This is the first of the Dances with Dunces story set, a bunch of stories set around the same time frame in fifth year, but seen from different points of view. Each can stand alone, but really, if you read them all, I think you'll find the stories enhance each other.
THE TOPMOST TURRET
Harry squinted into the darkness as he rubbed his glasses lenses with the edge of a long shirt sleeve. Everything was a blur, but he could recognize the unmistakable shape of Hermione's hair against the black night.
He had been about to ask her help in determining the final and most crucial step in dittany extraction - he couldn't make out his own handwriting - but as he passed Parvati on the landing between the boys' and girls' dormitories, she told him that she'd heard Hermione muttering something about going outside. It being so late already, he had deduced she must have gone to one of Gryffindor Tower's turrets.
"Hermione?" he called, as he stepped out into the cool night air. The figure moved at the sound of his voice, then disappeared around the arc of the curved wall. Harry slipped his glasses back on. "Hermione?" he called again, more softly and with some hesitation. The person's silhouette hadn't quite matched Hermione's, which was lean and not as shapeless as the one that had escaped him.
There was a sudden sound of movement just beyond, and he turned to it, seeing a dark woolen arm flap weirdly then disappear again out of view. "Over here, Harry," Hermione's familiar voice came. He stepped around the wall and saw her there, looking as she did when she left the common room for bed. She was leaning over the stone parapet, gazing into the night. "What are you doing out here so late?" Harry asked, and she pointed out into the darkness over the quidditch pitch.
Harry stared into the claustrophobic black, straining his eyes, but he had no idea what he was supposed to be seeing. "What-" But the answer to his unfinished question appeared as a brilliant line of light zigzagging above the pitch. A weave of blue and purple lit up the stands, stretching the dense darkness, as if it had been cast to hold the suffocating night at bay around the pitch. "What is that?" he asked, staring slack-jawed at the display.
"It's a trial charm for the dance later this month," Hermione explained, "you know, the lights and decoration." They both stared at the light show for a few silent minutes before hearing a scrape of sand on stone behind them. Ron had just joined them.
"What's going on?" Then he spotted the lights. "Whoa! Is this for the dance, then?" Ron took his place on Hermione's other side but couldn't immediately enjoy the sight before them. He had evidently stepped on something and stooped to pick it up. "Hey, what's my jumper doing up here? I don't even remember packing it."
Harry noticed that Hermione had turned determinedly back to the quidditch pitch, saying nothing, though she rubbed her forehead and avoided his stare. Ron didn't catch their exchange; he seemed to be hard at work trying to remember whether he had packed the jumper or not. "You did. I remember, back at The Burrow," Harry finally told him. A quick glance at Hermione confirmed her guilt; he saw her visibly relax and chance eye contact with him. "I borrowed it. It was just lying around and I picked it up because I thought I might need it up here," he continued.
Ron nodded slowly. Harry wasn't sure if he had convinced him; certainly, he sensed something flicker across those blue eyes, but only for a moment, and so brief he wasn't sure he had actually seen anything. But Ron seemed to accept the cover story and merely shrugged before turning to Hermione. "Cold? You can put this on," he offered quietly. She took it gratefully, murmuring her thanks with a small smile, and slipped on the maroon jumper. It fit quite ill, hanging baggily over her slight frame, though Harry thought she had settled herself in it quite quickly.
In silence, the three of them continued to watch the lights, at least, they appeared to be. Somehow, Harry sensed they were each a little distracted. Hermione's eyes were lowered in thought it seemed, and she habitually pulled the collar of the jumper over her nose before adjusting it over her lips in a way Harry was sure had nothing to do with her face feeling the cold air.
Also, he couldn't help noticing that Ron had found something much more intriguing than brightly colored lights for his attention. He was staring surreptitiously at his jumper, as if suddenly deciding that maroon wasn't such a bad color after all. Harry felt the corner of his lip curl. "Beautiful, isn't it?" he said, quickly turning to the quidditch pitch to spare Ron his smirk. He was sure Ron had caught the smug look anyway, because he had cleared his throat and muttered something, and was now glaring intensely at the lights.
After several minutes of quiet entertainment, punctuated with appreciative gasps and comments, they became bored and decided to return to bed. Harry gave a start; he had just remembered why he had been looking for Hermione in the first place. He turned to her, but thought better of asking almost immediately.
She was pushing the jumper back into Ron's hands, thanking him. Harry felt like he would have been intruding in a private moment; though he couldn't see Hermione's face, it was clear that the tentative smile and warmness in Ron's gaze were reflections of the expression on hers. He made a mental note to ask her in the morning instead. They descended the steps and parted ways at the landing, wishing each other a good night.
As the boys slipped into their dormitory, Harry watched Ron hold up the jumper, considering it for far too long a time anyone should think about any jumper. "I don't know why I even packed it," he finally said, placing it over a chair. They climbed into the comfort of their respective beds, and Harry smiled to himself in the dark, knowing that when the end of the school year arrived, Ron was going to have some trouble closing the lid of his trunk.
Thanks for reading, and please review. The Mossy Boulder (id:7237501) comes next!