Author's Notes: Originally written for the 30minutefics community on Livejournal. This was written in 45 minutes and hasn't seen a beta.
It's raining, violent and sudden, washing away the heavy air that cloaked the castle.
The rain falls down, the fat drops striking the charm that shields them in a heavy tattoo that changes tempo each time the north-easterly wind swirls around and about. It's a pleasant sound, reminiscent of the weekend his family spent in a caravan in Rhyl, back when he was young enough for an ice cream to bring happiness and for the week long factory closure in the summer to be a Good Thing.
He doesn't tell her that.
It's the feeling of being warm and safe while outside the world is doing its level best to shake itself to pieces. He pulls the blanket higher up his chest, revelling in the momentary illusion of comfort and safety.
Beyond the boundaries of the charm, the leaves are flying from the trees, the boughs bent almost to the ground in the ridiculous winds. By rights they should have abandoned the gardens long ago for the safety of the castle, but no one has come to collect them and by silent mutual consent, they have chosen not to leave.
There isn't any danger. If the greenhouse behind them had been of Muggle construction, the panes would have already begun to shatter, but Pomona's kingdom is almost as well protected as the school itself. Potting beds that survived the recent battle won't succumb to a little Weather.
A fresh curtain of rain sweeps towards them. He watches its progress with interest, anticipating the moment when it will hammer against the shield that protects them.
It hits full force, the sound it makes almost as satisfying as the drowsy snugness of being swaddled in a sea of blankets and cushions. The late summer storm with its heavy, swollen beads of rain and sudden, rushing winds can't touch him in here. She's made certain of it.
It's a clever charm, somewhere between a Protego and an Impervious. Like a Bubble-Head Charm, but forming a high dome around them, locking them away from the growing storm. A fascinating bit of magic.
He won't tell her that either.
She's been silent the entire time. At first he resented her presence but now he finds a simple sort of comfort in her proximity. Since his return from St Mungo's there have been many visitors, professing their support and contrition. Many have come, but none have stayed. None save her.
She rarely speaks.
He isn't sure how badly she was injured. He heard the reports of what had happened in Malfoy's drawing room, but most of the conversation surrounding her consists of words like brave and resourceful, unlike the snake, tearing, and nerve damage that always seem to float in his wake. The very fact that she is sat beside him now, her chin resting on the arms that rest upon her knees, rather than up at the castle with the others, would suggest that she is far from recovered.
The rain streaks down the shield, blurring the view of the forest, but the spell continues to hold. Her magic must at least be uncompromised, even if she handles her new birchwood wand with distaste. Even moving as carefully as she does, there must still be a use for her up in the Great Hall or along one of the twisting corridors with their shattered windows and broken flagstones. Yet she stays, gifting him with an extraordinary display of magic just so that he doesn't have to get wet.
Once he would have believed her to be showing off. Now he lets himself acknowledge that her abilities are worthy of respect.
That she managed to save him also impresses him. Her face is the first thing that he remembers in this new world, peering down at him in gentle concern. His old world – that mess of fear, hatred and guilt – crumbled just as surely as that Dark Lord did, caught in a rebounding spell while he lay unconscious in the Shack.
That she chooses to spend her time with him now is . . . unsettling.
She's become his one constant. He knows that she is simply so used to looking after those around her that she probably can't help but watch over him, her protective instincts simply transferring to a new soul in need. Being classed together with the likes of Longbottom and Potter would once have clawed at his guts, but that was before he realised what it meant to be one of her chicks. He's been watched for most of his life; he can't remember the last time he was watched over.
He considers a quiet eternity of days like this. Being wheeled outside to enjoy the fading summer sun, her a constant companion at his side. She's young, he knows. Soon she'll loose this need for silence and she'll start to fill the spaces around him and inside him with her chatter. She'll remember that she has a life outside the literal bubble that she's created and leave his side for the family and friends that she has left.
Not for a while yet, he consoles himself. For now she needs his silence and his frailty and the strength that comes from finding a soul more broken that yourself.
In time he'll find out what happened to her in those cold, silent months in which she hid. In time he'll find a way to make it right. For now, he's happy to give her his silence. Maybe in time he'll be able to share something of the gentle serenity he's found at her side, cosseted in blankets and careful spells.
He thinks she might like that.
The wind swirls round and the rain strikes again, loud then quiet then loud again. Soon the storm will blow itself out and someone will remember where they are, picking their way across the wet grass with care to retrieve them both.
He lets his eyes drift shut.
She'll be there when he wakes up.