For thefirstservant as a part of the Gift Giving Extravaganza, who requested my Seamus and Dean. I'm so, so sorry this is so late, darling.

Also for Camp Potter, Activity: Archery (2K or more, "Waiting"), for Cabin Lestrange.

**This fic contains brief mentions of my headcanon for Seamus's home life. Not necessary for understanding, but if you'd like to know more, this is expounded upon in great detail in my fic The Things We Overcome.

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Dean Thomas is waiting. He flips through his sketch book, watching the trees in the background of too many images. They start out attached but quickly begin to loosen their hold. He hates the images of autumn, because autumn never looks right in sketched-out gray: it needs color.

But autumn soon fades into bare winter, the tree limbs showing their whorls and knobs and looking forlorn because their cover of leaves is gone.

But in the middle of winter the sketches change. There are no more trees — their cover of forest is gone.

There are a few sketches, dark and shaded, and a few torn out pages because… because he doesn't really want to think about what happened in that manor.

But after that the sketches lighten until the pages go blank because the sketchbook isn't full yet, the story isn't over, and Dean is still waiting.

He is waiting for the right to go back to school. Waiting for this war to be over. Waiting for the day he can return to his best friend, the boy — or, man: they are all men now, somehow — he has known for seven years and a lifetime.

Because Dean misses Seamus, misses the easy laugh and even easier explosions, misses the way obscenities slipped from his lips every other sentence, if not every other word.

The sketchbook has images of him, memories slipped between present, and Dean tried to draw him over and over and over again because he felt the memory slipping away, couldn't remember if that freckle went here or here, couldn't remember the exact tilt of that eyebrow when he smiled, and that scared him.

He doesn't ever want to forget.

But now, now he sits on a beach with the sketchbook on his lap and he stares at the blank page in front of him.

He is waiting for inspiration to strike, waiting for something to happen, waiting for that itch in his fingertips that comes with the image waiting to take shape.

He is waiting for so many things.

After a long pause — so long the waves that originally kept their distance are now lapping at his feet — and without conscious thought, the pencil begins to move, tracing the now-familiar curve of a lazy, half-closed eyelid and Dean knows, even before he's finished with the eye that it is his.

Because when he is sketching, he doesn't have to be afraid. When he is sketching, he doesn't have to worry because Seamus is right there in front of him, instead of a thousand miles away in a castle with a few psychopaths without Dean there to rein in his more… impulsive urges. Because Seamus is a firecracker and Dean has always been there to tell him when it is too much, when he needs to back down, but this year, when it is most imperative to keep his mouth shut, Dean isn't there.

And when he takes the time to think about it, this terrifies Dean.

But when he is sketching, he isn't thinking about what they could be doing to him. He isn't thinking about the agony of waiting while anything could be happening and he can't help. He isn't thinking about his memories of that manor. He is thinking about the jut of his jaw and the curve of his earlobe and the way that sandy hair is always a bit in his face and Seamus is always impatiently shoving it out of the way, but he never gets it cut. He is thinking about the freckles he tried to count once — he failed miserably and they both wound up laughing in a heap on the dormitory floor, so it was worth it.

Footsteps on sand make no noise. She approaches as he is drawing the curve of a cheek and startles him as she says, softly, "Hello."

His pencil slips, drawing a jarring dark line from the right edge of his face to the edge of the paper. He swears without thinking.

"Sorry," she says in that dreamy voice of hers. "I didn't mean to startle you."

Dean waves a hand. "No, no. It's… God, it's fine, Luna, you're fine. I just…" He looks up. The moon hangs low in the sky, the sun is long gone. He didn't expect anyone else out here.

"May I?" she asks, gesturing to the sand beside him, ignoring his words and surprise.

"Yeah, yeah, 'course. Go ahead."

He sets the pencil in the sand beside him and begins the process of erasure. The thick line resists, deeply embedded in the paper. He nearly curses again without thinking — Seamus has utterly corrupted his vocabulary — but it's Luna, and she's just so… innocent, so he stops himself. The eraser rubs the same line over and over.

"You miss him, don't you?"

She's looking at the sketchbook in his hands, but even if she wasn't Dean would know who she is talking about.

"Course I do. He's my best friend," Dean mumbles, his voice rough with something he doesn't want to acknowledge. Luna moves closer, leans against him — the gesture somehow simultaneously intimate and platonic. She is warm, and for the first time Dean notices how much the temperature dropped when the sunk sank below the waves.

"It's all right to miss him, you know."

Dean pulls in a breath. "I know."

"It's okay to be scared, you know."

Luna has always had a talent for cutting straight to the heart of things, Dean has found. She hears the things he doesn't ever say, and he is grateful for this, at times.

"I feel so useless," he admits.

"You aren't." And, as though she can see Dean's confusion, she explains. "He needs something to stay alive for, Dean. Seamus Finnigan is not the type to value his life for it's own sake. But he will value it for yours."

But Dean is sick of waiting.

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Seamus Finnigan is waiting.

He is waiting for the end of this, waiting for something to happen, waiting for a catalyst, waiting for something big. He isn't sure exactly what yet.

He stares at the fluid ceiling in the Room of Requirement, watching it morph into various shapes and abstract things. He wonders absently if he might be going insane just waiting for something to happen. He isn't built for this type of inactivity. He is going stir-crazy just sitting here.

He supposes, technically, it's really his own damn fault that he's stuck in here. He played it a little too risky a few too many times, and this time he got caught. When he came back to the dorm so beat up that no one recognised him initially, Neville drew the line, and he stuck Seamus firmly on this side of it. The safe side. The coward's side.

And Seamus, in truth, understands why Neville did so. Understands why Neville banished him. The Carrows are out for his blood, and neither of them seem to have a limit to what they will do. Seamus has pushed too many buttons over the course of the year. Neither Neville nor Seamus doubts for an instant that they would kill him, if the opportunity was there. Neville has declared quite firmly that he isn't going to let that happen. Not on his watch.

So Seamus understands. And it isn't like he has some bloody death wish or anything like that. He's not a masochist. He doesn't like pain, per se, not for pain's sake.

But he does like the feel of mattering that comes with it. The feeling that he is doing something good, something right, something worthwhile. The adrenaline of action is enough to take his mind off everything that he doesn't want to think about.

Like the fact that his Da is out there somewhere, a target because he married a witch. Like the fact that the firsties this year have learned to hate Hogwarts, which makes Seamus feel cold inside because Hogwarts is his home, more home than his stepdad's manor will ever be.

Like the fact that Dean is out there somewhere, running, his very life the cost if he is found. Like the fact that Dean may already be dead, and Seamus wouldn't even know.

The thought of that is entirely unbearable. Dean Thomas is his best friend, the best friend he has ever had, more than he ever knew he needed. Dean grounds him, makes him feel stable. Without him, Seamus feels… disoriented. Because something is undeniably missing. And this is completely unacceptable.

So he waits for that, too. The return. The reunion. Waits for the moment when he will again be able to see his best friend, to touch him, to know that he is real and alive and breathing. Because Seamus cannot bear the idea that this moment may not happen, even though he knows the odds say it is highly possible one or the other won't make it to that moment. That, too, is unacceptable.

So he lies on his bed and stares at the fluid ceiling and counts moments and waits for the day when it will all be over, waits for the day when all will be again allowed at Hogwarts, waits for the day that they will free their school of this tyranny and oppression that blankets it.

Wow, he gets melodramatic when he's bored.

Hours later, Neville bursts in carrying a Gryffindor firstie over his shoulder, rushing to close the door behind him. Something impacts the wall seconds after the door disappears. Neville's eyes are wide, his body thrumming with adrenaline — Seamus is momentarily jealous before he shakes his head and tells himself to stop being insane.

"All right?" Seamus asks, swinging his legs over the side of the bed and sitting up.

"We'll… We'll be staying here tonight, I think." Neville's words come out in breathless gasps.

"What'd ye do?"

Neville waits a few moments for his breathing to settle as another bed materialises in the room. He sets the first year — who is uncouscious and doesn't look good — down gently and finally says, "They were going too far. I had to stop it."

Seamus pops up to inspect the kid. His lip is split, his temple bleeding, a bruise materialising on his cheek. There are darker patches to his robe — the way black looks when saturated with blood. Carefully, the two seventh years free the robe and examine the extent of the damage.

Neville's muscles are tight with rage as he makes his way to a cabinet that wasn't there before and pulls out a blood replenisher and something to speed up tissue regeneration. Seamus frowns.

"I thought potions were an exception? Ye can't conjure them, isn't that why we've been nicking from Pomfrey?"

A grim look twists Neville's lips. "They are. This is just the back of Pomfrey's cabinet."

Seamus grins. "Brilliant."

"Hold his head up, will you? Gravity needs to work with us on this one?"

Seamus does so, his fingers moving lightly but surely across the boy's neck, triggering a swallow. He watches the cuts knit themselves back together, standing from where he'd sat on the edge of the bed. Neville pulls a blanket up to the kid's shoulders. He's got that look in his eyes.

"Ye can't blame yourself, Nev. 'Tisn't your fault."

"I know." His voice is soft, sad. Knowing it isn't his fault doesn't stop him from blaming himself. Neville has taken the entire house under his wing this year — he feels personally responsible as the eldest, older than Seamus by not quite a month.

Seamus realises very abruptly that he is not the only one waiting desperately for this all to be over, waiting desperately for for the end this hell they've been calling a school year. Neville, too, has people he is worried about, people he is waiting desperately to see again.

They are all held in a form of stasis, waiting for something to change, waiting for this all to end.