Disclaimer: I really own nothing here. I don't own Harry Potter because I'm not JK Rowling or anyone affiliated with her. I don't own the song "Fields of Gold" because I'm not Sting. I don't even own the title because I'm still not Sting. I don't own the other bit of inspiration for this piece, which is the amazing picture that is the banner of the website Subtle Signs because I'm not the artist, whose identity I unfortunately don't know, but I assure you I'm not s/he.
A/N: I seem to be on a bit of a roll here. Of course, it's probably over by now. I blame the fact that the seventh book's release date is looming in the very near future, and the Harmony shipper in me needs to write these things before all my hopes are completely dashed apart by the depressing reality of Deathly Hallows.
A/N the second: No, this is not a songfic. It was simply inspired by the song and the picture, and I included the lyrics because they obviously have something to do with the story. So do read them, and then do read, enjoy, and review the story!
When the West Wind Moves
You'll remember me when the west wind moves upon the fields of barley.
You'll forget the sun in his jealous sky as we walk in fields of gold.
So she took her love far to gaze awhile upon the fields of barley.
In his arms she fell as her hair came down; I'm on the fields of gold.
Will you stay with me? Will you be my love upon the fields of barley?
We'll forget the sun in his jealous sky as we lie in fields of gold.
See the west wind move like a lover's soul upon the fields of barley.
Feel her body rise as you kiss her mouth; I'm on the fields of gold.
I've never made promises like it, and there have been some that I've broken,
But I swear in the days still left we'll walk in fields of gold; we'll walk in fields of gold.
Many years have passed since those summer days; I'm on the fields of barley.
See the children run as the sun goes down; I'm on the fields of gold.
You'll remember me when the west wind moves upon the fields of barley.
You can tell the sun in his jealous sky when we walked in fields of gold,
When we walked in fields of gold,
When we walked in fields of gold.
—"Fields of Gold", Sting
The windows of the abandoned house resisted illumination, glowering at the sunlight that attempted to filter through the ever-murky glass. The temporary occupants of the former Potter residence had spent many an hour and much arm-strength wiping the glass, but something about it seemed forever stained, as if the very windows themselves were aware of the tragic yet fateful events that had occurred within their supporting walls.
Despite the poor quality of the glass, enough sunrays managed to slip through to light up the interior, and a young man stood before one of them, his gaze directed heavily at something beyond the window. There was a contradiction in his face, a constant paradox: while his features suggested, and rightly so, that he was nothing more than a boy of seventeen, the expression that those features wore implied far greater age, far more experience. While his mouth was set in a grim little line and his brow seemed perpetually furrowed with anxiety and thought, his eyes were the most telling because unlike the mark on his forehead, the scars to his soul only appeared scratched across emerald irises which now appeared more jade in hue and more jaded in attitude.
Harry leaned his hands on the cracked wooden sill, peering across the ruined lawn and past the rest of the run-down Godric's Hollow. A brittle line of trees encircled the remnants fence-like and beyond the dark, twisted trunks he could catch brief glimpses of gold. He released a low sigh, wondering what the gold was, even though his rational, logical thoughts informed him that it was simply a field; he preferred to imagine that it was a magical place where no shadow of evil dared encroach upon the lovely gold. There had to be somewhere that remained untainted. There simply had to be.
Turning abruptly from the window, Harry climbed the rickety stairs two at a time, suddenly captured by the desire to leave this carcass of memories and visit that golden field, and he knew just with whom he wanted to visit it. At the top of the staircase was the second storey corridor, with several doors standing cold and still and shut. He did not dawdle, certain of his destination: the farthest door from the stairs. His fingers closed about the dulled brass knob and turned it, and the door opened with a gentle push and a protesting creak of barely-used hinges.
The room was similarly dim, but it was also different: instead of the light consisting of mere rays filtering through a translucent window, the whole room acquired a warm glow, and in the hazy half-light, everything was so, so beautiful. The musty curtains were shoved aside, revealing the window and the seat that perched within the gable; strewn around the floor, rising in stacks and sloshing in puddles and perching precariously on makeshift shelves, were dozens of books, ranging from thick tomes to thin volumes and leather covers to no covers at all, only the aging glue keeping the pages in place. The smell of those pages and that leather and glue permeated the slightly stale air—as the window could not be opened—and Harry's senses, and he breathed it in as if it were the only sustenance he required to live. He harbored no particular fondness for libraries of any sort, but he received great comfort from the wealth of battered books, for where there were books, there was bound to be Hermione.
And true to form, Hermione Granger lounged in the window seat, her back propped against the wall while her crossed legs supported a heavy volume with thousands of very thin leaves which made a soft scraping sound with each turn of a page. Her brown eyes raced avidly over the countless lines of script, her thumb and forefinger poised and ready at the upper right corner, the current page already within her grasp. She remained oblivious to his presence, too caught up in her research.
Harry leaned against the door frame, his arms folding comfortably on his chest, and a small smile flitted about his lips. Ever since they had departed Hogwarts and undertaken the lengthy and arduous task of hunting down and eliminating the shattered fragments of an evil wizard's soul, Harry had found himself drawing steadily closer and closer to this young woman who, like he, had been forced to abandon her claim on the title of child far too soon. He attributed the deepening of their bond to the time and support seeking Horcruxes required; he knew well that he would be lost and in an absolutely hopeless state without her, but he did not mind the dependence. In fact, he almost craved it: he had missed their close partnership of their fifth year in the previous term, although he had not realized then how much he had come to rely upon her to understand and sympathize and solve and, above all, just listen.
Now, as the haze of the afternoon sun inflamed her tangle of brown curls, he found himself admitting again what he had discovered somewhere during their perilous quest—that it was not just the curious lighting that made her beautiful, that she was beautiful and always had been. He had been a near-sighted fool (and he could not blame his glasses) not to realize sooner than he had that she was his grounding anchor and his source of logic and caution and that she truly was always right. And more than any of those, he had failed to understand just how much he needed her not only to survive the next fight but to continue living for a future much more distant than tomorrow. Somewhere during those long hours of waking and sleeping and hunting and waiting, his deep love of friendship had transformed quietly, gradually, and irrevocably into the deep love of what lay beyond even the best of friendships, of his necessary second half he sorely missed.
In the simplest terms, he loved her with everything he had and was and everything he possibly could be.
"Find anything?" he finally asked, his voice soft and slightly hoarse from disuse.
She glanced up, and he caught the barest change being wrought over her features. The expression of concentration gently melted into one of quiet, undeniable contentment, although the curiosity that formed her foundation as a knowledge-seeker (and she was more adept in her brand of seeking than he ever was at his own with broomsticks and a tiny winged ball) remained hovering about the edges.
"Harry," she said, and her voice was barely above a whisper, but he did not need to strain to catch every well-articulated syllable. "How long have you been standing there?"
"Not too terribly long," he replied with a wry half-grin. "Long enough, though, to realize that we have spent more time than we should have cooped up in this old house. I fancy a walk out-of-doors."
She chewed on her lower lip, as if she did not want to relay the information she felt she must. "But we have been all around the grounds numerous times. There is nowhere to go and nothing to see, and the risk of our discovery, now that only Voldemort remains, has escalated exponentially. We shouldn't even stay here much longer; as warded as this place is, it certainly has not escaped Voldemort's notice. It would be entirely foolhardy to wander about outside."
Ever rational, Harry thought, his grin still quirking his lips. "But Hermione, I don't want to go onto the grounds," he explained, navigating the sea of books to her side, and he pointed out the window towards the distant field. "I want to go there. I want to see the gold."
Hermione frowned. "It's just a field, Harry. Whatever would you want to stand in a bunch of grass for?"
"It's not just grass," he insisted. "Can't you see how the sunlight deepens the color? Even the shadows of those trees fall the other way; no darkness dares to venture upon it. It is the last remnant of the world we are laboring to save. Surely we can visit it, just this once."
She closed the book, a bit of dust escaping, and she glanced up at him. "You really want to go, don't you?"
He nodded, determined for reasons he couldn't ascertain. "I'll even fetch my Invisibility Cloak," he promised in a cajoling tone, hoping that would sway her.
Shifting the book aside, she swung her legs off the window seat and stood, stretching to ease her stiff limbs. She straightened her robes, one hand automatically patting the pocket containing her wand to reassure herself of its presence. "Get the cloak, then, and meet me downstairs in the kitchen. We'll go out the back door, since we can't Apparate out."
"This place is like our own little Hogwarts," he compared with a broader grin. "No Apparating, sneaking around with Invisibility Cloaks, you always in a library…just like it."
Hermione swiped at his arm, but he dodged out of the way, hurrying down the hallway to the room he had claimed as his own. The hinges on his door creaked as well, and it was but the work of a moment for him to collect the silvery material from its home. It had been draped almost carelessly over the footboard of his bed, but since he used it so often nowadays, he didn't bother replacing it in his trunk, which squatted half a meter away from his footboard.
He skipped steps going down as well and strode briskly into the kitchen, only to find Hermione with a finger placed to her lips and another pointing towards Ron. Their red-headed friend slumbered rather noisily, oblivious to both their presence and the drool pooling on the table beneath his open mouth. A speck of dirt smudged one side of his long nose, and Harry smiled inwardly at the sight, recalling the very first day any of them had set eyes on each other: Ron's nose had been dirtied that day as well.
"What if he wakes while we're gone?" Hermione whispered as Harry arrived at her side. "Should we leave a note?"
"C'mon, Hermione, Ron wake up? What're the odds of that?" he joked, and it felt good to poke fun at one of his best friends again for no purpose other than that it was enjoyable.
As if to back up Harry, Ron gave a particularly loud snore, and one of his arms slipped from his lap and dangled free, swaying slightly back and forth; he made no other motion, however, and remained clearly dead to the world.
Hermione gave an acknowledging, amused nod, and Harry draped the shimmering cloak around them, holding its folds closed with one hand. He had to hunch down now so that their feet weren't exposed, but they had only made it to the rutted lane just past the Potters' lawn when Hermione caught onto his other hand and Apparated. The familiar if uncomfortable sensation of Side-Along Apparating swept through Harry's body, and before he could mentally phrase the question of where Hermione was Apparating them to, they arrived quite solidly in the pitiful line of trees that barricaded Godric's Hollow from the golden field. And before he could utter the question of why she had done so, she had already led him from the spindly, twisted trees and into the empty expanse beyond.
The tall grasses waved in a warm west wind, their tufted tops bobbing in time to imaginary music, and from their vantage point at the edge of the field, the waving grasses resembled the rolling waves of the ocean. But where ocean waves were a deep, dark blue and loud in their rhythmic crashing, the grasses appeared to possess their own individual glow, one far removed from the now late-afternoon sunlight that washed over them, and were almost entirely silent except for a gentle rustling. Hermione did not release her grip on his hand, and together they wandered into the field, each struck by the quiet, unassuming beauty of the place. They strolled idly, venturing deeper and deeper, and without realizing it, they had walked so far that the stark outlines of the trees were no longer visible behind them, and the golden grass stretched to every horizon.
"What is this place?" Hermione breathed, pausing and gazing around in wonder.
"Heaven," Harry replied teasingly, although part of him insisted that his jest was not far from the truth. It seemed enough like paradise to him.
She smiled at that and took another step, but she accidentally trod on the hem of the cloak, causing it to jerk sharply against their heads and shoulders. Caught by surprise, she stumbled, but Harry's natural, Quidditch-honed reflexes saved her before she struck the earth.
Hermione pushed a few stray curls from her face and gazed up at him, their eyes locking for a moment that spanned both a second and a century. She glanced aside sooner than it seemed, though, a faint blush decorating her cheeks, and Harry swallowed against his pounding heart and slowly set her down. He sat beside her and tugged the cloak off them, wadding it into a ball and placing it within easy reach.
"The sky's beautiful, isn't it?" he heard her observe, and he craned his neck back and saw that she was right, as usual. It was as clear and bright and blue as any self-respecting summer sky should be, only a few stray clouds skidding across the vast azure domain.
"Yes," he agreed, his tone almost wistful, and he turned from the vista as he heard her lying down amongst the tall grass. She had one hand tucked behind her head, the other resting lightly on her stomach. He nearly lay next to her, but something kept him sitting, and he loosely wrapped his arms about his knees. Rocking back and forth slowly, he weighed the merits of divulging his thoughts to her. She was always willing to listen, but perhaps she had grown tired of his venting. Or perhaps she wanted to preserve the utter tranquility of this blissful, once-in-a-lifetime day. He struggled with himself for some time and with no clear resolution, but she ended up solving his dilemma for him.
"Something on your mind, Harry?" she asked softly, and her eyes abandoned the sky to study his profile.
He nodded, the movement reluctantly executed. It was a minute or so before he actually replied. "It's June." He paused, deliberating continuing, and finally added, "Everything bad always happens in June. That's when I always encounter Voldemort. It's always June. Always," he repeated.
She propped herself up on her elbows. "I could look up more spells for you," she offered, ever the researcher, the teacher. "There may be a few that could be beneficial that I overlooked before—"
"No, it's not that," he interrupted her, but he sent her a quick smile so that she wouldn't be offended by his curt rejection of her help. "I don't want to study spells anymore. I don't want to feel like the fate of the world is riding on my shoulders. I don't want the fate of the world to be riding on my shoulders," he corrected, and he gazed back up at the sky. "For the moment, all I want is to sit here with you. Is that bad?"
A frown tugged at the corners of her mouth. "Bad? Why would that be bad?"
"Because I'm not preparing, that's why," he explained. "What if I get to the battle and one more spell could've saved my life but didn't because I spent the day shirking my destiny and never bothered learning it?"
Hermione gazed at him seriously. "Harry James Potter, there are five million what ifs that could be considered for this situation. But since neither of us is particularly skilled at Divination, and since it is a very woolly subject, I don't see the point in dwelling on the matter."
Harry raised an eyebrow at her in surprise. "Do my ears deceive me, or is Hermione Jane Granger telling me not to spend more time preparing, this coming from the girl who begins compiling final exam study guides the first day of classes?"
She lay back down with a sigh. "This isn't school, Harry, but I managed to learn something valuable along the way. You may master another spell today and it might help you when you confront Voldemort, but then again, it might not help you at all. I hate to say it, but…" she trailed off, and when she spoke again, her voice was very quiet and trembling. "But…you may die, despite all our preparations. And wouldn't you rather spend an hour or two enjoying life, enjoying this world we're trying so hard to save, before you could lose that chance forever?"
"Why do you think I'm here with you now, Hermione?" he asked at the same volume as she, and she made no answer. He shook his head, trying to marshal his thoughts. "Maybe I don't want it to be June because I know I'm running out of time to prepare for this prophesized battle. And maybe I don't want it to be June because I know I'm running out of time for other things, perhaps, selfishly, more important things."
She sat up and slipped her hand into his, squeezing gently, reassuringly, a simple gesture that lent both strength and comfort. "Wanting other things isn't selfish, Harry. It's so human to want to accomplish everything when the potential end is in sight." She paused and then inquired, "So what do you want?"
He tightened his grip on her hand in return. "For this afternoon to last forever. And if that's not possible, I want every afternoon from here until the end to be like this. And if that's not possible, either, then…then I want to share them with…you, wherever we are. I want…this," he added, making a vague encompassing gesture with his other hand.
"I'm afraid I don't have my Time Turner on me, Harry," she said softly, a faint, almost mocking laugh escaping on her exhale. "I can't give you the first or the second. But…" she fell silent, perhaps considering the magnitude of her next statement, "I can give you the third. I can be with you until the end. I will be with you until the end," she emphasized, her eyes locking on his. "I promise you that."
The word flitted from his mouth before he could question its existence at all. "Why?"
She smiled sadly, and she turned away from him, her hands slipping from his. "Because I want this afternoon to last forever, too. Because out here, there's only the two of us, and…and I'm the only person you can talk to or count on or trust or…or…"
"Or what?" he prompted, aware that she stubbornly still refused to face him, and all he could do was appreciate the way the sunlight gleamed on her curls.
A heavy sigh, and the word that at last followed sounded forced, as if it took everything in her to utter the single syllable. "Love."
"You know I love you," he quickly assured her, although he was leaving it at friendship for the moment.
"Yes, I know, but you love Ron and the Order and…and Gi…I don't know, everyone else," she said, flustered. "And it's stupid and selfish, but I want you just to love me. I know you can't, but…well…"
He reached for her, his hand gently turning her face toward his, but she kept her eyes downcast. "Hermione," he began, his voice the most serious it had ever been, "I love you more than anything. I would give up everything if I could just spend one more minute in this field under this sky with you and just you alone." Her gaze tentatively lifted, as if she couldn't quite believe her ears, and before she could wonder any further, he leaned in and kissed her softly on the lips. The light contact frayed all his nerve endings and sent shivers echoing throughout his entire body, and he couldn't help but think that no kiss with any other girl had ever made him feel so much so quickly. And so he thought he would simply die from the ocean's-wash of sensation that generated from Hermione pulling him closer and pressing the kiss deeper, her lips parting effortlessly to slide and lock with his. His thoughts ground to a halt and all he knew was that she smelled faintly of leather and parchment and tasted vaguely of their breakfast of toast and tea and somewhat of ink from chewing on her quills out of nervousness and, more than both of the former, of something sharp and sweet and completely alive. And then all he knew was that he breathed her in, body and soul, and did not want to give all of her back.
They finally separated, both breathing quickly and heavily, and Harry drew her into the tightest embrace he had ever given anyone. "Oh, God, Hermione…you promised you wouldn't leave me, that you'd stay with me until the end," he said into her curls. "Please…just promise it again…"
"I do," she whispered against his neck, her exhale tickling his skin.
"That sounds like a marriage vow," he observed, trying his hardest to memorize the feel of her body in his arms.
He nearly felt her smile. "Who said it wasn't?"
"But…" he began, somewhat confused, but she stopped his words with her finger against his lips.
"Till death do us part," Hermione intoned, her brown eyes melting into his emerald.
"Till death," Harry affirmed, and he captured her mouth in another fierce kiss. And for the first time in a very long time, his thoughts could not have been farther from Voldemort. No, they were wandering around the field of gold, hovering on the west wind, and focused entirely on the girl he cradled in his arms. They parted once more, this time because he had something to say. "No matter what happens in the future, I swear we'll come back here and live that lifetime of afternoons."
"I hope we have time in the days still left," she mused, and she looked pensive. "I understand that till death is traditional, but…that doesn't guarantee any long time with us." She gazed at him gravely once more. "Until the end, Harry. Like I said before, I'm yours until the end."
He frowned slightly. "But…what's the end? My end? Your end?"
She shook her head. "The end, Harry. The only one that really matters."
A smile replaced the frown, and he vowed against her lips, "Until the end, Hermione."
The setting sun inflamed the sky the same brilliant hue of gold as the field of grasses that swayed and danced below, and a young woman with brown curly hair stood in the midst of it all, gazing past the sky and the grass to something that lay beyond: somewhere on the horizon, where the gold of the grass melted and fused with the gold of the sky. A wind blew from the west, playing with the tall, supple stalks, and she caressed one of the tufted tops with a gesture of familiarity.
It had been years since Hermione had been here, since she had last lain eyes upon this field by Godric's Hollow. It had been years since she had last lain eyes upon him as well. Only in memories and dreams now. And here the memories swirled thickly, as if they were borne upon the wind that toyed with her hair like he had done so long ago. She drifted into a reverie, forgetting the sun and the field.
Voices dragged her from her thoughts. "Mum! Sirius hit me!"
"I did not!"
Hermione gazed at the two children who now stood before her, both eight years old and both bearing their father's famous black hair. She sighed and focused on her son, whose hazel eyes—a blend of her own brown and Harry's emerald green—looked up at her innocently. "Sirius James, don't hit your sister."
"I didn't hit her," he protested again, and he shoved some of his messy hair from his face. "Well, I did, but only with a piece of grass. It's not like it hurt her or anything."
His twin sister stuck her tongue out at him impudently. "You still hit me," she insisted with that tone of voice that Hermione was beginning to recognize as the same tone she had used in her childhood whenever she had been right about something.
"Elizabeth Jane, don't tease your brother," Hermione added, looking at them both seriously, and they both nodded obediently, although she could practically sense a hint of rebellion: there was too much of Harry in them sometimes.
"Butterfly!" Elizabeth exclaimed, and she was racing off through the grass, her sage-green eyes laughing and her long black curls streaming out behind her.
"I want a butterfly!" Sirius yelled as he ran after his twin sister, their childish differences forgotten in the hunt for elusive treasure.
Hermione watched them with a smile flitting about her lips, but her gaze soon strayed to the setting sun, which was dropping closer and closer to the western horizon. The sky was still streaked with golden light, although it was graying to the east, and the field began to be cast into shadow. Her smile broadened when she observed that as hard as the sky tried, it could not match that perfect color of the field on the first day she had seen it, on a day when she had needed something bright and unstained by grief or worry. And as she stood there, she realized that she could not grieve him here; he almost seemed present, as if his spirit had caught a ride on the wind and joined it as it tousled his family's hair.
"I came back, Harry," she whispered to the west wind. "It was a beautiful afternoon, although it couldn't last forever. You already knew that," she added, recalling his wish that they could stop time that day and savor the sun and the sky and the field and each other. And she smiled faintly, just the corners of her lips turned up. "But we can, though. And we will."
The sun had slipped halfway beneath the horizon when Hermione called her children—their children—to her, and they returned home, walking hand in hand through the waving golden grass, just the four of them: mother and daughter and son and the wind.