A/N: These are all little drabbles that are finished but way too short to be posted alone. It's all HP fic, and any and all shipping is restricted to Harry/Hermione, Draco/Ginny, and Ron/Luna. If you're reading this because you're desperately waiting for me to update something (…not that I'm arrogant enough to assume anyone's doing that cough), I promise, I'm getting back into the swing of things, and new chapters of SoP and Sanctuary will be up soon.
Comments and crit still welcome, even if these hardly count as stories.
All characters and places belong to JK Rowling. I'm just borrowing them. Don't sue me.
He needed her, gods, how he needed her. In his pain and grief, she had been the one to dare step past the walls he had carefully crafted and take away the blame he had felt. "If anyone's to blame, it's Bellatrix Lestrange. She made the choice to cast the curse that killed him. You didn't have a choice, Harry. Anyone would have been fooled by Voldemort's trap. Even I was convinced after hearing what Kreacher said. Had you known, you wouldn't have gone, but you didn't know, and you didn't choose to kill him. You can't possibly be to blame," she had told him, her arms around him the entire time, fingers running through his hair, and it had been the most soothing thing he had ever known. After that, everything had tumbled out. The Prophecy, his fears, his qualms, and his dread of what was to come - kill or be killed, survival of the fittest. And she had been his saving grace then as well, patiently deciphering the prophecy. "Vanquish doesn't necessarily mean 'kill.' If it were as simple as throwing a killing curse at him, he wouldn't be here now. It's got to be something else entirely. Don't let his death rest on your conscience. He's a soulless, evil creature, a murderer - and you'll never be a murderer, Harry. You'll never do it simply because you get twisted pleasure out of it. Let that be the least of your fears." He didn't understand why he had never appreciated her before. Why hadn't he seen that his best friend was the greatest miracle ever given? Intelligent and clever, kind and soothing, and so very understanding. She seemed to know him better than he knew himself, saw the solutions to every problem as if they had been written upon the back of her hand. He needed her like he needed oxygen, and he couldn't believe he had ever tried to block her out. His soul had been heavy with death and loss, fear and foreboding, but she had lightened it so easily. It had always been this way, and had he ever stopped to really think about, it would have been so obvious. When it came right down to it, Hermione had been the one there to save him, from keeping him from falling off a hexed broom to preserving his sanity; she had been the only one.
He only hoped he could return the favor someday. He wanted to be the one to ease all her troubles.
Hermione was his salvation, and he would gladly and forever be in her debt.
The entire hall was laughing, but Ron didn't think it was all that humorous.
Luna Lovegood had entered the Great Hall for breakfast with one of her strangest oddities ever trailing behind her. Somehow, she had charmed the words, "I love you, Draco Malfoy" to float behind her wherever she went in bright green and silver letters.
Everyone thought it was funny. Harry and Hermione thought it was hilarious, though they valiantly tried to hide it for Luna's sake. Ginny had to leave the hall to keep from being seen laughing by Luna. Even Draco Malfoy had burst out laughing - perhaps attempting to laugh off his embarrassment.
But Ron didn't find it funny. Ron would never admit it, even to Harry, but he wanted there to be a different name trailing behind Luna Lovegood. He wanted Luna to be laughing hysterically at his jokes again, or wishing him luck before a Quidditch match, wearing her ridiculous lion.
Ron wanted desperately to go back in time and show Luna that he had noticed her…that he had wanted her. He wanted things to end up differently. He wanted his fear and indecision to go away; he wanted not to have lost another girl to his own flaws.
He pretended to laugh along with Harry and Hermione and the rest of the hall.
Ron looked across the Great Hall at her, and was surprised to see her looking back at him. He didn't have time to hide whatever his face was showing that he might not have wanted her to see. She didn't bother pretending she didn't see it.
When Luna walked out of the hall that morning, the words behind her had changed to red and gold. They now read, "Weasley is my King."
A grin broke out on Ron's face. He glanced over at Draco Malfoy. The prat wasn't laughing anymore.
Ron smiled for the rest of the day.
Draco would always wish, in later years, that he hadn't left things unfinished. He would wish that he had told her he was leaving; he would wish he had come up with a better plan; he would wish his father hadn't been so damned clever. Most of all, he would wish he had told her he loved her.
Love was too happy a thought to allow around the dementors. The emptiness left was far too cold in comparison.
But he never forgot he loved her…he never forgot the moment she told him she loved him, too.
The memories became less and less vivid, but they would never fade completely.
The worst moments were relived the most in Azkaban. He recalled Apparating away as she begged him not to go. He remembered tracking down his father and the other Death Eaters that remained after Voldemort's death. Draco remembered the last curse he had ever performed, aimed at the person he had believed was his father.
It had been nothing more than a clever trap.
His father knew just how to destroy him.
He had not killed his father. As soon as the curse of death had finished its work, the disguise had faded.
He had killed her.
The reports in the newspapers would say that he had been working secretly for Voldemort, that he had tricked the youngest Weasley into loving him; that he had tricked her and killed her for Voldemort. Other reports would say that he had gone mad and killed her on a whim. Those were, perhaps, closest to the truth. Once he had seen what he had done, he had not resisted. The Aurors had been able to take him without a fight, and he had been thrown in with the dementors.
As far as Draco was concerned, he deserved to be there. He should have warned her. He should have known better. He should have never underestimated his father. Lucius Malfoy was dangerous.
Two things sustained Draco for the twenty years he spent in Azkaban - her memory, which was not happy, but bittersweet; and the knowledge that his father walked free.
After 25 years in prison, he heard the news - that his father's body had been found, preserved magically. Lucius Malfoy had been dead for approximately 24 years.
Draco Malfoy died in his sleep that evening.
"I don't deserve forgiveness."
"It's not about deserving - though you do deserve it. The fact is that you need it, Harry."
"It was my fault. Mine and mine alone. If it wasn't for me -"
"Good gods, when will you get over the idea that you're the single cause of everything that goes wrong in this world? There were too many contributors to count. This guilt complex of yours is getting old."
"Well, forgive me - I didn't mean to bother you! I'll just leave you in peace, if it's such an irritation to you!" He headed for the portrait hole. He couldn't take this. It was too hard to breathe.
"Don't you walk away from me, Harry. You know perfectly well that I'm right about this. You know you weren't the only one to make a mistake. I did. Snape did. Sirius did. Even Dumbledore did. Damnit, Harry…this was in motion long before you could have been persuaded to stop it. You're a fool if you think his blood is on your hands, Harry."
He turned back to her. "Why are you doing this?"
"I told you, Harry. You need it."
"I do not."
"You do, and stop acting like a sullen child. The fact is, Harry, that the world needs you, whether you like it or not. And a fat load of good you are, sitting around moping. It wasn't your fault, Harry, but it might as well be if you're going to repay his sacrifice this way! Honestly, Harry…his death wasn't meaningless. He died for you, because he knew as well as any of us that you would be the one. But if you don't move on, Harry, he did die in vain. You're an insult to his memory, the way you're acting now."
He hung his head, slowly going back to the chair he'd been sitting in earlier. "…I'd never thought of it that way."
"I can tell…. You're not a bad person. You never have been, and you never will be. You mustn't give up now. What I said was true - the world needs you."
"Why me? I still don't understand. I'm no more powerful than Dumbledore, and no smarter than you are - why me?"
"Because, Harry…because you're so good." She knelt on the floor beside him, hands covering his. "Because you love with your whole heart. That makes you more powerful than he is, Harry."
"There are better people than me."
"Maybe. Maybe not. But you're the one in the prophecy, so fate must have thought you were worth something."
"I don't like fate."
"I don't either. But as of now, it seems to exist…whether we like it or not."
"It isn't fair."
"No. It isn't." Her hand gently squeezed his. "But you're not alone, Harry. You know that, don't you? You have friends that love you - that will help you bear this burden as much as possible."
"I know," he said quietly.
"I'll never leave you," she whispered.
"I know." And he did.
It would only take a kiss, and Hermione would surrender. Not just anybody could kiss her to achieve this effect; really, only one person could do it. But if he ever did, he would have her, hook, line, and sinker. Really…he already did. And he had no idea. He didn't know that he owned her, heart and soul, and that she would do anything he asked of her. He could have told her to jump off a bridge, and she would have.
He would never do anything to hurt her, though. That was why he held her so completely. He never took without giving back fully. Perhaps he didn't see it, but he was the most completely caring individual that she knew. He would protect her with his life and never think twice about it. He truly loved her, though not to the extent that she loved him, and that was something she was sure she would probably never find again.
He might never return her feelings. She knew that very well. Hermione didn't fear that he would never love her in the same way. Her only fear was that he would find someone he loved better than her, and leave her alone. She could cope as long as she had him in her life. That was the most unbearable thought she had, the thing that stabbed most painfully at her heart.
Hermione would never tell him about these fears. She didn't want to drive him away. She would never tell him how she felt for him.
He walked into the room, and she smiled. He sat down by her, warm and familiar and smelling as he always had, saying hello to her as he always had. He seemed to sense that her thoughts had been heavy, and he put an arm around her shoulder. She smiled again.
If she lived forever, this was all she would need - him, just as he was and always would be. And she could be satisfied with that, if only she could feel secure that he would always stay.
Harry could be forgetful. He had a lot on his mind. It wasn't fair to expect too much from him. Harry had things like Voldemort and homework and Quidditch to deal with, Occlumency to practice, Prefect duties to attend to once the title had been shifted to him sixth year.
But Hermione was still disappointed when he forgot her birthday.
She shouldn't have gotten so upset over it. Harry had remembered her birthday every year before, even during 5th year when his life had been thrown off its hinges. Ron hadn't remembered, either, though Hermione had a feeling that it was because Harry hadn't reminded him this year.
However, she was upset, and whether anyone liked it or not, she was going to cry about it.
And so, Hermione found herself in the furthest corner of the library, a very dusty and forgotten part of it - the section for Muggle novels - with The Secret Garden in her lap. It had been her favorite book before she came to Hogwarts, and she was attempting to draw comfort from it now. It wasn't helping much. Dickon reminded her of Harry for some reason.
Hermione was wiping away her tears, afraid that they might fall on the book, when she heard the most familiar voice in the world calling her name as quietly as possible in the nearly deserted library.
She didn't know whether she wanted to reply or not. If he found her there, sniffling in a corner, he'd obviously want to know what was wrong…and she didn't want to tell him. She didn't want him to feel bad; she understood that he had enough to worry about already.
Hermione gave her best attempt to quiet her sniffles and prayed that he would turn and leave before reaching her corner. He didn't. Hermione scowled as she heard his footsteps approaching. Harry was always so stubborn in everything he did…he didn't know when to give up.
"Hermione?" He came around the corner. "There you are. I've been -" he paused. "Why are you crying?"
Hermione looked down at the book on her lap. "It's nothing…don't worry about it."
Harry sat down beside her. "It's never nothing. You know you can tell me anything."
She continued to stare resolutely at the book. "I don't want to tell you this."
She felt his hand rest on her shoulder. "Do you think this would cheer you up?"
And he placed a small, square package on the book, wrapped in red paper with a golden bow on the top.
Hermione stared at it for a moment in shock, and then looked to Harry. "You did remember."
The hand on her shoulder reached up to brush a strand of hair off her forehead. "I could never forget your birthday, Hermione," he replied. "You mean too much to me."
Hermione felt more tears forming in her eyes as she reached for the package and, with a glance and a smile at Harry, tentatively began to open it.
"You want a cookie, Ron?" Luna asked, shoving a biscuit under his nose. He took it from her hesitantly.
She smiled her usual dreamy smile. "It's what Americans call biscuits," she informed him, and then she took a bite out of one. "Do you like them? I made them myself."
"They're great," he said through a mouthful of biscuit. "But why bother calling them cookies?"
Luna shrugged. "Just seemed like a fun thing to do."
Ron frowned in puzzlement. "You are an odd girl, you know that?"
"Yes, I know."
"That's what's so great about you, you know."
Luna just smiled as he picked up another biscuit. "Though," he murmured, "baking biscuits is an awfully normal thing to do… Is this my mum's recipe?"
She nodded. "She sent it to me by owl. She says I need to learn the family recipes."
Ron frowned again. "The family recipes? Why?"
Luna shrugged. "Maybe she thinks of me as family now."
Ron suddenly realized what his mother was up to, and his eyes widened in horror. "Dear Merlin, I'm only sixteen!" he breathed to himself.
"Yes, I know," Luna said, looking, for once in her life, confused. "Did you think you were older?"
He shook his head. "No…it's just…well, if my mum is sending you family recipes, she's probably got it in her head that we're going to get married."
Luna blinked. "Why shouldn't we?"
Ron felt his face growing hot. "Well…it's not that we shouldn't, it's just…well, it's a bit soon to be deciding upon marriage…we're not even out of school yet."
"My father was only sixteen when he asked my mum to marry him," she said.
"Well…yeah, my dad was only seventeen when - but that was a long time ago. People don't make those kinds of decisions so quickly anymore."
"Why not? It worked then. It should still work now."
Ron gulped. "Luna…do you want us to get married?"
Luna tilted her head in an owl-like fashion. "No. Not really." She started to eat another biscuit. Ron scowled.
"So, what, you wouldn't marry me? What's wrong with me?"
Luna seemed to consider this. "Well, nothing, I suppose. I don't want to marry you now, though."
"…Well, then, why are we even having this conversation?"
Luna blinked again. "You started it."
Ron laughed slightly, shaking his head. "So I did."
I can't help marveling at him sometimes. His kindness and courage are outstanding. I've never known anyone like him, and surely never will again. I wish I could be more like him. When my loyalty wavers and he glares at me because disloyalty is unfathomable to him, it makes my heart ache because I know I'll never be as good as him. He will always be the greater wizard.
I know that he blames himself for everything that goes wrong in the lives of the people he touches. He'll never understand that we would rather die a thousand deaths than leave his side; he'll never understand that we can't possibly blame him. It's not under his control. I wish I could give him more comfort.
He has the most beautiful heart I've ever seen, especially in a teenage boy. He doesn't see it, but I know why he has the power to defeat Voldemort that even Dumbledore doesn't possess. His intentions are nothing but pure, and he loves with everything he has. He doesn't know the meaning of caution when it comes to love. He gives everything that he has, and I only wish I could give half as much back.
I wish I could do more to aid him than sprout information when needed and take on the unpleasant role of trying to control his impulsive nature. He probably doesn't appreciate it. I know that he wishes I wouldn't do it in the initial act, but perhaps he understands in the afterthought and knows what my intentions are. I hope that he knows how much I love him. I've never had the courage to tell him to his face.
He tries not to let his emotions show. He tries most of all to hide things from me, knowing that I'll always spot them. I wish he wouldn't. I wish he could open up to me, talk to me when he has problems, because he so desperately needs someone that he can talk to. I wish I knew what words to say to urge him to speak.
He's so alone in this world, no matter how hard I try to be there with him. He's on a level of goodness that none of us can reach. He's a hero, and because of that, none of us can possibly relate to what he goes through.
And knowing that I will never be able to fully reach him is the hardest thing.
I think I've made a friend here, finally. Possibly two, but I don't think one of them likes me very much. I don't like him very much either, if it comes to that.
But the friend is a boy called Harry. I'm not quite sure how to describe him. 'Unusual' isn't quite the word, though he is that, even here at Hogwarts. I guess...'extraordinary' is more fitting. He doesn't look like much. He's rather short and he wears big glasses, and his clothing beneath his robes is far too big for him. I think that's his relatives' fault, though. He's got really messy black hair and very green eyes, and he has a scar down his forehead that looks like a lighting bolt. He tends to stick out a bit, as you can imagine.
He's very brave, though. There was a bit of a magical accident, and I might have been hurt if he and his friend hadn't saved me. I suppose I should give his friend, Ron, more credit, but I have a feeling that he'd never have helped if Harry hadn't.
He's a very talented wizard, too. He's the best flyer in our class - maybe the best in school! He plays Quidditch, a sport we have here, which is played on broomsticks. He's on our house team, even though first years aren't supposed to play on house teams or even have their own broomsticks. Professor McGonagall says he's the youngest player in a century. And he's quite smart, too, though he doesn't always use his brain, and I think he'll be a very powerful wizard. It's hard to tell just now, of course, but he seems to be doing well in his classes.
I hope he likes me. His friend Ron thinks I'm a know-it-all, and that I'm really annoying, but I've never heard Harry agree with him, so I hope he doesn't. I've nagged him a lot. I hope I haven't ruined things from the start.
But he must have liked me just a little, to help me out, right?
I didn't want to tell you this, because I was afraid you would want to send me back to Muggle school, but the first two months here were awfully lonely, and I know nobody's really liked me. I don't get along well with the girls in my dormitory, and they're the only girls I really see, and you know how boys are. All they care about is sports.
But don't worry about me too much. I think things will be better now.
I'll write again soon.
P.S. My marks are high, and I've been studying plenty. Don't worry.