Thanks: To my lovely and talented beta, Miss Felicity Gemfiar. You're a wonder, darling.
Tabi tatsu kimi ni
Tsumetai senaka misete
Kitte ita yo – hitori tatakau no?
Zurui yo ne
"Kaette kuru kara"
Oikoshite yuku kimi no koe
Ijihatte, tsuyoi furi
Ikanaide to namida koboshitara?
Ima wa dekiru, donno koto mo
Ienakatta, sen no kotoba o
Harukana kimi no senaka ni okuru yo
Tsubasa ni kaete
You're leaving on your journeyColdly you turn your back on me
I heard – you're fighting alone?
"I'll be back"
You're voice, passing me by
Being stubborn, pretending to be strong
Turn back time: should I have screamed?
Let loose the tears with a "Don't go"?
Now I can do anything
I couldn't say those thousand words
I'll send them to your far-away back
Turn them into wings
n 1000 Words; Koda Kumi
It had been three months. Three long months since Voldemort fell and the war had ended. Muggles and wizards died by the hundreds before those fearful years had come to an end and the list of the missing grew steadily shorter.
Among those missing was one Harry Potter.
Hermione stood outside the Burrow, two fingers in her mouth, a shrill whistle escaping her lips. She felt particularly frantic and whistled with such force her cheeks and forehead turned crimson.
Presently, a hand appeared on her wrist, drawing her fingers to her side. Hermione turned to find Ron standing behind her, crystal blue eyes mirroring her own misery
"C'mon inside, Hermione," he urged gently; he had not released her wrist and he pulled her toward the house.
"Not yet," Hermione pleaded, squinting down the dusty road. She raised her other hand and drew a deep breath, but Ron spun her around, cutting off her single-noted call.
"Hermione, you've been doing this for weeks. He's … he's not coming. He can't hear you," Ron said firmly, blue eyes fixed determinedly on her.
"He can hear me. He always heard me," Hermione's voice faded to a whisper. Ron took a shaky breath.
"Yeah. Yeah, I know. But we're not at Hogwarts anymore. England's a lot bigger than Hogwarts," he said, shifting his eyes away from Hermione's. She bit down on her lip.
"I suppose," she said, "But I can't … he's … oh, Ron!" She threw her arms around him and clung to him tightly, tears spilling from her eyes, streaming down her cheeks. Ron kissed the top of her head and held her firmly.
"I know, I know. He's my best friend too, Mione," Ron reminded her grimly, suddenly blinking very rapidly; he tried to smile in a reassuring way, but somehow it seemed horribly strained.
At length, Hermione pulled away, wiping her eyes.
"I'm sorry," she said weakly.
"Why?" Ron raised an eyebrow at her.
"For … for being so silly. For thinking he really could hear me."
Ron snorted derisively. "As if. You're never stupid, Hermione; I really don't think it's possible for you. You just have more hope than the rest of us and that's nothing to be sorry for." He put an arm around her, still grinning in an artificial manner.
Hermione watched him, her best friend of a little over ten years. He hadn't understood much (if anything) back in school. But times had changed; the war had forced Ronald Weasley to mature much faster than he should have. Hermione looked up at him and smiled a little sadly, Ron did not seem to notice; he simply looked up at the house.
''I'm going to bed. Will you be all right?'' Ron asked, peering down at Hermione.
''Yes. Goodnight, Ron,'' she replied. He nodded, pushing open the front door.
''Goodnight.'' He hugged her tightly before heading into the kitchen.
Hermione turned toward the spiralling staircase and started up toward Ginny's room.
Hermione had been staying with the Weasleys for the past three months and was given her own room; recently, however, she had taken to sleeping in Ginny's room: the window overlooked the front of the house. Hermione peered out of it, watching the dusty road. For a moment, she considered whistling; but doing so would most surely wake not only Ginny, but also Bill in the room next door. Hermione glanced over at the younger girl before crossing to the camper bed she slept on. Sitting down, her gaze was once again drawn out the window; in the distance, she could see what looked to be fireworks. Colours of all sorts dotted the evening sky and Hermione could not help smiling.
Yes, things had indeed changed; it sometimes seemed to Hermione that she hardly recognized Ron.
Ron. He was fortunate in having most of his family home again. Every one of the Weasley children (save Ginny, who had been forbidden by her mother) had gone to fight after leaving Hogwarts. Charlie was last seen leading an assault on Malfoy Manor; Percy and Fred had been cut down in an unspeakably horrific manner; and Mr. Weasley had leapt in front of an Avada Kedrava Curse aimed at George. Bill had returned physically unharmed, but something funny had been done to his mind: he was rather like a five-year-old child.
Harry had not wanted Hermione to leave with him and Ron.
"Take care of Mrs. Weasley and Ginny," he had asked of her, luminous green eyes earnest.
It had been five months since she last saw him; he had been allowed a visit to the Burrow two months before the end of the war. He sent word by owl and Hermione had stood outside the Burrow whistling until she heard an answer and saw him making his way slowly toward her. He limped slightly, but ran into her arms nonetheless. He had seemed so tall and possessed a new grimness in his eyes not there before -- but his inky black hair stuck up at every angle in that comfortingly familiar way, his round glasses were horribly smudged, as usual, and he grinned with a boyish gladness she had rarely seen since they were eleven; he held her tightly and Hermione's heart felt as though it would burst at any moment, as wave after wave of elation coursed through her body.
She never really understood how whistling had come to be their call for one another; only that she had always been fairly decent at it. Sixth year had been unbearably tense, especially the first few months. She was not sure how it happened, but suddenly she and Harry were leaving the Great Hall during meals, or the common room for a walk around the lake. If Hermione was in a particularly foul mood, she would run down to the lake and her piercing signal would escape her.
Harry, in particular, could often be found in an especially dark disposition – it could last for days, or hours – and then suddenly he would cease whatever he was doing and leave the room; moments later, a high-pitched whistle would reach Hermione and she would follow.
They never had to whistle when the other was in danger; excepting, of course, the summer before seventh year, when Hermione exited Flourish and Blotts to find herself faced with four Death Eaters.
It must have seemed a strange habit to everyone else, Hermione reflected, especially Ron, to see his best friend and former girlfriend leaving him alone all the time. Poor Ron; he had not understood. But neither had Harry or Hermione, really. They cottoned on to the urge to get away – from everything, Ron included – and walk around the lake, as many times as it took to quell whatever storm had been brewing, however strong or weak.
Hermione glanced out the window again. The fireworks were still there, brighter than ever.
She knew sometime toward the end of sixth year she began to whistle just to spend time alone with Harry. At those moments, she felt unsure of why she wanted Harry alone. He perhaps noticed this, for it was often during these times that she had nothing to say and they circled the lake in a comfortable silence.
Harry finally brought the matter to light one month before end of term.
It is just before dusk; Harry looks out at the lake, still in his Quidditch robes. Hermione feels suddenly very glad of him, of everything about him.
He stops walking unexpectedly and peers down at her.
"You wanted to talk, Hermione, but all you've said is hello," Harry says in a shrewd tone, his brilliant eyes glittering. Hermione shifts awkwardly.
"I … just don't know what to say is all." It's uncanny how true this statement is; Hermione does not know how to capture her feelings into words, and perhaps that was the reason for her silence the whole time.
She chances a glance at him; his eyes are narrowed in a keen way that makes Hermione's heart flutter and she fidgets nervously. It's a rare occasion when Harry wears that insightful expression; she feels sure he knows something she does not. The thought makes her both indignant and uneasy. She swallows hard and looks up at him again. He's grinning, smirking in that irritatingly knowing way. She wants to demand what's so funny, but before she can, he leans down and kisses her softly.
Her brain seems to turn to mush; the first thought to fully form is how deliciously right this feels. The second is one of shock and insists upon knowing why her best friend – and Harry Potter – is kissing her in such an un-best friend-like fashion. She then shivers and both thoughts are lost in the mush which hopefully will form into a brain again; she wraps her arms around Harry's neck and draws him closer, all at once understanding her new feelings, her new impulses to keep Harry to herself. She's a bit miffed Harry knew before she did (the urge to be the best never faded, I'm afraid), but she can easily forgive him. And then Harry is saying something; Hermione is not sure what, but she nods anyway and the rest is lost in a whirl of colour –
Colours rather like those fireworks. Hermione peered outside again. Red and gold, just like Harry's Quidditch robes. Fancy that.
The door suddenly flung open so hard it hit the wall with a loud thud and bounced off. Hermione leapt to her feet, squinting as the room suddenly filled with light.
"S'happening?" Ginny muttered thickly, sitting up; but it was only Ron, holding his brightly lit wand in front of him. Hermione frowned upon closer inspection of him. He looked puzzled, and slightly pale.
"What is it, Ron?"
He did not answer; his attention seemed to be caught on something outside.
"Hermione …" he paused, at a loss for words; "Hermione … I think … I think it's …"
Hermione's breath caught in her throat and she felt her heart skip a beat. Ginny was looking at them with bewilderment, obviously wishing to go back to sleep. Hermione stared at Ron, unable to speak. She finally pushed past him, sprinting down the stairs. Her heart raced and her mind became a flurry of wild thoughts.
Doubt was cast from her mind when she heard the answer to all her hysterical whistling. She stumbled outside, skimming the front yard.
Red and gold sparks exploded in the sky, illuminating a tall, lanky figure with hair sticking up in a more unruly fashion than ever.
"Harry … " Hermione breathed, hardly noticing he seemed to be throwing something into the air. Relief suddenly washed over her, and gladness such as she had never known filled her.
She raised her right hand and whistled stridently. Harry paused and a moment later his reply penetrated the silence. Hermione dashed down the road. Harry approached her; she saw him toss something into the air. Red and gold flashed above him.
Red and gold.
"'Lo," Harry said, casually, green eyes sparkling.
"Hello, Harry." Hermione smiled up at him. They stood for a moment, simply staring at one another; then Harry grinned widely and pressed his lips to hers. Hermione was startled by the suddenness of the action, but was quick to forgive him. She wrapped her arms around his neck, forgetting everything save her thankfulness at his being there, his being alive.
And like so many years before, Hermione was swept away in a whirlwind of red and gold, and the feeling of Harry's lips on hers. She heard Ron in the distance, shouting something intelligible, and what might have been Ginny's reply; she did not care, all she knew was that Harry was here now. There will always be an answer to her whistle.