Don't Be Still

He was dead, for a moment. He was.

In the middle of the night, when neither of us can sleep, Hermione crawls into my bed and rests her head against my collarbone and whispers how we almost lost everything. It's funny, she means me. And Harry. Someone drew a circle around the three of us and called it everything. I don't know which one of us it was, or if we'd all done it together.

We talk about Harry, about how he was a ghost for those few crushing moments, and it seems surreal and out of reach to even recall what that had been like, as it was with Fred those first few days, before I let myself believe it. That I'd never see him alive again.

But now, she's fallen asleep, her legs tangled up with mine, and I slip out of bed and slide my bare feet soundlessly across the floor instead of taking a real step, not wanting to risk a noisy landing on top of one of those creaky floorboards my room seems to grow more and more fond of collecting with each passing day. It's like the aging of an old friend, and sometimes, I laugh when I look at the cracks in the walls and the chips of ancient paint in the dusty corners of the Burrow's sitting room. Reminds me of an old, tired wizard, his face wrinkled with so many years past.

I reach the door to Harry's room, wondering when we'd all stopped calling it Percy's, and I push it open with ease. He leaves it cracked at night, curious because he doesn't know I come here, does he? But then I wonder if he does, every time, and he just doesn't want me to know it.

Has he left the door unlocked just for me? See, I have to open it, I have to, because what if I don't and he's not breathing?

He was once a body without a soul. His skin no longer held captive the person I'd grown to love closer than any brother. His features bore no signs of his existence in my world, the only one I knew. And sometimes, when I look at him now, I see him dead for a moment before I see him alive. I see a vision, hazy and out of focus, of a corpse, pale and cold, blood quite still in veins hidden beneath scars I know by heart.

I move quietly closer so as not to wake him. Because I know. I know deep down that he's alive and his heart's still beating. Somehow. I know it... but I don't. And that's what draws me closer, to hover above him.

He's not moving, and I lean down further over his body. His hair has fallen, choppy and unpredictable, over his forehead. His fingers are so lightly curled against his bed sheet.

I crouch beside his bed, bringing my face level with the back of his head.

"Harry," I whisper, and he stirs at last, turning towards the sound of my voice in his sleep.

I swallow my own relief, biting my tongue as I crumple slightly to the floor, resting my chin on the side of his mattress, inches from his face as he settles on his opposite side now, completely facing me. His t-shirt is so twisted across his chest, sheets a mess of knots around his ankles, though he seems quite peaceful in sleep. He always does.

I wonder what he's dreaming of. But then, holding my breath, I reach out a tentative hand, fingertips against his chest before the rest of my hand follows... until my palm lies flat over his heart. His body is warm, and a distant pounding reassures me through thin cotton. The chill that grows in the pit of my stomach every night has dissipated, and I close my eyes for a moment to breathe.

When at last I draw my hand away and stand above him, I could swear he sighs up at me. I grin because I wonder if he's rolling his eyes in his dreams. He'd call me a nutter if he knew how I panic at three in the morning, unable to rest until I see his living body with his soul still firmly intact.

I run a hand through my hair, eyelids drooping now that all of my irrational fears have been erased. If only he'd sleep in my room like he used to. Would make it much easier for me.

I shuffle out of his room and pull the door halfway shut, all thoughts now turned back to Hermione. I'm sure she's awake now that I'm gone. She seems to sense me in her sleep now. And I confirm my suspicions when I open my bedroom door to find her sitting up in bed, eyes wide open.

"Is he alright?" she whispers, and I close my door with a click before sinking onto the foot of the bed and crawling towards her, lowering her back to the pillow with a firm left arm around her waist, gathering her against me as I rest on my stomach, hair falling into my eyes as she turns her head to press her cold nose to mine.

"Yes," I breathe, skin tingling where she's touching me. And before long, my whole left side is a solid plane of goosebumps.

She never asks why I look in on Harry every night. She never scolds me for being silly. And every time I come back, she's waiting for me. But a distant fear rises easily from my stomach to my chest as she nuzzles closer against me. What if this doesn't last? What if one day she tires of me and leaves and I have nothing to come back to, no one to whisper 'yes' to in the dark?

"I can't be without you," I confess, eyes searching hers, close enough to merge and blur into one.

"I can't either," she whispers, blinking to free a few stray tears.

We've never really said it. I've told her how much I love her. She's told me too. But this is different. So very different.

I drag her on top of me as I flip onto my back, holding her against me everywhere possible. Her lungs inflate against mine, and I close my eyes.

My toes curl over the top of my low footboard, and I wonder if I should ask Hermione, in the morning, to lengthen the bed for me. I press a grin to the top of her messy head and chuckle, feeling impossibly weightless.

She lifts her head to look up into my eyes, a sleepy smile emerging just for me. And I know.

Everything is suddenly so much more than I ever realized. And every day I watch them move, it multiplies.

A/N: I just wanted to point you towards an amazing song, "Be Still" by Violens... http : / / www . youtube . com /watch?v=Z3VpV6TclRM

Also, thanks for reading!