Title: Come Back to Me

Author: Katie A.

Author E-mail: insufferable_know_it_all@hotmail.com

Category: Romance, Drama

Rating: PG-13

Keywords: Harry, Hermione, Voldemort, etc.

Summary: Harry returns from his battle with Voldemort.

Disclaimer: This story is based on characters and situations created and owned by JK Rowling, various publishers including but not limited to Bloomsbury Books, Scholastic Books and Raincoast Books, and Warner Bros., Inc. No money is being made and no copyright or trademark infringement is intended.

Author's Note: I went with a Moulin Rouge song again for a title -- from "Come What May", the lines 'come back to me/and forgive everything.'

*****

It was several months before Harry returned to Hogwarts. Hermione had nearly gone insane. At first, she had waited desperately for some word of him, so she could find him. Later on, she began to wait just to know if he was alive. And yet, she always seemed to convince herself that he wasn't dead, because if he were, wouldn't it kill her as well?

When he came back, he was bloody and bruised. He merely stumbled into the Entrance Hall one evening, dropping his broom just before he dropped to the floor, losing consciousness. It had been a little third year Ravenclaw who had seen him, and she had gone for McGonagall, who took him straight to the Hospital Wing. In fact, it wasn't until the next day at breakfast that Hermione and Ron were told, and by a student who they didn't even know, at that.

Hermione had leapt out of her seat, knocking over someone else's goblet of pumpkin juice, and had run to the Infirmary, Ron trailing behind. When they got there, however, Madame Pomfrey insisted they stay out.

"Please," she had said, "Keep your distance for now. With Harry's mental state as it is now, he must not be excited. I will have you notified when he can be seen."

Hermione had very nearly broken down. Months and months of waiting for his return, and yet her was still out of her reach.

"Madame Pomfrey, can't I just…can't I just look at him?" Through tears, she added, "Please, I need to see him, just to know he's…he's really all right."

Showing rare sympathy for the visitors, Madame Pomfrey lead them back to a private room where Harry was sleeping. Quietly, she opened the door, and Hermione stepped in after her, her view initially blocked by the nurse. She stepped around her, however, and it was a moment before she fully took in Harry's appearance.

The first thing she noticed was that he was thinner. His bones jutted out clearly, his shoulders, arms, ribs, all sharply accentuated. He was shirtless; Hermione wondered if he had come back that way, and wondered again while Madame Pomfrey hadn't put pajamas on him. He was probably freezing. His skin was pale and white. It looked as if he were a skeleton, his skin the same color as bone, except for the new blemishes he wore – dark bruises, some small, some eerily large, and cuts, scabbed over, a few fresh and bandaged.

Hermione felt her lip start to quiver, and her eyes stung with tears. This was her Harry, frightfully resembling a corpse. She couldn't help it; she cried. Vaguely, she felt an arm go around her and steer her out of the room.

"Hermione," Ron said gently, "Harry will be fine. He's going to heal –"

"I know he will," Hermione interrupted with a sniffle. "It's just – seeing him like that. I can't bear it."

Ron looked sympathetic. "He does look pretty bad… Come on, let's get out of here before Madame Pomfrey takes us by force."

And so, they when to their classes, as if everything was normal. By then, nearly everyone knew about Harry's return, and were constantly questioning Hermione and Ron. They were often disappointed; they knew very little more than everyone else.

That night, Hermione found herself all alone in the common room, long after everyone else had gone to bed. She had to go see him again; that was all there was to it. How could she not? It would be dangerous, of course; Harry would have taken his Invisibility Cloak with him, so she would have to be quiet, and sneaky. Harry was worth it, though. It didn't matter how many detentions she got trying to get to him.

Decisively, she put a silencing charm on her slippers and headed out the portrait hole, ignoring the inquiries of the Fat Lady as she headed toward the Hospital Wing. Surprisingly, the only problem was a near run-in with Flitwick, but he was easy enough to hide from. It wasn't long before she was creeping into the Hospital Wing, putting Silencing Charms on the doors as she opened them.

Finally, she was alone with Harry. He was unconscious, but dreaming. She could see his eyes moving beneath the lids. He murmured something unintelligible as she sat down on the bed beside him.

"Harry?" she whispered to him, wondering if there was any danger in trying to wake him. Madame Pomfrey had said he wasn't in the best of mental health, but…was he sane enough to speak to her, calmly?

"'Mione," she heard him mumble. She watched his face carefully; he was obviously quite asleep. "Hermione," he said again, "You can't take her…"

Hermione froze. He was having a nightmare. On its own, her hand went to smooth back the hair from his forehead – it had now become very long. He made an indistinct sound, but seemed more peaceful.

"They won't take me, Harry," she whispered instinctively. "They're gone now; they can't get me."

Hermione moved to stroke his cheek. There was a scar there now; she wondered what had happened to create it. It seemed entirely healed, however. She sighed. How many scars would he have, in the end?

Her eyes shifted, and she realized with a start that Harry was now awake. She froze. How would he react?

Harry smiled. And she relaxed, continuing to tenderly run her thumb along his cheek.

"Can you forgive me?" he asked hoarsely. "I'm sorry – for everything that happened before I left, and for never writing – I would have, if I could have taken Hedwig, or borrowed an owl – I –"

"Shh," she interrupted, "There was never anything to forgive. You did what you had to do. Don't worry about a thing."

"He's dead," Harry rasped. His mouth curved, the barest of smiles. "Maybe this will be my last time in the Hospital Wing."

Hermione chuckled, though his words had left her with the heaviest kind of relief. "Knowing you, I doubt it."

With a slight grimace, Harry shifted.

"Are you in a lot of pain?" she asked. The thought that all of his battle wounds might actually be hurting him at this point hadn't quite crossed her mind.

"Not anymore," he said sweetly, and Hermione felt her cheeks burn. Harry's romantic side was something she had never seen, but she had a feeling she would enjoy it.

"Hermione?"

"Hmm?"

"I've been awake for at least two minutes, and I still haven't gotten a proper kiss out of you."

"Oh, what a terrible hardship," she said sarcastically, though she couldn't stop a smirk.

Harry pouted. "It really is." He attempted to sit up on his elbows, and winced. Hermione pushed him back down.

"Don't go trying to get up. You'll end up hurting yourself even more."

Slowly, she leaned forward and offered him the previously discussed kiss. His lips were rougher than she remember, but she supposed three months doing God-knows-what could do that to a person. Nevertheless, this kiss was much more enjoyable than their first two.

Hermione broke away, smiling shyly. Harry grinned in response, saying, "Well, it seems I can die happily now. Granted, I could die a lot happier if I could have another fifty years or so of that."

"We just might be able to work that out."

~el fin~