PostWar, things are different. Lives have been lost, leaving the survivors to pick up the pieces. A part of the trio is no more, and the loss is felt deeply by the remaining two thirds.
Sleep With You
Disclaimer: If you can recognize it, it's not mine. It you can't recognize it, it's probably not mine either, but you are free to doubt that.
A/N: Thanks to LunaMoon224 for betaing this for me. This started as an attempt to write a Post-War Harry/Hermione, but didn't come out quite right. Yes, in the future of this fic Harry/Hermione happens. I just won't write it, since this is a one-shot.
"H-Harry? C-can I sleep with you?"
The question took Harry by surprise, causing him to cut his yawn short as he spun around to look at the source of the voice.
Hermione was standing at the door to his room, clutching a blanket to her chest, the end dragging on the ground. Her hair was tied in a loose tail that she favored for sleep. She was dressed in a sleeved nightgown, over which she had a pale blue dressing gown. She was looking at him with large, hopeful, but resigned eyes. Seeing her like that, alone and forlorn, awoke Harry's protectiveness and he rushed to her side, placing his arms around her.
She instantly buried her head in his shoulder, and he could feel her hot tears soaking his pajama top. The blanket fell around their feet.
"Shh," he whispered, rubbing circles on her back until she was a bit more relaxed. Carefully, he moved the still crying Hermione over to his bed making her sit down on it, and sitting next to her. She was still clinging to him, although her sobs had subsided.
She looked at him with red puffy eyes that shone with tears. He placed a finger on her lips before she could speak. "Of course you can sleep here tonight, Hermione," he said, raising the covers and motioning her to get under them.
She looked at him gratefully before shrugging off her dressing gown and curling under the covers. Harry moved to the other side of the bed and waved his wand at the gaslights on the walls, turning them off. Moving with months' practice, he got in his bed and relaxed, laying on his back.
He could feel the heat that Hermione's body produced, as well as the odd sniffle. After a few minutes, he felt her move closer to him and hesitatingly lay her head on his shoulder, letting loose a sigh when he moved his arm around her.
"Sleep well, Hermione," he whispered as her breath evened out.
He didn't fall asleep, however. His brain was busy trying to figure out what Hermione's behavior meant. He knew that she had nightmares, and it had been a fairly common occurrence to see her at breakfast with dark bags under her eyes, but she had never talked about it, and Harry had assumed that she would ask for help when she needed it.
As a frequent visitor of more nightmares than he wanted to count, he felt that being pressured to talk about them wouldn't help, not until she was prepared to talk about them. Well, she asked for help, maybe she will tell me what is troubling her.
After that, he allowed himself to slide into a light sleep, prepared to wake at every sign of alert from Hermione. She slept peacefully, however, and wasn't there when Harry woke late in the morning. Her blanket was neatly arranged on the lone armchair in the room, so Harry knew that the night's memories had been true.
He quickly visited the bathroom, and after a shower went back to his room, dressing in his usual black robes. Throwing one last glance at the bed, he went down the stairs, to the kitchen where he knew Hermione waited. She would want to talk about it, since that was how she figured things out. It was a procedure they had used countless times over the months.
He sighed and stopped in front of the door to the kitchen. He could hear the clinking of the tea set as it made tea, a sign that Hermione was in there. She was the only person who could make a good tea using only magic. He knew that the coming talk would bring back memories he'd buried, memories that he'd pushed back, because they made him lose control and he was afraid of losing control.
Ron is dead, and nothing can change that, Harry. And if you're helping Hermione deal with it, then a few more nightmares won't matter.
He smiled sadly at his thoughts. It wouldn't be a few extra nightmares. It would be only nightmares, until he was ready to accept the truth. Taking a deep breath, he entered the room, calling a greeting to Hermione, who was at the counter, her back t him.
"Good morning, Harry," she said, a bit hesitatingly, as she floated a cup of tea to him. She took the seat in front of him, and the two enjoyed a comfortable silence as they drank their teas.
Eventually, Hermione finished her tea and set the cup on the table, pushing it away from her. Harry smiled to himself. She had taken to pushing the empty plates or cup away from her before starting to talk about something important. She often used gestures while she explained something, and had been thoroughly embarrassed when she had knocked a bowl of soup over. They had teased her about it for weeks.
"Harry... about last night..." she trailed off, looking at him.
He nodded. "I'm glad I could help," he said, smiling at her. "After all, you helped me through many of my nightmares."
Her face pinked. "Yes, but you didn't-" She stopped at seeing his grin and smiled at him, knowing he was teasing.
After a few seconds, her smile faded and she sighed.
"I see... them. Ron. Crying, asking me why I left that night. Ginny, yelling at me, throwing the badge. Burning my book. Saying it's all my fault. You, turning away-"
"I would never turn away from you, Hermione," Harry interrupted, knowing just how much that mattered to her.
She smiled shakily at him and continued. "Sometimes, I wake up, and I'm all alone and I'm afraid to close my eyes, b-because then they'll be back!" She took a few deep breaths, calming herself. "Sometimes, I fall back asleep, and I see the last battle, I see Ron."
Harry inwardly winced, while moving to sit next to her. During the final battle, Ron had taken out Nagini, by throwing himself bodily at the snake and hacking at it with Gryffindor's sword. He had killed it, but at the cost of his own life.
Nagini's death had saved Harry and Hermione, creating a distraction that allowed them to cast the powerful charm that would banish Voldemort's soul from the world. Both had collapsed then, spent. Harry had been plagues for nightmares for months, but it was nothing compared to what Hermione had gone through.
The Weasley family shunned her, blaming her for Ron's death. The wizarding public wanted to take her away from Harry, considering her the reason he secluded himself. The two of them had retreated to Grimmauld Place, with only a few close friends having access. They kept the rooms they'd used while hunting for the Horcruxes, except that now Ron wasn't with them.
He hugged Hermione, comforting her even as his own tears fell.
"Shh.... He'd want us to be happy," he said gruffly. "He'd tell you to knock off the books and jump on a broom."
Hermione chuckled softly. "He'd tell you to go and join the Cannons, so they would win for once."
"Yeah," Harry agreed through his own tears. Thinking about Ron like that was painful, but it was a cleansing pain, burning away his guilt and sorrow.
Together, they remembered Ron as he'd been, not as he had died. A happy young man that they'd both loved, who could brighten their day with a joke. Who could make them relax in their search, and who could make them gain back their hope when another clue proved false.
"As long as we remember him, he'll never be gone," Hermione murmured a few hours later. They were in the living room, on the couch.
Harry nodded his agreement. He cocked his head to the side, frowning slightly while eying her. She grinned at him. Together, they waved their wands at the large photo on the wall. It was a photo of the three of them, at Bill's wedding. Hermione was between the two boys, and all three were smiling happily.
Once their spells were cast, the photograph had changed. It was in color, not the black and white of usual wizarding photographs. The paper had been replaced by painted canvas, and instead of the three of them, it only showed Ron. He was smiling at them, even as he ran his hand though his hair and glared in mock-anger.
"Bloody Hell, you took long enough!"