-1Author's Note: This story takes place after Deathly Hallows. If you haven't finished that story yet, why are you reading fan fiction! Go finish Harry Potter! Seriously, if you haven't read DH yet, just be warned this does contain mild spoilers and I do no wish to spoil the end of an epic for anyone, even in a small way. This is just a sweet little fic that blossomed from the corners of my dusty mind one evening. I hope you enjoy. It's my first fan fiction. Please let me know what you think.
Disclaimer: Not that it's necessary to say so, but all characters belong to the genius of J.K. Rowling. This little inkling of a story was born from my own restless and over-active imagination which wished to run happily through the meadows of such a great mind if only for a moment. To Ms. Rowling: I thank you.
She wasn't wearing any shoes. No one stole them anymore. She told me once her toes enjoyed the feel of the earth. I think she enjoys the freedom. I don't think she knows I'm watching; it's just as well. I don't want her to know. Not yet, anyhow. She's been here all summer. Actually, she's been here almost two years. After her house was destroyed, her father went crazy. She never saw him after Harry rescued her from that cell. I shudder to think of what would have happened had he not gone after her. I didn't know. No one knew. Had I known…well, who's to say what I would have done.
Mrs. Weasley wouldn't hear of letting her stay in those ruins of her former life. Mrs. Weasley insisted she come and live with them until she found her way in the world. That suited her just fine. She and Ginny are great friends. We all are. Once you've been through as much as we have you can't help but form a bond.
She's smiling now and humming. She always hums, strange little tunes of her own invention. She doesn't always smile. I've seen her, when she thinks no one's around, sitting beneath the large oak at the corner of the Weasley's garden, her knees drawn up, her huge, blue eyes sparkling with unshed tears. Then I'll blink and nothing's wrong. She's swaying with her eyes closed, listening to some unheard melody on the wind, or following a garden gnome, giggling like the little girl she once was. It's hard to believe she's 18. It's hard to believe any of us are grown. It seems like only yesterday we all arrived at Hogwarts, scared stiff at that massive, dark structure. How could we have possibly known what the future held? We couldn't. Thank God, we couldn't.
I'm trying not to stare. I can't help it. I told Harry and Ron I was going to be gathering Parcel Fungus from around the pond at the corner of the woods. A remarkable plant too; Parcel Fungus is so durable it has actually been used in a pinch as luggage, hence its name. There I go again, rambling on and on about plants. Ron thinks I'm "bloody nuts". Harry just laughs and shakes his head. Hermione, well, I think she enjoys the fact that someone else loves learning as much as she. And yes, I am gathering Parcel Fungus so it wasn't exactly a lie. But I also happen to know that a certain someone likes to come here and collect rocks.
Her long silver hair is blowing in the wind, wrapping itself around her like loving arms. She keep brushing it away with elegant fingers, all the while trying to keep her long skirt from getting wet as she courts the edge of the pond. She hasn't looked at me yet, but I know she knows I'm here. I'm always here. I do hope she knows that.
Ow! I jump, trying not to cry out. I cut my finger on a sharp rock. Clumsy! She sees me now, sucking on my finger, trying to act cool even though we both know I'm not. Harry and Ron are the cool ones. I'm just … well, I'm just me.
Yep, she's watching me now with that quizzical, dreamy look. I never quite know what she's thinking. I don't know if I'd really understand it if I did. She does ramble on and on about things no one really understands. Half of it I don't even know if it's true. But I love to hear her talk. Gosh, I love to hear her laugh. The way she stares unblinking at me when she's explaining this and that about some creature that, for all I know, only existed in her father's cracked imagination. But she believes. I don't know if she actually believes in the creatures, but she believes in something bigger than herself, bigger than all of us. She's so open, so alive, so…so free. I envy her. She's endured as much tragedy as the rest of us, more than most, and yet she remains so childlike. The eternal innocent: if she ever knew I called her that she'd throw her head back and laugh her bell-like laugh. Maybe I'll tell her, just to hear it one more time.
Is she still watching me? No; good. She makes me nervous. Why? I don't know. Every time she walks by I get the sensation if I just knew how I could walk on the wind. My stomach clenches in a thousand knots and my brain turns to mush until I can't tell Gillyweed from a Mandrake Root. I haven't told anyone about these odd occurrences, not even Harry or Ron. How long has she made me feel like this? Truthfully? Since the first moment she ever said my name. It was like someone opened a door I didn't know was there, much less locked. And then she started turning up everywhere and that mysterious door flew wide open and suddenly the drapes were torn down and windows, long boxed up, were cleaned and sunlight was shining through. I can see clearly when she's around. Maybe I am bloody nuts…
She's humming again. Just when I think I recognize the tune, I lose it. She's like a waking dream! I swear sometimes she can't be real! Even her looks are dream-like. She's never said anything about her mother except she died when she was very young. Perhaps her mother was an elf. Or a fairy. I try not to laugh out loud. She's rubbing off on me; I'm imagining her to be immortal. I look at her once more-perhaps she is?
I stand up slowly and stretch my back. Parcel Fungus grows only on rocks at the base of Weeping Willows that grow along side a body of stationary water. These magical plants: so many rules and factors to consider! It's so hard not to just stare. I catch her moving out of the corner of my eyes. Not moving. Dancing. Yes, she's dancing. Twirling round and round and round at the edge of the pond, her eyes closed, that confounded tune floating to me on a breeze as sweet as a soft summer rain. I collect the basket Mrs. Weasley let me borrow and contemplate the best way to proceed past her. Should I just walk right by, say hello and keep going? Should I walk around the far side and pretend I don't see her at all? Or should I stroll lazily by and hope that she takes my muddy hands in her delicate ones and I begin to dance with her, caught up in the ecstasy that only she can see and feel and taste and smell and-
She's walking this way. Good grief, what do I do? Stay calm. There's the summersaults again, the knots and the butterflies. Come on brain, don't go to mush. Don't say anything stupid. Don't chase her away. I'm half afraid she'd vanish in a puff of mist if I so much as sigh wrong. She's so ethereal. But I don't say anything stupid, I don't even trip over the large rocks that litter the ground. I smile; she smiles, her enormous blue eyes light up at the sight of me, or so I imagine.
"Hello, Neville. Isn't this a glorious afternoon?"
And then she's gone, drifting past me with the scent of violets and grass, as soft as the wings of the dragonflies that follow her. She's on the other side of the pond now, where I was only moments before and I'm left with my basket of Parcel Fungus, watching her dip her toes in the pond, creating ripples of joy along it's surface.
Yes, I'm always watching. And for now, that's enough.