It is freezing. She is freezing.

She wishes, not for the first time, that Ron had never left. She has not forgiven him—she will not forgive him—but if he were there, she wouldn't be sitting alone, tired and cold. She might be talking quietly with Harry, or at least enjoying a comfortable silence with Ron. Instead, she sits and waits. Harry is inside, sleeping off his last shift.

He looks more haggard than ever these days. She wonders if there is a spell to help him shave, but she guesses that, even if there were, he wouldn't use it. His hair is a mess; he should never have let her attempt to cut it. His eyes, though, are the thing that has most changed. They are empty, hollow—the light which once danced inside them has left. It makes Hermione sad when she hands him the locket and he doesn't smile at her anymore.

"I think it's my turn to take watch," says Harry, causing Hermione to jump. He emerges from the tent warmly clothed and with sleepy eyes.

She checks her watch. "You've still got a little while, if you want to sleep for a few more minutes."

He shakes his head and sits beside her. "I can't sleep, anyway."

She wants to respond to this, but she doesn't know what to say. Instead, he gently removes the locket from her neck and sets it in the snow between them. She feels better instantly, less weary. He meets her eyes and tries weakly to smile. It doesn't reach his eyes.

"Tell me something, Hermione," he says, staring down at the necklace.

She gives him a peculiar look. "Yes, Harry?"

He reaches out to the necklace, twirling the chain in his gloved hands."If I fail."

"You won't fail, Harry," she says. "I know you're tired, but Dumbledore would never have entrusted you with this if he didn't believe you could overcome it."

"Right," he says, and she can hear the bitterness seep into his voice. "But if I were to fail. If I kept trying and couldn't find the Horcruxes, or I can never find a way to destroy them, or if Voldemort kills me in the end."

Instinctively she grabs his hand, curling her fingers tightly around his wrist. "Please don't talk that way."

"Would everyone hate me?" he presses on. "Would I just be a failure, the Boy-Who-Lived-but-Couldn't-Truly-Defeat-Him? Another stupid legend that everyone talks about until the next legend comes along?"

"No," she says slowly, shaking her head. "No, Harry, you're so much more than that."

Desperately he meets her eyes, despair threatening to overcome him, and she continues on, tears spilling over onto her face.

"Harry, you're an amazing person. You're brave and courageous and smart and kind and, oh, Harry." She cups her hand to his cheek. "Harry, you're the best friend anyone could ask for." He stares quietly at her hand, and she looks away. "Please don't talk about dying, because I don't think I could handle it."

He takes her hand in his and comments, "Hermione, your hands are freezing. Where are your gloves?"

"Oh, I don't know," she says, flustered at the change in subject. Wiping away her tears, she adds, "I must have left them at the last camp site or something."

He frowns. "Why haven't you said anything?"

She looks away and mutters, "I think you've had quite enough on your mind already."

He bites his lip, then removes his gloves, handing them to her. "Here, take them."

"Absolutely not," she says, giving them back. "Your hands are more valuable than mine."

"Your hands are valuable, but they won't be if they fall off."

"I highly doubt they're going to fall off."

"I would be careful nonetheless."

"Oh, honestly," she says. She takes one glove from him and shoves it on her hand, then gives him the other back. "There."

Harry blinks, then smiles, the first real smile he's smiled in ages. It warms her heart, but she doesn't say anything. Somehow he knows, though; as they sit silently, he holds her ungloved hand with his ungloved hand, and her head is resting on his shoulder when the snow begins to fall.

stay with me tonight

and i'll make you believe one last time