Summary: She awoke to singing. Tomione. Siren AU. Two-shot.

It started with a storm.

It started with wide, horrified eyes watching her friend face the wind and water with an expression far too peaceful to be real, with eyes glassed over and gate stead as she walked across the deck, past the stumbling members of the crew struggling to keep their ship afloat, right to the edge, where she heaved herself up so that nothing stood between her and the violent, crashing waves. And Ginny Weasley took a step further as if she were simply walking forward, but her foot met air and her body sailed over the side and Hermione found herself stupidly and recklessly throwing herself over the edge of the boat after her.

She remembered the sting when her body hit the surface of the water, the way all sound was suddenly mute when her head sank beneath the waves. She remembered being so thankful for Ginny's bright hair standing out like blood amongst the darkness of the sea, she remembered wrapping her arms around her friend and pulling her to the surface, she remembered screaming herself hoarse hoping someone had noticed them fall overboard so they would be listening for their voices over the howling of the wind. She remembered tying the rope they threw down around Ginny's waist because she still hadn't stirred and Hermione was afraid she would drop her, she remembered grabbing the rope as they started to pull them up.

She remembered something wrap around her ankle and pull her under, and in the dark of the water, in the panic of near-drowning she thought she remembered something like hands, something like nails ripping into the skin of her waist and holding her still as she tried to resurface. But her mind was screaming for oxygen and she breathed in mouthfuls of water and she didn't remember anything else.

She woke on deck. Ginny was crying in Luna's comforting embrace and Harry wrapped Hermione in a hug so tight she felt like she was drowning all over again. Ginny said she remembered a man–she said so with her voice filled with unmitigated terror–and Hermione was certain she remembered nothing of the sort.

She dreamed about it though. Dreamed about the storm and the water and the feeling of drowning and her imagination provided the man she did not remember, somehow both human and not, somehow both beautiful and terrifying. In her dream his hands matched the position of the bruises that lined her waist, his nails dug into the same places she had bled.

She awoke to singing.

The terror of her dream remained for a moment–heart racing, sweat dripping down her back and along her temple, breath uneven–and she laid there for a moment confused by the warmth that seemed to accompany the voice, unnerved by how suddenly she felt warmed by it. Briefly she thought she should be concerned by the way her mind felt fuzzy listening to it, but the thought passed as quickly as it came. She found herself, without quite knowing why, drawing herself up and out of her hammock and making her way to the deck. The storm had since calmed, but she wasn't certain it would would matter if it hadn't: Would she be able to hear anything over the sound of that hauntingly beautiful voice?

She wondered where it was coming from. She wondered who it was. She drew herself to the edge of the boat and stared out at the quiet sea and for a moment it felt as if the water itself was singing to her–and in fact, calling to her, inviting her with open arms, drawing her closer–and if she could only get a little closer, if she could allow that voice to envelope her, discover where its coming from—

"Hermione?" She heard, something cold and gritty and unpleasant about the tone, something so vastly contrasting with the beautiful voice that called to her before. But she listened, she turned, she met Ron's worried gaze–panicked gaze, in fact–and with a quickly clearing mind she could have sworn she heard something screaming, something howling, something tearing into her eardrums with a vengeance and a desperation that had her screwing her eyes shut and pressing her hands against her ears–

"Hermione–" The voice called again, the normal voice, the voice that that felt rough and familiar and brought clarity back to her muffled mind, "What were you–what were you about to do?"

His voice was shaking, and so was hers when she admitted quietly, fearfully, "I was about to jump."

The voice had stopped. Ron stared at her with wide, horrified eyes before wrapping her in his arms as he careened her inside, away from the water, away from the voice, away from the siren hoping to draw her to her death.

Ginny felt somewhat vindicated in their discovery of the siren-infested waters, because at least it meant that what she had seen hadn't been a hallucination, but Hermione could tell that it unsettled her as well.

"We'll keep an eye on each other." Harry had said, "It's unlike a siren to keep coming back, it's more likely there are a lot of them. Look out for each other. We'll be out of it soon."

(Hermione didn't mention the scream. In all she had learned about Sirens she didn't hear about them screaming when they lost their prey. But perhaps she had imagined that in her panic)

Hermione never got to see if Harry's plan of 'looking out for each other' would work. In the early morning of what was single handedly the worst night of her life thus far (she nearly drowned and then nearly drowned again so suffice to say if it wasn't the worst night it was certainly up there) she woke up to cannon fire.

And its among the canons and the shouting and fight against Malfoy's ship–the aristocratic nightmare with a hatred for pirates–that something hit the side of the ship where she was standing and she fell.

She had quite a few fleeting thoughts. She thought that this was the third time in the past twenty-four hours that she was facing certain death. She thought that it was only fitting she should die as a result of Malfoy's ship—he had hated her with a vengeance ever since she first saved Harry from a hanging by his command. She thought, in regard to the timing of her death, third time was certainly the charm. She thought it was over, and fear and panic welled in her chest as the edge of the boat caved in and the wood splintered and she found herself flung over the edge, toward the water. Something hit her head—hard—and her mind was put to rest.

She thought she might've heard her name, and a scream.

(a familiar and head-rattling scream)

She awoke coughing up water, gasping for air, her hands sliding on the sandy shore as she tried to pull herself up so she could turn to her side and hack up mouthfuls of water. The water crashed around her, covering her legs and coating her back as she collapsed back on the shore. She stared up at the sky and contemplated her survival, thought of the way her throat and chest burned like they did that time she had nearly drowned as a child, the time she had only survived by the grace of her mother breathing air back into her lungs, but her mother wasn't here now, and there was no one near her who could have done the same.

She pushed herself up on her hands, looked out at the vast, empty sea, her heart pounding in her chest. She couldn't see her ship. She didn't know where she was. Turning, she could see a town and even ships at a dock a fair distance away, but around her there was no one, no one to save her, so she was left to wonder how she had survived, how she could be laying here on the sandy shore with her ship nowhere in sight. She hadn't remembered being anywhere near land before they were attacked. She should be at the bottom of the ocean.

The terrifying thought occurred to her that she would not have survived without the help of another. So who—

"Is–" She starting, feeling foolish but needing to know– "Is someone there?"

She waited in silence for a very long time, waiting, wondering. But nothing spoke back to her.

"Did you…" She rephrased, watching the water carefully for a sign of someone, of something, of something nefarious. She slowly moved back from the tide so nothing could pull her in. "Did you save my life?"

Quiet. She moved further up the shore until her legs were no longer touching the water. She reached for the knife she usually kept in her boot but it wasn't there.

"I know that I wouldnt've have survived otherwise," She said with a bit more anger, "So you can stop insulting my intelligence and just show yourself. I know you're there."

No one showed.

"You could at least sing or something," She spat, "So I know you're there. So I know I'm not going crazy." At the silence, she felt something close to fury build up in her chest, annoyance at being ignored as well as fury for this creature refusing to do as she said. She pulled herself to her feet and glared out at the sea, "Alright you bloody glorified fish."

She left, her head throbbing and her fists clenched and her throat raw. She knew it was one of them. A siren. She didn't know why and she didn't know who and she didn't know if it was the one who called to Ginny or her or a new siren entirely–or if they were all the same, because it wasn't typical for a siren to return to the same target but it also wasn't typical for a siren to save a human–she just knew that they were there. She wasn't crazy. She was alive and it was thanks to that creature hiding from her in the water–

She should probably thank it. But she would save that for when it finally showed its face.

But it didn't. For a very long time.

(He or she or it or they)

But they followed her. She knew it because they always made their presence known.

When she walked to the nearby town, she got her head tended to in a tavern, drank a sizable amount of rum, and made her way to the docks to steal a ship–a small one, one she could steer on her own–and she was just hiding behind a bunch of barrels waiting for the man to leave his ship when she heard a splash at her side and turned to see her knife beside her.

"Oh you–" She growled, snatching up her knife, "I knew you took it."

She hadn't. She had assumed it had fallen out when she fell off the boat.

She still accepted it, though, because she needed it in order to secure the boat in case things went awry. She peeked around the barrels and watched the man sit in his boat. It didn't look as if he was planning on going anywhere. Until, that is, his head snapped up. She flinched, wondering if he heard her, recognizing that he very well could be violent and clutching her knife in her hand.

But he stood and calmly walked into the water and she knew exactly what was happening.

"I didn't ask for your help, you–" She was already walking toward the small ship while she spoke to the silent waters, "You sea urchin."

She took the ship, because she needed to get back to her friends, even if she had only gotten it via the unwanted help of a sea monster. She needed to get to Hogsmead, because if there was one place she would be able to find her friends it would be there. She was lucky enough that the man had left his compass (and all his belongings, including food for the journey)—although lucky might not be the right word, considering he had only left it because of the siren who for some reason was helping her—but she accepted what she had been given and began navigating her way home.

Her head still ached, and she found the idea of facing the sea alone a horrid thought. She hadn't faced the ocean alone since she had met Harry, after all, and while she wasn't lacking in confidence, when the sun started to set she felt quite a bit desolate and lonely. When she decided to rest–just for a little bit– and she sat against the edge of the boat and stared up at the stars she spoke to the sea again.

"Are you still there?" She asked, pausing in case they decided to respond. They didn't, but somehow she believed they were there regardless. "Can't you at least tell me your name?" She paused again, giving them a moment of silence. "Did you try to kill Ginny?"

No response.

"I suppose I can keep coming up with insults to call you, then," She said, resigned to the silence, deciding not to push the issue of whether or not this was the siren that tried to kill her friend, because she didn't really want to reconcile that creature with this strange creature that helped her. She raised her hand, let it hang over the side of the boat as something of an invitation. She supposed they could pull her under, but then she supposed they could also just sing and draw her in. And she also supposed that would be a waste of saving her, if they killed her now. She didn't even truly know if they were there, because why would they stay with her on her entire journey to Hogsmead? Wouldn't they get bored and leave—

She felt something. Wet, smooth–she was fairly certain it was fingertips running over the back of her hand, an exploratory gesture, one that made her freeze. She took quick, quiet breaths through her nose, tuning into the way those fingers trailed over hers, over her hand, over her wrist. It was strange mostly because it proved she was right–they had followed her all the way out to sea. And it was strange also because it meant that they listened to her, even if they never spoke back. There was something decidedly tender about the way that hand laid over hers, something strangely soft coming from what she knew was such a violent creature.

She threw herself up, turning to stare over the boat but by the time she had moved they were already gone.

She gritted her teeth, her hands tightening on the edge of the boat. She had been so close. "Fine," She snapped at their absence, "I hope you get caught in a fishing net!"

She wanted to rest, she knew that she should, but the feeling of those fingers on her hand made her heart triple its speed. How odd, she thought, to have something in the water looking out for her, reaching for her and touching her hand with a gentleness she hadn't realized something in the sea could possess. But she was angry, too, because she hated being kept in the dark about anything, and this stupid creature refused to allow her to just see who they are—

She set off for Hogsmead again. She wondered if they followed, still.

If Hermione was honest, when the sea creature first got involved in her life, she found it just a little enchanting.

Anyone else might not find it enchanting, exactly, and certainly she would never say aloud that she found it as such. The truth remained that this creature had never shown itself—she had heard legend that sirens were beautiful, but there was nothing to say that this one wasn't hideous and terrifying. Perhaps that was why it stayed hidden.

It was violent, of course, she knew it was. It didn't seem to show any particular violence toward her, but she had felt the violence of a siren before—she still possessed the bruises on her waist. She still wasn't sure if that was the same one.

She never found out how she survived that night. She hadn't questioned it, then, because at that moment she had figured she just got swept under by the water and it wasn't until she awoke on the deck, she figured the marks on her waist had been from whoever pulled her up. She wasn't sure now, she wondered if the siren that tried to kill Ginny had gone after her when she took its prey.

It could be the same one, she reminded herself. Don't get comfortable.

But she just rather liked the company. And it wasn't company, really, but she didn't have anyone else so she took to talking to the sea and fancying they could hear her. And so far they were harmless—or at least, harmless to her, she wasn't certain what they got up to when she couldn't see them. Which was always.

"What do you think will happen if you let me see you?" She asked once, after she had lowered her sails in order to take a brief reprieve from sailing. She leaned on the side of the boat, her cheek pressed into her hand, her fingers trailing the surface of the water. She considered, briefly, the memory of the man in her dreams who left the bruises on her waist. She hadn't truly slept since that dream—she didn't count nearly drowning and waking on the shore as sleeping—and part of her wondered if she would see him again when she next slept. She was already forgetting what he looked like.

"Would I recognize you?" She wondered. She had learned by now not to expect a response. She considered they might not even be there. Just because they had made their presence known a few times did not mean they were constantly at her side. She hoped they did, a little bit, not for any romanticized notion but because if they had an invested interest in keeping her alive then that meant reaching Hogsmead and reuniting with her friends was a real possibility. Could sirens protect a human from other sirens, she wondered?

She dipped her hand fully in the water. It was cold, and while in the harsh sun it might've felt lovely, the sun had long since set and the icy feel of the water sent goosebumps up her arm, but she kept her hand there a moment. Just in case.

They didn't touch her again. She assumed they didn't trust her anymore, since the last time they accepted her hand and reached out for her she had attempted to lay her eyes on them. They were right not to trust her of course, because she was planning on grabbing at whatever brushed against her fingers.

She just wanted to see them. The fact that they hid made her wonder if it truly was that man who tried to kill her. He saved her, too, she supposed, so maybe those balanced each other out, but if he truly did try to kill her friend—and her—she certainly felt she deserved to slap him at least once.

She took a quick, irritated breath when they didn't touch her hand, and she drew her arm back into the boat. "The longer you hide the more inclined I'll be to stab you when you finally show yourself," She spoke to the seemingly-empty sea.

That blasted creature remained illusive.

She rolled her eyes, and deciding she had rested long enough she rose to her feet and raised the sails again. "Alright," She grumbled, partly to herself but partly for the creature if it was listening, "Don't tell me your name—" She tugged hard on the ropes pulling up the sails, "Don't show me your face—" She tied the rope in violent, jerking motions, "I would ask for you to write or something but you probably can't even read—The least you could do—" She called a bit louder, "Is let me know you're there—"

Something shoved hard against the side of her small boat, nearly upsetting the whole thing and sending her overboard. With an undignified yell, she steadied herself at the side of the boat and drew her knife from her boot on instinct.

"Oh—you—if I ever meet you I will gut you, you—" She stopped herself, because while she thought it was ridiculous that the one time they actually respond to her it is to nearly capsize her boat, it left her with the realization that they were still there. Putting her knife away—because she truly didn't think she needed it— she dropped to her knees and dipped her hand in the water again.

She spoke in a softer tone, hoping to draw it closer. "You're here." She said, a useless statement only spoken because she feared if she didn't speak right away they would leave. She wiggled her fingers in the water, "Would you say anything?" She asked carefully. She hesitated, and then a bit quieter asked, "Would you touch me again?"

She waited. It was far too dark to see anything below the surface of the water, so for all she knew they could be lurking just below her fingertips. She was beginning to think her efforts were useless—she had probably insulted them enough that they knew he sweet tone to be false—but she couldn't help but be disappointed regardless of how unlikely it was they would approach her.

But then she felt it. She was careful not to flinch away, keeping herself very, very still as something brushed against her fingertips first, then her palm. A finger, she thought. Their hand.

She made a move to grab them but she met nothing but water.

"Damn it!" She swore, pulling her hand out of the water and slamming it down on the side of the boat. "You'll have to show your face sooner or later, you toad."

She didn't speak to them for the rest of her journey out of bitterness.

Well, she did. Just not kindly.

She reached Hogsmead unscathed, exhausted, and starving. She left the boat at the dock, left the water behind her for the moment so she could get food and a bed, so she could sleep. She dragged her feet across the docks, a disbelieving smile stretching across her lips when she caught sight of the tavern in the distance.

Briefly, she paused. She had the thought that the only reasons he was seeing The Burrow again was because of that creature in the sea who saved her—and who likely kept her safe on her journey home—and the realization, while not knew, seemed different at that moment. She felt something very tight in her chest, and she turned to the sea to stare out at the endless, unforgiving waters.

She didn't want to thank them. Not while they were still hiding. So she didn't, she turned from the sea and made her way to the tavern without another word and without a backward glance.

She watched Molly Weasley's face at the bar when she entered the tavern, wiping down the counter and lecturing some man Hermione didn't recognize. Hermione smiled, because it struck her again how close she had been to never finding her way home again, how much harder it should have been to get home. She watched Molly meet her eyes, the older woman's jaw dropping and her eyes widening and—shockingly—filling with tears as she rounded the bar and quickly advanced on Hermione at the door.

"Hermione!" She called loudly, and Hermione was caught a bit off guard when Molly crushed her against her chest so tightly she could scarcely breathe.

"Mo—Molly—" She choked, her hands resting at the woman's back in confused acceptance of the embrace. Molly was blubbering at this point, Hermione could feel the tears dripping onto her shoulder.

"They told me you—you—" Molly pulled her away at arms length so she could meet Hermione's gaze, the older woman's hands fluttering around her face, her arms, her hair, "—I thought you were dead—"

"Dead?" Hermione echoed. "Dead—were—Molly, is Harry here? Did they come back?"

"My dear—" Molly sighed, cupping Hermione's face, "They left already—but they'll be back, you know they will—"

She did know. But she also knew it could be months before they came back. She felt herself physically deflating at the thought of spending months in Hogsmead just waiting for the day her friends might come back, but—at least she knew they hadn't been taken by Malfoy. They had gotten away.

"How was the ship?" She asked, "Did you see—"

"Hermione!" Molly scolded sharply, "They told me you were dead and you ask how the ship was?"

"As you can see, I am very much alive," Hermione snapped back, annoyed at her avoidance of the question.

"Don't you use that tone with me!" Molly said sternly, wagging her finger in Hermione's face. As much as Hermione loved Molly she hated the way she always treated everyone around her as if they were a child—particularly women—"And you—" Molly's hands found Hermione's waist, patting around her stomach, "You are skin and bone—come in and get some food!"

Hermione didn't argue, because she was starving for a warm meal. She was thankful that Molly didn't ask how she had survived until she had finished placing a feast in front of her, because she was able to stuff her mouth with the food in front of her and pretend she hadn't heard her ask. Molly didn't push it—Hermione was certain she would not be so lucky with her friends—she just kept patting at Hermione's hair—ratty and windswept and rough from saltwater—and smiling as if it was her own daughter brought back to her.

Hermione smiled back, if a bit tentatively and through mouthfuls of food. And she kept all talk of sirens to herself.

After stuffing herself with food and alcohol and nearly getting in a fight with a man who could not keep his hands to himself—she had pulled her knife out to pin his hands to the counter so he would stop touching her but Molly gave her a look, so she slid it back into her boot—Hermione shut herself away in one of the many rooms. She kicked off her boots, and her coat, and for the first time in months she threw herself down on an actual bed and allowed sleep to envelop her.

It didn't last long.

She was drawn out of sleep by singing, for the second time. She opened her eyes, staring up at the ceiling, drawing her eyes slowly to the curtains dancing in the breeze that drifted in from the window and brought with it that beautiful tone. She brought herself to her feet and, as if in a dream, dragged her bare feet out of the room, out of the tavern which had not quieted down even a bit, continuing down the street until she reached the quiet shore away from the docks.

The water was up to her knees before the singing stopped, and she was suddenly aware of herself and her actions and the fact that that blasted creature had just dragged her away from her first bed in months—

"Are you bloody joking?" She seethed, stepping back and out of the water, her wet toes sinking into the sand, "I'm not—I don't even have shoes on—" She leaned over, scrambling through the sand and picking up the first solid thing she felt, a rock, and chucking it out into the sea. She hoped it hit them. "The first time I get a bed in months," She started, picking up another rock and throwing it out, "And you—you needy, horrible—"

She stopped, her anger still very much present but muffled by the realization that while she was away from the public, she was certainly still out in the open, and she didn't need anyone catching her screaming at the sea. She huffed, glaring murderously at the water knowing that that dreadful beast wouldn't surface now, now while she was ready to punch them.

"I'm going back," She told them sternly, "I am sleeping in a bed tonight. Leave me alone."

She tried to leave, but it drew her back, and when her mind cleared and the voice stopped she was waist deep in the water. Annoyance wound through her chest until it escaped her throat in a frustrated yell as she stomped back out of the water. "You horrid, desperate, squid!" She spat, running out of insults, and she kicked the water because she couldn't kick them, "You couldn't go a few hours without me around? You don't even speak to me, if you're going to force me out of bed, you could at least say something?"

She was greeted with nothing but silence.

"I hate you, you child." She spat, but she didn't try to leave again because she really wasn't up for the humiliation in the fact that all this thing had to do was sing and she would come strolling back. Instead she fell back, sitting on the sand and letting the water rush over her toes—because she hadn't put her bloody boots on because that toad drew her out against her will—and she glared out at the ocean for another silent moment. "If you expect me to thank you for not killing me, I certainly will not," She spat, lying back on the sand and examining the stars.

She was wet, and cold, but she wasn't freezing, and she had certainly slept in worse conditions. It hadn't been her plan, however, to fall asleep by the sea. It wasn't as nice as a bed, it wasn't as warm, it didn't smell like sweat and rum and whatever Molly was cooking, but in some ways it was lovelier. It smelled of sea-breeze, and the sound of the waves rolling on over her toes was a more comforting sound than that of the patrons of the tavern.

"Can you sing without drawing people to you?" She murmured, not expecting a response but voicing the question because she had grown used to speaking to them even knowing she wouldn't receive a reply. She imagined it would be lovely to fall asleep to the sound of their voice.

She was asleep before they might've had a chance to respond anyway.

She didn't dream of him at first. She didn't dream of much at all. Her rest by the sea wasn't as peaceful as her rest in a bed, with a blanket and a closed door. She half-woke to little sounds and sensations—the waves crashing against the rocks, the water rushing further up her legs—but when she did wake it was only to fall asleep moments thereafter once more, the moments of consciousness feeling like a lovely dream.

She imagined the feeling of fingertips. Wet and cold, reaching up from the water before her, trailing up over the bare skin of her foot before traveling further up, over the soaked fabric of her breeches. In her time spent between awake and asleep she thought she felt fingers tracing patterns up her arms, on her throat, across her collarbones. She half-awoke and fell asleep to the feeling of curious fingers trailing her skin countless times before she felt them on the skin of her waist.

She dreamed, then, of him again. Pale skin and hollow cheeks, she dreamed of the feeling of his nails digging into her waist and she woke to the feeling of fingers tracing the indents. Her eyes fluttered, and in her haze she thought she might've seen him. Less frightening than in her nightmare, still strange, too beautiful—

Her eyes fluttered shut again, because in her sleep-riddled mind she had still thought she was dreaming. It wasn't until she heard the splash of water that she awoke completely. She pushed herself up, noticed that either the tide had rolled in or she had moved forward because the water washed all the way to her waist when she was lying down. Her breath came in quick, uneven gasps, staring out at the ripples in the water—she thought for a moment that it had been a dream but now she wondered if it hadn't been, if she had been awake—

"Wait!" She called, throwing herself further into the water and blindly reaching into the water where the ripples seemed to have originated. But her hands sank straight through, nothing but water in her grasp. "Oh, you—cowardly—" She straightened, slapping at the water irritably, trying to think of an insult, "—Tuna!" She had been so close—he had been right there, she was sure of it, and she had been sleeping—

"It is you, then," She said, much calmer, much angrier, "You're the one who nearly killed Ginny and then tried to kill me."

Silence. She expected that.

In a softer voice, punctuated more by confusion than anger, she demanded, "Why did you save me, then?"

At the responding silence she turned her eyes to the sky again. The sun was only just starting to rise, alighting the sky in pastel pinks and yellows. Glancing back down at the water, her anger fading only because there was nothing around to be angry at, she began to realize how cold she was. She couldn't be certain exactly what time she had arrived at the shore, but she knew that she had to have been there for at least a few hours. Her sleep had been fitful, unsatisfying—she felt anything but rested, and knowing that even with that horrible sleep she still had not seen him—

But she had. Or, she was fairly certain she had. She still wasn't entirely certain that his face hadn't been a dream. What she hadn't done was caught him.

But she would.

If Hermione ever thought she would be at a loss of what to do while she waited for her friends to return, she was certainly wrong.

Molly worried, a bit desperately, as she contemplated Hermione's return. While Hermione had never been quite the social butterfly—she would sooner be found smashing a bottle over a man's head for inappropriate comments to her friends or breaking into the library after hours because 'I just had a theory I wanted to research' than interacting with the people at the Burrow—she had never been quite as reserved as she was now.

Molly noticed Hermione sneaking off in the night, out of the Burrow and toward the sea. She noticed her spending her days either buried in books—which wasn't altogether unusual on its own, to be fair—or bartering with sailors of fishing nets. Fishing nets. And while Molly had no idea what Hermione could possibly want with those—she had no ship, she had never shown any interest in fishing before—she never had the chance to ask because Hermione was always gone.

Hermione had not noticed Molly noticing her absence. She was a bit distracted, to be honest, by the sea creature that had attached itself to her like a damn parasite and refused to leave her alone. After three nights of being drawn out of her warm bed against her will, she began willingly bringing herself to the shore, her blanket wrapped around her shoulders, usually with a book or a notebook. It was better that way, because at least she wasn't being drawn out into the night with no shoes and no coat so she could freeze by the seaside.

She was plotting, too.

The man in the water seemed content to stay hidden, so Hermione had resolved to draw him out. It was possible she might be able to draw him to her if she nearly drowned, but on the off chance he didn't bother saving her she thought it prudent to find another way. So she began researching traps. While she figured he was probably too intelligent to fall for bait on a hook, it was possible—especially if he was fond of being near her—that she could set something up to trap him. The only problem was, if he was always there—which it seemed as if he was—when would she find the time to set it without him seeing?

She wrote notes in her journal. She figured he couldn't read—when would he have learned?—so she didn't worry about falling asleep with the journal at her side. She usually settled down on a large rock by the water, one high enough that she wouldn't wake up soaked but close enough to the water that that cretin wouldn't be displeased by her distance.

"You truly are pathetic," She told him once, wrapping the blanket around her shoulders as she sat cross-legged on the rock and began to read, "All this effort and you won't even speak to me."

She didn't think he touched her anymore. But then she slept much better with the blanket she brought along, so she might just sleep through his pleasant, feather-light caress. She couldn't help but wonder at the difference between the way he held her when he bruised her waist versus the way he reached for her now. She wished he would just speak to her, so she could ask him what he wanted, ask him why he followed her.

She would ask him soon, after he was caught.

(But he wasn't)

The first attempt was a disaster. Hermione had painstakingly planned every moment—she had paid the old man at the docks to set up the traps so the siren wouldn't see her, she had planned exactly how to lead him there—but then she arrived at the shore and saw the whole trap torn apart and spread along the sand.

Her journal was there too, damp around the edges, as if someone with soaking wet hands had held it.

"You know how to read?" She had practically screeched, picking up the journal and chucking it into the water in an admittedly childish tantrum, kicking at the water and wishing it was him instead.

The second attempt was probably a bit over-the-top. Angered by the fact that he had read all her plans to safely capture him and question him, she had 'borrowed' a harpoon and set it in the bottom of a rowboat and rowed herself a ways out, and planned to spear him through his goddamn chest if it meant she could at least get to know his name.

She wasn't certain if he knew, at first, because when she dipped her hand in the water he was surprisingly quick to loop his fingers around her wrist, something like a greeting since he never used his words. She willed herself to be slow and careful when she reached for the harpoon at the bottom of the boat.

He pushed the whole boat after, sent her into the water, and the shock of the movement sent the harpoon out of her hand. She assumed it sank to the bottom of the ocean, but when she opened her eyes under water the only thing she focused on was the flash of something like—a fin?—glittering in the moonlight which filtered through the water.

She resurfaced, knowing if he was still there he was certainly far enough away that she couldn't see or reach him, she didn't care much if he could hear when she muttered, "Blue?" To herself, her brow furrowing at the discovery. "Or green?" Her hands grasped at her boat which now floated the wrong way round, "I don't know why, but I didn't expect scales—I suppose it makes sense."

The harpoon lodged itself into the underside of the boat with a dull thump, just by her hand.

She screamed—more of a yelp, really—and when she turned herself around she still expected him to be gone. Time and time and time again of trying to see him and finding nothing but empty water had given her the expectation of his absence, but when she whirled around, heart racing and breath fast and heavy, he was there.

And it looked like she made him angry.

He was closer than what was probably necessary, and a quick glance to her left showed his hand still wrapped around the handle of the harpoon. His eyes were very dark, she noticed, but the night was dark, too, so perhaps they were only dark in the absence of light. But his skin was alabaster, glowing in the dim light of the moon, contesting so sharply with the heavy shadows of his eyelashes and his furrowed eyebrows—and he was certainly angry, she had definitely made him angry.

But she didn't really care, if she was honest. It was because of his anger that he showed himself to her, even if he still hadn't said anything in the few moments he remained in her presence, glaring at her as if he was considering drowning her like he probably should have the first time he encountered her. She had so many questions. She wanted to know if she was right and he was the one who tried to drown her and Ginny once. She wanted to know why he didn't. She wanted to know why he saved her and why he followed her and why he never showed his face until now that she had riled his temper.

But instead she raised a hand from the water to tentatively run her fingers along the sharpness of his cheek and murmur, "You look so human," In awe, her voice a breathy tone that could scarcely be heard over the sound of the water, and even that wasn't dreadfully loud.

His change in expression was instantaneous. The furrow of his brow relaxed, not in a way that suggested he felt at ease, but in a way that suggested quite the opposite. Like he was so shocked by the gesture that he shut down, and she felt a violent twitch at the corner of his jaw where her fingers had drifted.

Then he moved. There was the barest twitch of his lips into what might've become a frown, but she didn't see, because his hands found her waist and he pulled her under.

She tried to twist her body away, but his hands held tight, his nails digging into her skin as his fingers curled against her squirming body. Her hands instinctually reached out to press against him, to push him away, digging her nails into his own skin as her own sort of retribution. It was a bit strange, only because the first time she had been drowned by what she was almost certain was him, she had been terrified and confused and hadn't quite remembered the experience, only dreamt about it in broken fragments. Now she felt wide awake, her mind not muddled by the fear from the near-death of her friend, and she found that rather than afraid she felt quite a bit more angry.

But then she could breathe, she felt body at her fingertips slip away as her hands reached back to catch herself as she fell upon the sand, and she was certain that whatever she had felt a moment before hadn't been anger. As she stared out at the sea and he still was not there, after dragging her to the shore without a word, after everything she had done and she finally sees him and then he's gone—

Furiously, she scrambled to her feet in order to stomp back into the sea, whipping her tangled hair off her face and practically screaming with all the anger she could muster, "You bloody cowardly piece of seaweed!" She threw herself back into the water, clear out to where her toes no longer touched the sand so she had to swim and even then she continued, "I am not leaving," She declared, "Not until you show yourself and answer my questions, you horrid, obsessive, pathetic, relentless, idiotic—"

It took all of two seconds for him to have her pressed against the collection of rocks at the edge of the shore where she had spent her nights lately. Her head his the stone with a dull thwack, and instinctually she retrieved her knife from where it had miraculously remained in her book, but as soon as she raised it from the water to strike, he caught her wrist and pinned it against the rock. She might've cursed him out some more, but his hand covered her mouth.

"Stop trying to kill me," He seethed. It wasn't terrible pleasant as far as first words go, and if she wasn't so annoyed, she might've taken a moment to appreciate how different he sounded when he spoke. When he sang it was beautiful, smooth, something not quite human, not quite a voice but more of a calling, something inexplicable and dreamlike. When he spoke it was a bit gravelly, not exactly unpleasant, but not what she expected either. It was human.

She twisted her head so that her mouth was free from his palm, "I'm not trying to kill you," She spat.

His mouth twisted into a distasteful expression and he pulled her wrist from the rock in order to slam it back against it. Her hand unfurled without her meaning to and her knife fell into the water. "Truly?" He asked, a bit sardonically, as if he didn't believe her at all.

"Let go of me, you cod—" She jerk her wrist away, lifting her other hand to push against his shoulder, so to keep her still his hands held fast to both her wrists and pinned them against her chest. The movement brought him closer, close enough that she could see the pinky-red marks just above his collarbone, tiny crescent moons on his otherwise pale, unblemished skin. She found herself oddly entranced by them, because she knew they came from her. When she moved again, it was only to twist her wrist in his grasp so that her fingers could tentatively run over the reddened skin along his collarbone.

It was a long moment that neither of them moved. Hermione kept her fingers poised above the marks. He watched her with an indescribable expression on his face while she stared at his chest in silence.

"Where did you learn how to read?" She asked after a considerable amount of silence. Her eyes lifted to his face when he tilted his head to the side. He let out a sharp huff of breath, something that might've passed for a quiet laugh if it weren't for the frown on his face.

"That is the first question you ask me?" He murmured, his eyebrows pulled together as he regarded her. The bruising grip on her wrists had lessened now that she didn't seem intent on harming him, but the intensity of his presence remained in the way he watched her.

"Well, I already know everything else," She explained quietly, "You tried to kill Ginny, then me," She dropped her eyes to his throat as she spoke because his eyes burned, "Then you stopped, I don't now why but that's unimportant," His fingers unfurled from her wrists so that he could drag his fingertips down her arms. She let him, keeping herself alert just in case he tried to escape again, ready to reach out and grab him if he tried, "Then you saved my life, Then you followed me—that's all obvious, I know all of that, except for perhaps the details. What I don't understand is how you could learn to read when you live in the ocean."

"I don't always live in the ocean," He corrected.

"No?" She lifted her eyes up to meet his again.

"No," He replied simply. "I walk on land, from time to time."

"And that's when you learned how to read?"

"Are you asking because that's your first question or because you're angry I foiled your horrendous plans to capture me," She felt a bit thrown off by his sudden tone, the shift from short, even, explanatory phrases to something much more drawling and sarcastic.

"They—they were not horrendous," She defended.

"Please," He scoffed, and in all her imaginings of what it would be like to finally meet this creature she had not expected him to be so annoying. "You tried to catch me in a net."

"Well it wasn't as if you ever spoke," She fired back viciously, her temper riled at his insult to her intelligence, "I was beginning to think you were a bit daft—"

Similar to the way she had riled at his defamation of her intelligence, her comment sent his expression back to that stony sort of nothingness and he wrapped his hand around her neck, pressing her against the stone. He didn't choke her, not really, just held her there with a decidedly furious expression on his face, his fingers curling around the column of her throat. "I should have killed you the moment I met you,"

"Why didn't you?" She asked.

"You don't know?" He murmured, his hand remaining at her throat while his index finger extended to press into her cheek, his thumb at her jaw so that she couldn't so much as turn her head. She didn't particularly like the feeling of helplessness, pinned against the rock without a weapon to defend herself. "You seem to like to pretend you know everything."

"I couldn't possibly know the reasoning behind your actions, I can only know what you do." She spoke evenly, watching the way he tilted his head to examine her through his dark lashes. His hand was cold, she noted, cold and wet against the flushed skin of her jaw. "So, what is it then?" She prompted, "Why did you do it?"

He didn't answer at first. He clenched his jaw and narrowed his eyes, observed her in silence as if she had never asked him a question in the first place. The silence was more nerve-wracking when she could see him, now that he had her held against the rocks, his hand gripping tightly at her jaw so she couldn't turn way from his intense glower unless she shut her eyes.

"Why did you do it?" She repeated, her discomfort giving her strength in her tone, "Why did you save me?"

"I don't know." He admitted quietly. She frowned.

"You don't know?" She echoed, dissatisfied with his answer, "You saved my life and followed me across the sea, and you don't know—?"

"I don't know," He repeated, with much more finality this time. She thought it strange that he could sound so decided when admitting that he didn't know his reason, that his tone could betray a finality that his words did not. His hand shifted against her jaw, and in the silence that followed his admission he moved closer still, as if they weren't already close enough. His thumb slid under her chin before gliding across her cheek, his fingers slowly threading just under hear ear into her hair. The movement was slow, languid, and each centimeter of his fingers gliding against her skin left a tingling, pleasant feeling in its wake. He was the first to break eye contact, his eyes focusing on the movement of his fingers against her skin.

"I don't know," He repeated once more, his tone softer but no less final. Her hands found themselves pressed against his bare chest, and as he leaned closer still she wanted to push him away but in her panicked movements her hand slid down from his chest to his waist, and she felt something different about his skin. Without meaning to, too distracted by the discovery to remember she had been about to shove him away, her fingers trailed along his side down to his hip, tracing the indentations where his skin became scales. She felt his chest expand when he breathed in deep, his fingers curling against the bottom of her scalp where he had threaded them into her hair.

"Don't you?" She prompted, a bit breathlessly. His eyes narrowed briefly, but did not flicker away from where they had now focused on her lips. He moved closer, a tentative movement, if anything he did could be considered tentative. She wanted to move, to tilt her chin up the extra inch to claim his lips with hers, but while his hand did not have a bruising grip on her jaw anymore, it continued to hold her still. She wondered if it was possible for sirens to draw someone to them without singing, if this moment was charged by her own interest in him or by his own manipulation of her, but then his lips brushed against hers and she was certain that the excitement she felt had nothing to do with a siren song.

It wasn't a kiss, not really. It was what may have turned into a kiss—the barest brush of his lips against hers, the tease of his mouth touching hers—and the way her heart leapt out of her chest was nothing like the way he felt when he sang to her. That was dizzying and hazy dreamlike—this felt like the farthest thing from a dream.

But before he could properly kiss her, before she could push his hand away enough to press her lips against his with more purpose, there were voices from the shore. Indistinct, muffled either by distance or distraction. She felt the way he tensed, his muscled coiling under his skin where her hands were still pressed against his chest and his hip. And then as quick as he always went, he was gone.

"Wait!" She called out in a choked tone, pushing forward away from the stone and back fully in the water, "Wait, no, come back—"

"Hermione?" A voice called. Hermione felt every muscle in her body coil tight to the point where it hurt.



so this was a prompt on tumblr that i answered and it was totes gonna be a drabble but I have nO DAMN SELF CONTROL so then it was gonna be a one-shot but I have NO. DAMN. SELF. CONTROL. So now its a two-shot


idk? ? ? ? It's kind of? ? ? like not a lot happened I guess? ? ? ? ? idk? ? ? Tom is an antisocial mermaid who hates humans so it took him a while to accept the fact that he has a crush and approach her idk? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? And then 9000 words later and we don't even get a kiss I'm soRRY OK

he's like ariel except…evil.

? ? ? ? ? ? ? ?

also if there r typos i am literally….so sorry….but it is 1 AM….and i cannot…..proof read…..for shit…..honestly i h8 myself its fINE

idk guys let me know what you think? ? ? ? This is obvi supposed to be a two shot I've said that like 3 times (WE GET IT MEOWMERS STFU) but like let me know if you're interested in more? I guess? Because….u kno they haven't even kissed so its like idK GUYS JUST

im fine its 1am and I'm a wreck and i hope this isn't a wreck and anyway? ? i love you guys? u r all nice n cool keep it up

jesus christ y do i speak

anyway PLEASE REVIEW let me know what u think and if you're interested in one more chapter? idk?