He wondered, sometimes, if she had even the slightest idea of the effect she had on a room.
The kitchen was filled to the brim; all of them discontented, all of them tense and slighted and ignored and angry and so god-damn useless.
Well, maybe that was just him. But they were all discontented, anyway. And no one was doing anything, other than standing around looking silent and miserable. It was bad enough that he was always alone in this wretched, sodding, wasting old house. It was even worse that whenever he had company, they turned out to be just as taciturn as he was.
And then she just came tripping lightly down the stairs, as though she hadn't a care in the world, and breezed into the room like a burst of fresh air. And everything was suddenly a little less tense, a little less dark. Even the kitchen looked a little bit tidier, like the room itself was trying to impress her.
…Lily'd had that same effect on things, he mused. She'd always waltzed right in wherever she damn-well pleased, and everything sort of…perked up, and it made it seem like the world just wilted, a little bit, when she wasn't there. But with Lily it had just been her aura, her essence…she was so luminescent that she'd made everything around her shine, too, just by being there. With Hermione…
…with Hermione it was the way she was with people, he decided, watching her. She always moved though the room in a rapidly drifting, flowing path and said something, did something, that let whoever was there know that she recognized and appreciated their presence. He didn't even know if she realized she did it. But it was the recognition, perhaps, that brightened things. Silver shines when you polish it, after all.
He watched as she strode purposefully up to Mad-Eye and interrupted his loud – and entirely ignored – ramblings of the dangers of less-than-constant vigilance. Her eyes were serious as she asked for Moody's professional advice on something he couldn't hear, no doubt a topic far too grave and dangerous for someone her age to be considering. The crazy old Auror swelled with knowledge and the joy of being needed, while those around him, no longer subjected to his rant, sat up, straightening with relief. Her question answered, she thanked him and moved on, leaving the gnarled old face smiling as best it could. The twins sat nearby, bent, scowling, arguing quietly, over a piece of paper. She approached them, hands on her hips, undoubtedly reproaching them for some prank they had pulled, and he saw them pull identical, wicked grins, laughingly protesting as she firmly, but smilingly, shook her finger in their faces and scolded them, and when she left, they resettled into their work without their prior aggression.
He looked on as she brushed by Ginny, muttering something with a sheepish grin on her face that had the younger girl giggling madly, and placed a distracted kiss on the cheek of a pestered and irate Molly Weasley as she stood cooking by the stove, causing the angry lines of the woman's face to soften. Next she stopped by the counter where Tonks and Remus sat, placing her hand comfortingly on the older man's as she inquired after his health (speaking of which, Remus was looking a bit peaky. He'd have to take his potion later that afternoon.), making him smile gently in appreciation and look just a little less exhausted than he had before. His baby cousin – not really a baby anymore, he reminded himself – caught the younger woman's discrete wink – Remus didn't, he noticed amusedly – and grinned widely, her hair growing and twisting into long, wayward brown curls.
She paused, hovering in the space over Bill and Ron's shoulders as they leaned, focused, over a chess board. Her hand was on the back of Ron's chair, and he could see the boy angle his face slightly toward her without looking away from the board, as though already very attuned to her. Bill glanced up at her, his previously worried – and not just about the game – face suddenly lighthearted as she reached over him to checkmate Ron's king, making Bill burst out laughing as Ron cursed violently, which prompted several shrill reprehensions from his mother and brought life back into the kitchen's previously stagnant atmosphere.
Harry sat alone at the end of the table, watching the action take place with a wry little grin. She paused only very briefly to muss his hair softly, and he tilted his head back to grin up at her. He supposed that something in his godson's pale, tense demeanor worried her, because she bent down to gently press a kiss to his forehead, and Harry's face softened, calmed. He reached up to lightly brush the hand resting on his head, his touch trailing off as she moved away to come stand beside where he himself was anchored, sullen, brooding, and slightly contemplative, next to the coffee machine.
"All right there, Sirius?" she said, her tone warmly teasing, as she busied herself with pouring a cup of coffee. He smiled despite himself, shrugging silently, still oddly warmed by how his name, his, could sound so cheerful and whole when she said it. He wasn't yet used to people not speaking to him in disgust or fear. She finished with the coffeepot and turned around, leaning against the cabinets like him, cradling her mug in her hands.
"I know you don't like any part of this house, Sirius," she sighed happily. "But I love this kitchen." Her sudden and unexpected comment shocked him.
"Why?" He'd forgotten: just because she was a people-person didn't mean that she wasn't mental.
"Everyone's always in such a good mood in here, you know? There's something inviting and very comforting about it; it's always so cheerful. Just one of those rooms, I guess…"
She sipped at her coffee, her eyes smiling as she looked out over the recently-transformed kitchen and its occupants, all of whom were now grinning, chatting, or relaxing in comfortable silence.
"Yeah," he said, glancing down at her to where she stood close by him. "Yeah, I guess."
…and she didn't have even a clue as to the effect she had on a room.