Story: Dancing the Pain Away

Author: FantasticT

Summary: Ron has been gone for months, they're no closer to finding any more horcruxes, and everything around them seems to be falling, but Harry won't let Hermione lose hope. "One word frees us of all the weight and pain of life: That word is love." ~ Sophocles

A/N: This is just a short little fic for the scene in Deathly Hallows Part 1 where Harry and Hermione are dancing in the tent. It was a brilliant scene—makes me cry a little every time—and I wanted to put it into words. I hope I do it justice! Don't forget to review!

Disclaimer: I do not own Harry Potter or any affiliated characters, situations, places, etc. All credits go to J.K. Rowling, who is a complete genius for coming up with any of this in the first place.

It had been two months to that day.Two months now since he had stormed out of the tent, past the Protection Charms that she'd carefully set up a million times before, and into the dark woods. Two months since he had finally said what was really on his mind, and decided that sticking around wasn't worth the trouble. Two months since he had last set foot in their tent, since she had last spoken to him, since she had last seen him. Two months since she had known if he was safe.

Hermione remembered every detail of the day exactly. The sky had been graying, promising rain. They were camping out deep in the woods—where exactly, she wasn't sure. They had been in hiding, moving from place to place, for weeks. They had been in low spirits as usual, until their conversation with Phineas Nigellus, former Slytherin headmaster of Hogwarts, had proven to be useful—he'd told them enough to allow Harry and Hermione to understand why Dumbledore had left Harry the sword of Gryffindor in his will—the sword was able to destroy horcruxes because it was impregnated with Basilisk venom. Dumbledore had switched the sword in his office for an imposter, and hidden the real sword; if they could only figure out where, they would be able to do away with the horcrux they already had as well as the ones they would find in the future.

That was when he had shown up, leaning against one of the tents supports, giving Harry and Hermione the evil eye. His harsh words flew through her mind, each of them hurting her just as much as they had before—"Oh, remembered me, have you?"—"Don't expect me to skip up and down the tent because there's some other damn thing we've got to find."—"My arm mangled and nothing to eat and freezing my backside off every night."—"We thought you knew what you were doing!"—"Harry I've-Faced-Worse Potter"—"Yeah, I get it, you don't care!"

It had been particularly embarrassing and awkward for Hermione when Ron had called her out, put her on the spot, but the way he put it made the situation sound ten times worse. Harry knew that she and Ron were getting a bit disappointed with the way their mission was going—he had seen them whispering about it on more than one occasion. But Ron had relayed it to Harry as if Hermione had called him insane, or an idiot, or completely mental, when really all she had said was that she hoped that they would make progress soon, because they hadn't been able to discover anything yet.

She wanted to believe so badly that he had only acted that way because it had been his turn to wear the horcrux at the moment; it had a bad effect on the wearer. Even she had to admit that she felt darker when she wore it, more depressed, like the weight that was already on her back had increased by thirty pounds. But she knew as soon as she had had to put up a shield between Harry and Ron that he was acting of his own accord, that if he wanted to he could've stopped himself from yelling, from coming that close to hurting his best friend of nearly seven years. And even after he had ripped the locket from his neck and thrown it to the ground, he had stomped towards the tent flaps, holding one open, before turning back.

And then he had forced Hermione to make one of the hardest decisions that she would ever have to face. Stay or go?

Horcruxes or home?

Ron or Harry?

Sometimes she regretted her decision to stay. She felt bad thinking about it, and then she reminded herself that she had made the right choice, but the thought was always lingering in the back of her mind. Sure, she missed Ron an awful lot and wasn't sure if he was safe or not, and she would love to return to the comforting watch of Mrs. Weasley, who made the most delicious food and could provide her with a warm bed to sleep in, but Harry needed her. She couldn't imagine leaving him, her best friend, to face all of this on his own. They were having a hard enough time finding horcruxes as two people—she couldn't leave him to do it alone. Were she Harry Potter, the Boy Who Lived, who had watched the people he cared about most die, and who soon would have to kill the darkest wizard of all time, then she would want at least one friend by her side to help her out.

And so now, two months later, they had still not made any progress. The rain was pattering outside, just like that day, and the old radio they had brought along with them was playing a slow, sad song quietly in the corner, mixing with the sounds of the raindrops falling beyond the tent. The words of the song were talking about being free from pain and keeping hope even during sadness, but Hermione found it hard to take those words to heart. She had nearly lose all hope, with the events of the past year or so bringing her down—she mentally listed all the things that had gone wrong in her head: Lord Voldemort was getting stronger, her parents had no memory of her, she was now a wanted criminal, more and more innocent people were dying, she couldn't return to Hogwarts, they were making no progress, and now the one person she really loved had left…

Hermione felt a hot tear roll down her cheek, and she turned to face the walls so that Harry, who was sitting on a table across the tent, could not see. The tears came faster and faster now, and she kept wiping them away, until she was sure that she could have used her sleeve to clean dirty plates. The song that kept playing on the radio wasn't helping her bad mood out, nor was the horcrux that was hanging around her neck; she wished so much that she could be free from all of the pain, suffering, and death that surrounded her.

She would never admit it, but she wanted to blame all of her problems on Harry. If she hadn't become such good friends with him during their first year, she would have never had to go through all of this. Right now, she could be at Hogwarts (given, things were probably bad there, too) eating a delicious meal in the Great Hall, learning the final steps to being a great witch, and going to sleep every night in her warm bed in the girl's dormitory in Gryffindor Tower. Sometimes she regretted ever talking to he and Ron that first day on the Hogwarts express; if she hadn't she wouldn't be sitting here freezing, exhausted, and famished. But, then, she snapped back out if it, and remembered that Harry had been a good friend to her all these years. They were in this together, and she would stick by him until the very end.

Hermione had been too caught up in her own thoughts to notice that Harry had crossed the room over to where she was sitting. She jolted when she realized that he was standing there—she had been constantly on the edge of her seat ever since the incident at the diner months ago—and looked up into his face. He looked more tired than she had ever seen him; he was only seventeen, but she could've sworn that she saw dashes of gray in his overgrown hair, and his eyes were bloodshot and were outlined with dark circles. Their first year at Hogwarts, when Harry had looked so trouble-free and innocent seemed like hundreds of years ago; now she couldn't remember the last time she had even heard him laugh or see a smile cross his face.

He reached down to her, her eyes narrowing slightly; she took his hand and feebly stood up. He slowly reached behind her hair, and, with a click, removed the horcrux from around her neck, shoving it into his own pocket. She turned around to look at him and as she did, he took both of her hands in his and led her to the center of the tent. Having no idea what was going on, Hermione followed him without question. And before she knew it, Harry had begun to twist so that they swung side to side with the music—he planned on making her dance, like nothing in the world was wrong, when really everything was falling apart.

At first Hermione refused to move her feet; a small grin had started to spread across Harry's face, but her face couldn't seem to remember which muscles to use to create a smile. But as the song's chorus began to flood through the tent, promising hope, telling them to stay strong, she couldn't help but allow a smile to spring onto her face. He spun him under her arm once, and she came around, laughing along with him. He twirled twice under her arm, as if he was some kind of ballerina, and she exploded into hysterics like she hadn't in what seemed like forever. He then pulled her close, their arms jutting away from them like they were prepared to tango straight out from under all of the chaos and grief that had weighed them down, and they rocked back and forward, cheek to cheek. They spun around in a circle and did the twist, dancing like there was no tomorrow, as if it were true that if they would just dance for a bit longer, all the hurt that they were feeling would suddenly disappear like it was never there in the first place.

They kept the dance going, they were doing the twist; he dipped her once the proper way, and then she mixed things up and dipped him as well. He spun into her arms, smiling up at her awkwardly and making her shake her head, and she spun him back out again. They took each other's hands, twirling around until they were so dizzy that the walls seemed to be shifting constantly, and then came close again, resting their heads on each other's shoulders. They continued to slowly rock back and forth, and the radio's signals fizzled away as the rain outside poured down even harder, leaving them slowly stepping back and forward to static. Harry pulled away, still holding her hands, and looked into her eyes.

Hermione suddenly knew, and understood, that he was feeling just as much pain as she was, if not more. With the fate of the world resting on his shoulders, the darkest wizard of all time out to kill him, his wand broken, and his best friend completely turned against him, being Harry Potter, the Boy Who Lived, seemed much less exciting than it had the first time he and Hermione had met that day on the Hogwarts Express; his famous lightning scar had become a curse rather than a blessing. He had never had a proper home like she had; never gotten to know his parents; never had any friends outside of those that he'd met at Hogwarts, all because of something that had happened when he was just a child, and because of a prophecy that technically never had to come true. Hermione had been through a lot during her friendship with Harry—together and with Ron, they had ventured through a maze to get to the Sorcerer's Stone, conquered the basilisk, gone back in time to save lives, and made it through a battle with a mob of Death Eaters—but she knew that he had gone through much more pain, hardship, and stress than she ever had. She could tell not only from the stories she had heard from and about him, but also from the look in his eyes, the tired lines on his face, and his thin body, starving but trying to stay strong.

Feeling sorry again, although for Harry this time rather than herself, she took a step backwards away from Harry, thanking him without speaking for allowing her to smile one more time and remember what it felt like to have a bit of fun. And then, without saying another word, Hermione returned to her place on the steps to her bed, turning again towards the radio and rapidly turning the knobs, hoping that somehow the song would keep playing so that she and Harry could continue to dance away the pain.