Authors note: Yay for updates! I'm really enjoying writing this, though I want to change the title… Any suggestions?
Disclaimer: Romione wouldn't exist if I owned Harry Potter…
I see the light surrounding you
It was a stormy night with wind so strong that it snapped branches from trees and rain falling so hard it stung. A man in a heavy black cloak walked briskly down the bare street seemingly impervious to the rain.
Two weeks of hiding had taught Draco that stormy weather was the safest time to find food. Streets were empty as people holed up in their homes to escape the miserable weather and it was easy to spot any suspicious activity. Death eaters or snatchers wouldn't get anywhere near him in stormy weather. With a glance at his watch and a heavy sigh he disapparated.
A whole gruelling week had passed since Draco's breakdown in Scotland. On the day of the breakdown he had found a ruined one bedroom cottage not far from where he had been sitting. A few well-placed reparo's, countless protection spells, a hay bale transfigured into a bed, and the cottage became his base. Stealing food and money had become an everyday occurrence on the trips he took around the country to locate a member of the order that could take him to Harry Potter. So far he had been unsuccessful which meant tomorrow he had to try the most dangerous and unreliable type of communication available to him; sending Potter a patronus and hoping he'd show up.
"Just take her Draco – the mudblood bitch wants it!"
Bellatrix Lestrange snarled cruelly at Hermione who lay huddled on the floor in the Malfoy ballroom, blood dripping from her arms and tears streaming down her face.
"Please no! Not that, anything but that! Please!"
Hermione awoke with a strangled gasp. She could still hear Bellatrix's shrill voice in her ears and shuddered, pulling the soft blankets up to her chest. She lay in bed with her eyes squeezed shut for a moment, taking time to remember her surroundings before swinging her legs over the side of the bed and heading to the adjoining bathroom.
Steam began to fill the room as Hermione stripped off her pyjamas and stepped under the hot shower. It's over now, she thought to herself, just forget it, don't let her win, don't let it affect you. Every morning she went through the same ritual, talking to herself in the shower in some sort of attempt at moving on from the events at Malfoy manor. She knew she should talk to someone, and that she was being more than a hypocrite hiding it, but worse was going on, people were dying, her problems were hardly that important. Still, Poppy had only given her one more week before she'd tell the order her secret, and then of course by default Hermione would have to tell them what happened at the manor and the boys would be so upset the news didn't come from her…
Hermione's thoughts carried her through drying off, pulling on a pair of dark blue jeans and a grey knitted shirt that had been a gift from her mother. While she was coaxing her hair into a tight French plait in an attempt to keep the stray curls from her face, a knock sounded at her door.
"Come in!" she called.
Harry yawned as he stepped into the room, clad only in tatty pyjama bottoms and an old Weasley jumper that made her heart ache.
"I heard the water running. 'Mione it's five in the morning, why are you awake?"
"Well we're on breakfast duty in an hour!" She exclaimed, smiling and drawing him in for a quick hug. They hadn't seen much of each other in the past week, Ginny had been keeping Harry to herself, smothering him Hermione thought personally.
"Besides I couldn't really sleep that well, lots of nightmares I guess," she mumbled into his shoulder. Harry gave her a comforting squeeze.
"They still haven't stopped? I know how it feels 'Mione, just try not to let them get to you."
Lifting up her chin he looked earnestly at her before continuing, "If there's something bothering you or you need to talk you know I'm always here don't you? I hate seeing you hurt Hermione, you're my best friend. You've always helped me, let me be there for you."
She looked up at him and smiled, "you're my best friend too Harry, but there are other more important things going on right now."
She held her hand up to stop Harry cutting her off.
"Ron needs us Harry. I know he hasn't been the friendliest lately but that more than certifies the fact that he really needs our support right now, don't you think?"
"I do Hermione, but…"
"There are no buts Harry, I'll have to wait. Anyway, Ginny needs you too."
He sank down on the freshly made bed with an exasperated sigh, lying back and throwing his arm over his eyes.
"She won't leave me alone you know? She seems to think I need her around every minute holding on to me in case I break down and need her to smother me. But I need space from her! I don't want to be with her, everything's changed now! I can't handle it, and I don't know how to tell her that considering what she's been through."
There was a moment of silence, awkward because Hermione knew Harry had broken down. She could see it in his eyes every day, knew from the red around his eyes every second morning when they went to breakfast duty together that he'd woken up alone, crying. Laying down on the bed next to him she wrapped her arms around him and held him tight.
"We'll talk tonight, Harry," she murmured into his chest, "I'll tell you everything, and you can do the same."
"Thank you, I need it."
After the expertly cooked French breakfast muffins and eggy-bread bake, Harry, Ron and Hermione found some unexpected time to themselves as the others cleared up the kitchen. The three found themselves in front of the massive open fire in the living-room, Hermione sitting with her legs curled beneath her on the rug on the floor and Ron and Harry side-by-side on the couch. The silence was familiar and they drew comfort from being so close to each other. After a year of being on the run it was only natural that they felt uneasy spending so much time apart.
"Ron? Ron, will you talk to me?"
He said nothing, continuing to stare at the wall from where he sat at the end of his bed.
Sighing and walking into the room anyway, Hermione sat behind him and drew him into a hug, placing her chin on his shoulder.
"I'm so sorry, Ron."
For an unknown amount of time her arms grew damp as silent tears landed on them. She tightened her grip on him.
"I love you, you know?"
She drew in a sharp breath and as if reading her mind he pulled away quickly, standing up and wiping his eyes.
"No, not… Merlin. Not like that Hermione. You're like my sister, my best friend. I moved on from the stupid idea of us when we were on the run, you infuriate me too much to be with."
Breathing in deeply she laughed a little, "I thought I'd have to let you down easy, about the kiss in the chamber. Thank Merlin. I love you too."
His mouth curved up at the corners, taking the shape of something that almost resembled a smile. Probably his first since the battle.
"Let's just put it down to the heat of the moment, yeah?"
She smiled right back at him, "let's."
"Breakfast is always best when you two make it together," Ron stated, breaking the silence and jolting Hermione from her musings. The sentence was unexpected, the most he'd said all week.
Harry grinned, sensing this, and clapped him on the shoulder, "thanks mate, we work well together."
Hermione looked up, noticing a mysterious smile on Ron's face.
"What?" She demanded, shooting him an inquisitive look.
"Nothing, just mum would be proud," he answered, the genuine smile proving he was happy about this fact. And finally, it was as if a weight lifted from the three of them.
Aware that he had just offered them the biggest compliment he could Harry and Hermione thanked him generously before they all lay back in a state of euphoric happiness, finally, silent once more.
A half hour passed in silence and just as Harry readied himself to get up and try find something in the Black library that could aid him in his search for the next horcrux, a patronus burst through the wall. They all jumped noticeably, calming as the horse pranced in front of the fire before it seemed to recognise Harry and trotted up to him.
A voice came from the translucent animal, a voice that they all recognised.
"Potter. I know this will seem insane, but I am in need of your help. When the Order scattered and the battle ended The Dark Lord murdered my parents right before my eyes as penance for their treachery, saving you. You may not realise this, I'm unsure how much Granger has told you, but the sole reason I had anything to do with the Death Eaters is because He and my father were holding my mother's life over my head. If I stepped out of line once, she would die. Not that it made much difference in the end.
I need your help. I have been on the run for two weeks and I am being chased. Obviously because I have information that I can provide the order with, information that would certainly be advantageous to you and the cause. I am in an old cottage on Linn of Dee road, Braemar, Scotland. I will drop the wards between eleven and one today if you can find any way to get to me. I believe in the cause… Harry. I believe in you and I need your help. Please don't let me die out here."
The message ended with a desperate edge.
"Well," Harry stated, "that was unexpected."
Hermione was white as a sheet. She jumped up from her spot on the rug, grabbing her boots from the door and shoving them unceremoniously on her feet.
"It's eleven o' three, we have to help him! Now, please!"
Ron had gone red, "what does he mean 'I'm unsure how much Granger has told you' Hermione? What does that mean?"
"Oh for Merlin's sake. He helped me okay! He helped me that night at the manor, he made what happened almost bearable. I know he's a good person, he has to be. Now we have to go! Every second those wards are down is dangerous, and need I remind you a bigger chance of losing vital information that can help us win this damned war?" Hermione's breath was ragged and her eyes wide, pleading with Harry to understand though she needn't bother, he agreed with her on the last point.
"It is important we get that information, Ron. Anything that could help us win the war right?"
Suddenly Ron's eyes were steely, and he gave a sharp nod in agreement.
"Right," Harry answered, taking charge, "get ready. Hermione make sure you grab your beaded bag; we'll meet by the door in ten. Make sure not to tell anyone, I'm sure no one else in the order will be as keen to help Malfoy as we are."
Ron strode out of the room in a purposeful hurry but Harry pulled Hermione back by her elbow.
"Technically this is against every single rule Kingsley has set, 'Mione. You better have judged his character right, because we could very well be walking into a trap."
She knew it was not his intention to offend her, or disregard her intelligence. He was right after all; if Hermione was wrong about Malfoy they would all pay the price. Possibly with their lives. Except she wasn't wrong about him, she had never been so sure of anything in her life.
"I'm so sorry Granger."
"This isn't me. It isn't me! They're forcing me to do this Granger, I have to or mother will die. Please understand I don't want to be doing this."
"I will be as quick as possible."
Hermione nodded, straightening her shoulders and gritting her teeth. Time to face her demons.
AN: There you go! The chapters are getting slightly longer, hopefully I can learn how to write lots and cut it off in the right place soon :p again, this is my first ever fanfic so it's hard and I probably make heaps of mistakes.
Thank you for all the reviews, favourites and follows, they really make my day to receive and give me incentive to keep writing.
The chapter title is from the song 'Light Surrounding You" by Evermore