A/N: I wrote this oneshot during a trip this past weekend to visit two really good friends I met through R/Hr fandom. It is very inspired by the song "Acacia" by Twiceyoung, which I listened to quite a lot on my drive. Hope you enjoy x
Also, if you are waiting for updates to my WIPs (7 Years, Pause), I am working on them but had a couple of setbacks when I got really sick right after the new year and was then quite behind preparing for a school exam. But those updates should be coming soon now. Thanks for your patience!
It was much too late to be awake in her bunk, twisting and turning under wool blankets, lost in a jumper she'd nearly forgotten used to be his. Somewhere along the way, they'd stopped noticing what belonged to whom. They'd reach blindly into her bag for socks, toothpaste, scarves. She'd slide her hands into his gloves before her night watch, refill his cup with fresh tea, use the closest wand to dim the lanterns or light a fire.
Her left wrist still felt a bit sore when she moved it too quickly, their frantic escape from Lovegood's nearly a month ago still heavy on her mind. Insomnia often plagued her, lists of names and dates and figures running like ticker tape, memorised passages of so many books fading in and out. But what kept her awake tonight was much deeper, a hollow longing that seemed almost immovable now.
How would things have been had he never left? If she'd convinced him to stay, if her pleading words had been enough…
She sighed, rolling over in her bed, immediately in search of his dark form, where it was usually stretched out on his own bunk, across from her.
But he was gone.
She sucked in her next breath and sat up, a sizzle of numb nerves running down her limbs before she calmed her pulse with logic. He was back, for good. He wouldn't leave them again - not by choice. The fact that she knew this, as well as she did, rang loudly through her. And yet, they still spoke in short sentences, he was still much too careful around her, always afraid to make one more mistake.
She got up to find him, if not altogether worried, at least curious. She wasn't sleeping, anyway.
As she walked through to the sitting room, she spotted him immediately, sound asleep on the sofa, lying on his back, feet hanging over the edge and his head resting, tilted slightly to one side, on a flat cushion. The frayed end of a purple scarf caught her eye, draped across his chest. Her scarf.
With a shaky sigh, she sat on the floor, quite close, tucking her knees up to her chest. He'd been out here, working on the wireless, when she'd gone to bed. Now, it appeared he'd moved on to a stack of her notes on the coffee table and a thick book, which was lying face down and open across his stomach, as if he'd fallen asleep in the midst of reading it. She watched it rise and fall as he breathed deeply, strangely mesmerised by the sight, until she finally blinked slowly and looked up at his face again.
He seemed so peaceful, in sleep. She longed to somehow join him there, to find him in his dreams where, just maybe, the war was over. They were safe. Selfishly, she wondered… did he see her there, right now? She nearly rolled her eyes at herself. She was tired and overwhelmed and of course he wasn't dreaming about her...
His eyebrow twitched, and she held her breath. But then he exhaled through gently parted lips, and she copied the action with her own soft sigh.
How had they wound up here? When she'd briefly gone home, the previous summer, she'd imagined they might actually be together, by the time they left for the mission. She'd comforted her limitless fear of the vastly unknown and daunting tasks that lay before them by imagining at least she could hold his hand. And they had done, once, lying on the floor at Grimmauld Place, replacing the dreams of her future with memories she'd cling to on quiet, frozen nights.
Now? Now he was sleeping on the sofa, wearing her scarf, afraid to say the wrong thing to her. Too polite, too nervous to be himself… the person she loved with her whole heart and more.
She was filled with urges to touch him, frequently, compounded now by him sleeping so peacefully in front of her, in the dark. So, her eyes followed the curves and paths her fingers couldn't take.
His jaw and cheeks were heavily peppered in glinting ginger and copper stubble, freckles disappearing underneath. A twist of his shaggy hair was ticking his cheek, and she could tuck it back behind his ear, so easily. She could trace the outlines of his face, milky skin over jaw joints and temples. And she could watch his feather-light eyelashes flutter, hoping to catch an arching brow if he woke and found her here beside him.
Her eyes drifted down his arm to his wrist, watching the hands of his watch tick around, half past four in the morning. It was so dark and cold, and Harry was awfully quiet, outside on his watch.
She licked her lips and reached for the open book across his stomach, carefully lifting it off of him and realising… He'd been reading Hogwarts, A History.
Her eyes welled with tears, but, almost immediately, the exact thing she both feared and quietly hoped for happened slowly. He shifted on the sofa and cracked open his eyes.
She inhaled shakily as he cleared his throat.
"Sorry," he continued, when she didn't speak. "M'I supposed to be on watch?"
"No." She dropped the book to the floor and sat up on her knees, bringing her face a bit closer to his. "I couldn't sleep. Wondered where you were."
"Oh." He stared up at her for a silent moment before she watched his throat move as he swallowed. "Well, you've found me."
And there was that feeling, a pendulum swinging, never sure if her polarising assumptions were closer to accurate on the side of optimism… or this. Did he want her to leave him alone? He'd come back for Harry, for the mission. Not for her.
But he was wearing her scarf.
He pushed up slightly on his right forearm, bringing their faces even closer together. He was studying her with a changing expression, slowly morphing from startled and cautious to curious and almost hopeful. Aside from those first few moments, when she'd run furiously over to hit him, this was the closest they had been since he'd come back.
"Why can't you sleep?" he asked, surprising her.
She shook her head, thinking she wouldn't be able to answer him. But then, all of a sudden, she was speaking in a hoarse whisper.
"What's going to happen with us?" She couldn't believe her own words, that she'd actually said them out loud.
He moved the tiniest bit closer.
"We'll be alright," he said, somewhat shakily. "We've got the sword now. We've just got to find-"
"You know that's not what I meant."
She rested her hand on the sofa, an inch away from his.
"Yeah, I know," he confirmed, nearly under his breath.
She felt a chill down to her bones, and she wanted nothing more than to shut out the whole rest of the world and wrap herself in his arms, like her scarf round his neck and his jumper against her bare skin… Was that why they did it, an inadequate replacement for the words they hadn't said and the touch they truly craved?
"Every time I think maybe we can work it out," she began, "as soon as this one more thing is done… it just gets worse and worse. Am I wasting too much time? Or maybe it's just too late."
Her voice broke on her final words. In her heart, she knew they weren't true. But it was so, so dark. There was no one left to help them, now. They were so alone. And the dreary sky continuously alternated between sheets of shadowy rain clouds during the day and inky, silent black through the night. She was constantly searching for light, a pinprick that grew to a hopeful conclusion. That's where she saw them, together. But it felt monumentally far away.
"Never gonna be too late," he said in a low, startlingly sincere voice.
She licked her bottom lip and couldn't blink as he propped up further on his arm. He was so close… but then he stretched his long fingers along the sofa cushion until they touched the tips of hers.
Her eyes were inexplicably drawn back to the shaggy bit of slightly curling hair that was out of place and tickling his cheek. Trembling, she reached up and tucked it behind his ear, and the corner of his mouth twitched up into an adorable grin.
"Why can't the bloody war be over now?" she whispered. "We're just… stuck thinking about this one thing, all the time…" Her icy fingertips brushed across his flushed cheek. "It feels impossible, and I-"
"Two things," he interrupted.
"I think about two things, all the time," he explained, a raw scratchiness to his voice again. "The war… and you."
She'd been searching so desperately for light, but she saw so clearly now that she'd been looking the wrong way, all this time. He was here with her, in the dark. He always would be, until they reached the end, together.
Her bottom lip trembled and he furrowed his brow, forehead creasing. But she moved closer, tips of her fingers lingering on his jaw, until her face was a breath away from his, heart pounding.
"I don't want to keep waiting for the next thing to be over."
And, with all the lanterns burned out, hidden in velvet night, it was so perfectly clear. He never wanted to, either. He lifted his hand to the side of her neck, and the tip of his nose just barely touched hers.
"Neither do I," he whispered back, as they tilted their heads and closed their eyes.