A short one-shot I've had on my computer since early October. Might write more to this, but I doubt it.
Disclaimer: I own nothing, including the Oasis song that gave this fic its title.
She took the stairs two at a time, threw the door flat against that poor old portrait of the Wobbling Witch, and stopped. Stopped and observed a face framed by scarlet curtains, because she'd had a feeling he'd be sitting there.
Her breath caught for one transcendent moment.
She took a step forward, nearly slipped on one of Dean's socks, and caught herself. Caught herself from disrupting this bizarre vision of peace, because she understood the insulated comfort of the disconnect.
Like a message from a higher authority she'd come to doubt his head snapped right then forward then left to her. She didn't expect him to smile, but the last year had taught her that her expectations were rarely met.
She coughed, her mouth was so dry. She kicked that sock out of the way and pushed past the first bed. "Hi. Did I startle you?"
"No, actually." His smile never wavered. "I didn't know you were here, to start. I just… Do you ever find yourself lost in thought and you don't want to escape?"
"Yes," she said, instantly. "Your eyes feel caught and you fear that if you'll move them the moment's gone." She always thinks that some revelation has escaped her. Hermione hoped she hadn't taken Harry's revelation.
"Yes. I was having that kind of moment. And then I just knew it should be over so it was." Harry held out his hands in front of him, as if displaying evidence to the one man jury at the pearly gates. "And then you were here."
She swept past the next bed. "I was worried about you. I thought you were out on the pitch."
"I came up to grab my broom," he explained. "It's under the bed. I sat down and then for a minute there I lost myself."
"I see. May I sit?"
He moved to make room for her even though she'd wished that he wouldn't. As a girl she'd been squeamish when coming into contact with others, but around Harry, she craved it. Their knees still pressed together as she hit the bed.
"What are you thinking about?" Hermione paused, rewrote the last five seconds: "What were you thinking about before I so rudely interrupted?"
After a laugh, his answer: "Nothing in particular."
"You must," she said, ever vigilant in her quest for logic, "have been thinking of something."
He shrugged. "I don't know. Do you miss Ron?"
"I don't suppose so." She twisted it over in her mind like a pancake, one or three times to get both sides. "A little. I haven't had much time to think about it. He's only been gone for a little under two days."
He fell backwards and with a faint plop rested his arms behind his head and sighed. She observed him, the most interesting puzzle with at least one lost jigsaw missing. "Is there a reason you asked?"
"Not really," he replied. "I don't miss Ginny, but we're not together like you two."
"Ron and I aren't technically together." And it was true, somehow. "We just are. That doesn't sound logical, does it?"
"You're together," said Harry with confidence. "And congratulations on that, by the way. But it just caught me off guard."
"Ron and I?"
"No, of course not." When he said it like that it was so obvious. "It's just that I don't miss Ron, and I really don't miss Ginny. I thought I would. I thought of her before I went off to let Voldemort kill me."
Harry's not dead. Harry's not dead. No matter how many times she repeated it, it still frightened her. That image, Harry lifeless. "That's natural. You love her, after all."
"I don't miss her," he stated for the second time. "At all. I don't know why I thought of her. This past year I've been looking forward to being with her again, but now that it's upon me, I really don't want it."
"That's natural," she stated for the second time. "You're just nervous."
"I don't think so. I just think I liked the idea of her more than the person." When he said it like that it was so obvious, and apparently it always would be. "I've been thinking for a while, you see."
"How come you only stop to think after we're out of Hogwarts?" she teased him.
"We're still in here," he retorted. "Just in a different way."
She whacked him, and he grabbed her and pulled her down next to him, tickling her sides. Several yelps of laughter escaped her, and she burrowed her head into his neck in a desperate attempt to stop the tickling.
"Ah, your bloody hair is tickling my face!" he exclaimed, and she responded by pushing her head closer to his chin. He spat up hair and chuckled. "Ew, I can taste your shampoo."
"Shut it, you."
His fingers stopped their mad pursuit of her ticklish spots and they came to rest in an easy embrace on his bed, the most innocent gesture of friendship Hermione had ever known.
"I think I'd miss you more than Ron or Ginny," he said.
"That's nonsense," she replied.
"It isn't," and it wasn't.
She allowed herself to waft in the brilliant smell of his newly cleaned shirt and she sighed. She moved her ear to rest over his heart, her life reaffirmed on some basic level with each uneasy beat.
"Do you ever wish you could sleep for a year and then wake up just to see how different things would be without you?"
His hand was warm in her hair, fingers locked in curls never tamed. "No. It's interesting to think about, though. What do you think about it?"
"I don't know," he said. His chest heaved once. "It would be kind of cool, right? Not to see if everyone missed me. Just to know that I could leave and life would go on without you."
"It wouldn't," she murmured to herself, but apparently he heard.
"Really, what's going to happen to England when I'm on my walkabout around the world?" he asked, laughing. "It's not going to be there when I get back?"
"You're not leaving."
"No, I'm not." She let herself relax against him once more, and he took a deep breath. "Not so soon. Not alone."
"How – how long?"
"Whenever we've finished the beginning of the rebuilding process. When it feels like I can leave without people losing hope." Hermione marveled at his ability to think of society and then himself. She silently believed she had something to do with that. "I really have no clue. And I'm not going away for a year or anything. Maybe for a couple weeks. I just want to relax, away from all this. This entire country was a battlefield. I just want to be someplace without blood everywhere."
"You should go to Australia with me," she yawned. "We could make a trip of it. I could probably use a helping hand, as well."
"That would be really nice. We could get Ron, too." She didn't know why the thought of Ron accompanying them made her so uncomfortable, but since the thought of something she didn't understand thoroughly disturbed her on a more apparent level she pushed it to the back of her mind. "Dunno if he'll go. He'll probably want to stay with his family."
She focused more on his heartbeat and less on her uncertain happiness.
"So how far away is Australia, anyway?" he asked.
"Four thousand miles? I don't know."
"What? I thought you'd have it all plotted out by now!"
She pinched him and he squeaked. "Ooh, you sound like a mouse. The Boy Who Lived making mouse noises. What's next?"
"The smartest witch in Britain not knowing how far away Australia is."
"I'll keep my mouth shut if you do the same."
The bed was made beneath them. Did the house elves really bother any more?
"So what're you planning on doing after Australia?"
"I don't know," she said. "I figure there's plenty to be done. I want to help rebuild Hogwarts. I want to get involved with the new Ministry. I want to take my N.E.W.T.s. I don't know."
"I wish I knew," Harry sighed.
"You don't want to be an Auror?"
"I don't know," he stated. "I figure by now I've had about enough of dark wizards. I figure if my help is needed, I'll help out, for a while at least. After that I don't know. I never assumed that I'd be around here to have to figure out what I'm going to do."
Harry's not dead. Harry's not dead. Maybe she would play that on a loop in her sleep, just to reinforce the notion. "You've got all the time in the world to figure it out."
"That's the problem. I feel like I've got no time." Her hands rose to cup his cheek. She was glad that he didn't turn away. "I'm out of time, I feel like. I… do you think I defined myself by Voldemort?"
"I…" Hermione had never seriously considered it before; she'd been too concerned with keeping Harry alive to wonder about the aftershock. "I don't know."
"I think in a strange way he brought out the best in me," said Harry, not miserably but not happily. "He made me braver. He made me focus and hold myself to an, ah, higher moral standard, you see? I just don't know who I'm going to be without him."
She couldn't help the sing-song poem fluttering through her head:
Pity poor Grengar,
Down goes the whirlpool:
Eek! No, no!
It was Grendel's paradox: the idea that Harry and Voldemort had given each other meaning. However, it was not a perfect allegory, for while Voldemort's presence had brought out the best in Harry, Harry's instinct for survival had only infuriated and blinded Voldemort to his own weaknesses.
"You're not dependent on him," she said. "You became a better person because it was required of you. Now that it's not required you just need to decide if you want to continue to hold yourself to that higher standard."
"And is that my meaning?" Harry asked, louder and louder. "What is the meaning of everything? I've been so embroiled in this war that I think I've forgotten everything."
"There's no one set meaning," replied Hermione. "At least I don't think so. I think each person has to find their own meaning. I think meaning is what keeps us going. I hope so, at least."
"Well, what's my meaning?"
"I think you have to define it."
"Maybe I don't know."
"You could know if you really wanted to."
"Maybe I don't really want to know."
"Then you're just being stubborn," she said.
He grunted, rubbed his palm against her arm. Something about his breath against her nose made her shiver. He gripped her instinctively.
"What do you think my meaning is?" he asked.
"I don't know," she replied. "It's up to you. I can't solve your mystery. I can only tell you that there are plenty things from which you could draw meaning."
"Like the world around you," that needs a hero now more than ever. "Like all the people that look up to you to help them rebuild their lives. Like your friends, me and Ron and the Weasleys..."
Her crooked form of logotherapy must have worked, because his hand relaxed against her back, eased gentle circles. "Ron. You. I could draw meaning from you."
"I don't know. I hope so."
"I could," Harry stated. "If you asked me to live for you I would."
"Would you be happy, though?"
"I'd be happy that there'd be a reason for me to be alive."
"Then you can draw all the meaning from me that you want," Hermione said, smiling into his shirt and feeling the jigsaw falling into place. "I want you to live for me until you can find some other meaning."
"I wouldn't mind always living for you," his voice whispered. She expected him to say, Ron and Ginny, too, and while she knew it was true, he didn't, and it gave her a strange sort of pride. "I could just add all that other meaning on top of it. A meaning sandwich."
"Ron would probably eat it," she mused.
And Harry laughed.