going back in there! There are too many uncontrollable noises."

He looked at her smile which seemed to be contagious as he felt a smile break out on his own face. "You're mental, Curly!" He joked, having to raise his voice slightly as the wind picked up.

"New nickname?" She called back.

He walked slightly closer to her and nodded in agreement, her cape was soaked through. "Hermione, maybe we should go inside, though, you're going to make yourself ill."

"What's made you so serious all of a sudden?" She questioned, "I thought you were all for the outside?"

He laughed and put his hands in his pockets, "not when it's raining, silly."

"It's cleansing." She joked.

"So is something else, you might have heard of them, they're called showers? They're like rain but warm." He teased.

"Shut up." She ordered, hitting his left arm.

"Oi. That really hurt." Holding his arm limp.

"Baby." She laughed.

"Yeah, I am. Let's go back inside. We can grab some lunch and warm you up."

"But everything is in there. The noise, the pain..."

"What pain?" He asked sympathetically.

"The pain of the person you love hiding in a toilet. The pain of the person you love pushing you -."

"He pushed you?" He suddenly became very serious, interrupting her and standing taller - making himself look bigger in the process.

"No. Well, maybe a little. He didn't know what he was doing!"

"That doesn't make it alright, Curly!"

"You don't know what he's going through! None of us does, we can't dictate what's right or wrong!" She argued, "he didn't mean it!"

"Come inside!"

"No!" She ran down the slope, towards the Forbidden Forest.

"HERMIONE! Come back!" He ran after her, not as familiar as she with the terrain so he was more wary of where he was running.

"YOU CAN'T TELL ME WHAT TO DO." She called back up to him. "Go back to the castle, it's nearly time for lunch!"

"Please just come with me."

Hermione felt a tiny bit like Harry must be feeling, everyone asking to do things he doesn't want to do. She understood the annoyance of it all now; she'd still probably ask him, though; she couldn't help it. She ran even faster, loving the feeling of the rain beating down and the wind blowing through her hair - she felt free. "Leave me out here, I'm happy."

"And I want you to be happy," he said trying to catch up with her, "but you can be happy inside. This rain isn't going to stop anytime soon." She looked up at him, continuing to step towards the canopy of green below. She took several successful steps but on one attempt failed, she stumbled on a dip in the slope and lost her footing. She began to fall backwards, but Aengus managed to reach her in time and stopped her from falling. "Now do you want to come in?" He questioned, his arms still around her waist from catching her.

"You caught me!" She said, sounding astonished, "how did you reach me in time?"

"I did." He smiled, his charm oozing from every crevice, "I'll always be here to catch you. I meant what I said, even someone like you needs someone to lean on sometimes."

"Someone like me?"

"Brave, loyal, strong. I could go on, but we don't have enough time in the world." Hermione started to blush, hoping that the rain and the temperature would disguise this. "Harry is so lucky to have you, but he's just lost in a storm of memories, once they subside, he will remember this." He said smoothly, carefully wiping droplets off her cold cheek. Even in this climate, his eyes sparkled reminding Hermione of Harry.

"I think it's time we go in." She sighed. "Sorry for getting you soaked too."

"Hey, I wouldn't have come out here if I didn't want to." He smiled.

"So you're really going to call me Curly from now on?" She asked as they made their way back up the soggy slope.

"Oh yes, Curly, it suits you." He joked. "Because of your hair."

"Because of my hair." They said at the same time.

They looked at each other and burst out into fits of laughter. Walking uphill and laughing at the same time proved difficult for Hermione has she lost her breath but couldn't stop laughing to find it again. "You really are mental, you know that right?"

"Takes one to know one." She replied. He looked at her and winked, making her feel lightheaded. "Hurry up, I'm starving."

"Wait." He ordered, stopping midway up the hill, "what are we going to do about Harry?" This was the question she didn't want anyone to ask because she didn't know what was going to happen. Aengus noticed the hesitation engulfing Hermione, "we'll figure it out." He added.

"Thank you." Her eyes glistened with newly formed tears which could have been a result of everything and anything. They started to walk again, Hermione's hair dripping cold water down her neck, she hadn't thought about the cold until now making her slightly regretting her decision to stay out in the rain for so long.

"Let's go inside. I'm freezing."


"Where've you been all day?" Ron asked Hermione when she walked into the Common Room that evening. "Slughorn and Professor Curran were asking after you."

"What did you say to them?"

"That you were ill or something, Aoife did the talking."

"Has Harry come in?"

"Yeah, he came running in mumbling something about ruining things," Ron said before going back to his homework.

"And you didn't think about checking if he was alright?" Her voice becoming louder and angrier.

"He doesn't talk to me, what's the point of trying?"

"Don't you dare give up on him, Ron." She said, standing over him, "he needs you, let's call it you making up for running off last year!" She said harshly.

Ron continued to stare at his book, still massively ashamed of his behaviour last year. "You're the person he wants to talk to; you're the only one he will talk to." He said with his back to her. "Just go up and see him, Hermione. You shouldn't be scared to." He turned to look at her, his eyes empty to her. "Aengus is up there with him anyway."

"Call yourself his best friend do you?" She whispered under her breath so he wouldn't hear her. As she walked upstairs, Ron hung his head in shame, knowing that there was more he could do to help.

Hermione knocked on the dormitory door but didn't wait for an answer. "Sorry for disturbing you, Aengus, but could I talk to Harry?" He put his book down and looked at Harry then at Hermione. He nodded warmly and got up.

"I'm just downstairs, Curly." He said as he walked past her.

"Curly?" Harry asked, his voice hoarse and sore.

"Yeah, nickname." She sighed, walking over to his bed to sit down next to him. "Harry, I don't want to talk about what happened, there's no point because it's over. I just want you to get better, but for that to happen, you need to want to get better. I can't watch you being like this for much longer, Harry. It breaks my heart to see pain pouring out of you and not knowing how to help. Tell me how to help." She pleaded, not looking at him, looking ahead at Ron's bed.

Harry held the silence for a while, contemplating what Hermione had said. "You can't, you can't help. Do you know why? Because I don't know what's happening to me." He murmured, tears beginning to cloud his eyes. "I don't know how this is going to end; I don't even remember how it began." He was nervously picking his fingernails, craving a distraction from the endless pain and coldness. He turned to look at her, and she did the same.

"Tell me how you feel."

He sighed, his breath shaking, "I feel as though I'm drowning and no matter how hard I try to stay above the water, it catches up with me, never dragging me down far enough to stop it all. I'm fighting a losing battle."

Hermione looked at him, trying to hold back the tears long enough to comfort him. "You're not fighting a losing battle. We're fighting a battle that we will win." He smiled, her eyes almost like the rain outside. She pulled him in and hugged him tightly, he never wanted her to let go. "We'll go to Madam Pomfrey, she might have some answers and even better, some solutions," Hermione said, still with her chin on his shoulder.

"No. I don't want anyone to know." He said, pulling away from her instantly.

"What? Why?" She said, confused as to how someone didn't want help with something like this.

"Because if I don't know how I feel and why, no one else will. I don't want help from Madam Pomfrey, I don't want help from Professor McGonagall, I don't want help."

"So what was all that a minute ago? I thought we were fighting this together?"

Harry turned his back away from Hermione, "maybe I have to do this on my own, without your help for once."

"Harry, you don't have to do anything on your own, I thought you realised that? You are never alone in anything you do."

"I can do this on my own." He said stubbornly.

"Alright, you can do it on your own." She admitted, "but that doesn't mean you have to."

"I want to."

"So, what does that mean for us?" Her voice cracked, she had a falling feeling she knew what was happening. Harry didn't answer. "You can't push us all away, Harry. We've been through the same as you."

"Oh really?!" He shouted, turning back to face her, his eyes full of lost rage, "you lost your parents when you were one too did you? You had you father's best friend cruelly snatched from you in front of your eyes? Do you feel responsible for everyone's deaths too?!"

Hermione stood up, shaking with anger, why couldn't he just share his feelings, "you know what, Harry? You're right, I haven't been through what you've been through, I didn't spend months and months in that tent with you risking my life. I'm not affected by everyone's deaths. When will you see? You acting like this," she breathed, not sure she could finish the sentence, "is making everyone's deaths meaningless!" She shouted before running out of the dormitory and out of the Common Room.

She ran back outside, just wanting to run as far away from the situation as possible.


"What do you think happened up there?" Aoife asked Ron and Aengus in the Common Room.

"Not a clue, I hope they're both alright," Ron said, "they've never had a real argument like that before."

"Maybe we should go and check on them," Aoife suggested. "Ron, you should go and see Harry. Hermione told me that you really helped him during the summer."

"I guess I could do that."

Aoife put her hand on his hand and smiled, "of course you can. Just talk to him, that's all he needs."

Ron smiled back at her, turning his hand over so that hers fell into his and he wrapped his fingers around her. "What about Hermione? I don't know where she ran off to."

"I think I know where she'll be. I'll go and find her." Aengus said. "Aoife, can I talk to you first?"

"Of course, I'll just go and talk to Harry." Ron let go of Aoife's hand and walked up to see Harry.

"What's going on with you and Ron?" Aengus asked his sister.

"Why do you care, Gus? It's really none of your business."

"After last time, it is my business. I don't want you getting hurt again."

Aoife stood up, annoyed that her brother was getting involved in her life, "thank you for worrying, but I don't think Ron is like Calum, even if you want him to be."

"Why would I want him to be like him? He almost destroyed you, I don't have to remind you what you were like, do I?

Aoife coward a little, remembering what she had endured last year, she pulled her sleeve down a little to hide the sad reminder. "No, I will be careful, I promise. Ron, well, Ron is different. He's funny and caring and I really like him. We're taking it slow."

"As long as you're happy and safe, Fe, that's all that matters."

Aoife smiled, looking down on her overprotecting brother, "see you later, I hope you find Hermione."

"Where are you going?" Aengus asked her.

"To see Ardal and Aisling."

"Say hi from me."


"Hey, Harry. Are you alright?" Ron asked as he walked into their room. "We saw Hermione run out, did something happen between you two?"

"Would you like that?" Harry said bitterly.

"What? No, of course not. Harry, listen to me. You need to stop being your own worst enemy. You might not want help, but Hermione is the best thing that will ever happen to you. She's stuck by your side through the worst times in both of your lives, but you're risking her loyalty now. Even though you don't want to let her in, you can't keep pushing her away. Because if you do, I promise you, you will regret it more than anything else you've done. It will upset you most as well. Please, you have a good thing there, you will get better, you will get through this with her by your side."

"What about you?" Harry whispered, making it barely audible to Ron.

"I'm still here, whatever you need." He grinned, "you can't get rid of me that easily."

Both of them laughed, secretly wiping tears from their eyes. "What do I do about Hermione?"

"Get help, get better." He said simply.

"I-I can't do that. It'll make me look weak and incapable."

"Harry Potter weak and incapable? You've saved the world, let people save you for once." Ron joked. "There's no shame in asking for help, mate. It makes you stronger in my books. Madam Pomfrey will know what to do."

"You really think that?"

"I really do," Ron confirmed.


Aengus made his way out of the castle and down the slope, just like he had done several hours before. The rain was still pouring down with no clear sky in sight. He sighed, getting soaked for the second time that day, he just hoped he was right that Hermione would be where she intended to go before lunch. He didn't know where that was, but he followed the slope down, heading towards the forest. "Hermione!" He called out into the world. He saw a flash of skin and determined it must have been Hermione running away from him. He finally caught up with her; she was sitting on a tree stump with her head down. "There you are! Are you cleansing again?" He laughed. Hermione didn't move so Aengus walked around the stump to look at her in her face. He sat down next to her, looking at the trees in front of him. "Rain isn't just cleansing; it hides pain and sorrow." He admitted, "but it just hides it; it doesn't remove it, Curly."

"How do you know everything?" She said in between silent sobs.

"Experience." He said simply. She looked at him, her eyes red and puffy from trying and failing to hold back the tears. "Pain is temporary, just like the rain. When I was younger, my grandma used to tell me that when it rained, it was the world's way of relieving pain, just like when we cry. She said that rain is essential, without it, this forest wouldn't be so lush and green. She always taught me that everyone has to have some pain, some sadness, else we wouldn't have and cherish the happiness and the goodness."

"She sounds like a wonderful grandma." Hermione smiled.

"Yeah, she was." He sighed, his head dropping slightly. "She taught me pretty much everything I know."

"She did a good job," Hermione admitted.

"I hope so, I try to make her proud."

"You do make her proud."

He looked hesitant at this like he was going to disagree, but he held his tongue. "Ron's talking to Harry. Are you okay?"

Hermione sighed, back to talking about her, "yeah, I'm fine, I just lost it with him. He was talking about how he wanted to do it all alone and how I didn't know how he feels. And then I said something unforgivable." She froze, not wanting to relive her statement.

"I'm sure it's fine."

"I said him acting like this makes everyone's deaths meaningless." Aengus looked at Hermione, the anguish pouring out of every teardrop, he wanted to comfort her, wanted to say something that would help but he couldn't form the right words for the situation. "Even you think I'm a monster." She sobbed.

"No, you're not. Far from it actually. The way you act is completely human. You didn't mean it, I know that and, more importantly, Harry knows that." Hermione continued to cry, not being able to turn off the fountain she had created. "Don't cry," he said softly, wrapping his arm around her shoulders, she slowly placed her head on his shoulder.

"Do you think he'll forgive me?"

"Of course! If not, I will make him." Aengus laughed.

"How will you do that?" She laughed, wiping the tears from her eyes and cheeks.

"I have my ways," he said, flexing his muscles jokily.

Hermione rolled her eyes and looked away, trying not to laugh. "How is it you always know where I am?"

"Just a sense of mine. I'm used to girls running off when they're upset, Aoife always does it."

The rain was still pouring down, dripping off the trees. "Do you think Harry is ready?" She asked, looking up at the canopy above.

"That depends, are you ready?"

"I think so. I miss him already." She laughed.

"Then let's go." He smiled. Standing up and waiting for her to do the same. Hermione looked at her newly acquired friend and wondered what his motives of helping so much were, she would have asked but didn't want to seem ungrateful for the words.

"So, how are you enjoying Hogwarts?" Hermione asked, breaking the rain's dominance over them as they made their way back to the castle.

"Yeah, I love it! Can't wait for the Quidditch trials, though, Ginny said they were this Saturday!"

"Oh, good luck! I'll probably come and watch them with Aoife. I think Ron wants to try out again, he was Keeper." She informed, "what position will you try out for?"

"Chaser I guess, I'm no good in the other positions. I love the feeling of flying."

"You do? I hate it!" Hermione laughed.

"You hate the feeling of being absolutely free? You are an enigma, Curly." He joked.

"You can fall off at any time and plummet to your death...not exactly freeing."

"I guess there is that. Is Harry Seeker this year?"

"I don't know. I know he loved playing Quidditch but the way he's acting, he doesn't do anything he used to love." He looked at her cheekily and she smacked him, "don't!" She said rather forcefully.

"Sorry," he grinned, "couldn't help it!"

"I have to ask, why do you always come and check on me and comfort me? You don't know me."

"Do you need to know someone to want to make sure they're okay?"

"But you don't check on Harry as much as me, do you?"

"No." He agreed.

"Then why me?"

"You're not going to let this go, are you? It's a really long story and you need to talk to Harry." She looked at him and noticed his usually happy face had disappeared and was replaced by a rather grey and upset face. She agreed with him; she wanted to talk to Harry but, she also wanted to know what Aengus was hiding.


"Harry?" Hermione whispered when she opened the door to the boy's dormitory. "Harry, I'm sorry for what I said. I really didn't mean it!" She pleaded.

"Don't be sorry, I know you didn't mean it. I'm sorry for pushing you away. Ron's spoken to me and he's made me realise that I have too much to lose from not talking to Madam Pomfrey. I don't ever want to lose you and so I'll do everything I can to get better." He was standing by his bed, a slight twinkle back in his eyes. "I love you, Hermione, and I'm doing this for you."

"I love you too, Harry. All I want is for you to feel yourself again." She said as she ran over to him. She gave him the biggest hugs and breathed a sigh of relief, she was in Harry's safe clutches once again.

She looked up at him as he grinned, "stay here tonight?"

"I'd love to." She whispered.

"Good." He said before kissing her and moving her towards his bed.

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