I'm still doing these little fics. I might just sew them up into a collection and post them under Folly on ff.net, but am not sure. They all tie in to the same things, though.
A Recurring Theme
Hermione is having a recurring dream. She has it two or three times a week, and each time she does she wakes up with soaked sheets, hair stuck to her forehead and palms slippery with sweat.
The dream never changes. She dreams she’s in the Astronomy Tower watching a Quidditch game, which is silly of course, as everyone knows that that is the worst possible place to watch such a thing. Nonetheless she does, watching it with the same view as if she were in the stands.
Harry’s back to being a Seeker, but instead of feeling relieved, which she knows she would should Harry ever again decide to play, Hermione feels a nearly overwhelming dread. Dumbledore’s replaced the soft, golden Snitch wings with razors, but that doesn't stop Harry. He intends to win.
He pushes up into the air, but his face shows no expression. In life, watching Harry fly is the most beautiful, most intimate thing Hermione has ever witnessed. His face reflects his emotions better than any mirror ever could. The joy, the freedom… She knows how much peace, how much pleasure he gets out of flying, which is why she pushed so hard for him to play this year. Even if McGonagall hadn’t asked for her help, she would have still tried to persuade him to resume Quidditch on her own.
But in the dream… This is no game for Harry. He flies as effortlessly as he ever does, but there’s no love in it. She watches as he swoops about the pitch, scanning for signs of the Snitch without even sparing a glance at how the rest of the team is doing. Truthfully, Hermione’s not watching them either.
Instead, she’s desperately trying to figure out what how she’ll transfigure the razors into cottonballs, or some such thing, for she knows there’s no question as to whether or not Harry will catch the Snitch. He will. Even if it means he loses a hand to do so.
Too soon, the Snitch appears, and Harry goes after it - a streak of red. She’s not fast enough, smart enough to cast her spell in time. Harry’s upon the Snitch, and almost… Almost it dips out of reach. The broom doesn’t maneuver properly, but rather than give himself another shot at it, Harry bodily throws himself off the broom, catching the Snitch even as he begins to fall back to earth.
This is when she realizes he’s going to fall right past the Astronomy Tower window where she’s standing. Terrified, she doesn’t pronounce the Wingardium Leviosa spell properly, and he continues to plummet. Throwing her wand aside, she reaches out her arms as if to catch him.
“Grab my hand!” she screams and feels a jolt that nearly tears her arms out of their sockets. Somehow, she’s caught him, but his hands are shredded and bloody and it makes it nearly impossible for her to get a good grip.
“Your hands are too slippery! Wipe them on your robes!” she calls, but Harry is limp, doing nothing to save his own life. He looks up at her with flat eyes, and she realizes he’s not even trying to hold on.
“What are you doing?” she nearly shrieks. “Do you want to die?”
“That’s not the question,” he answers softly as she desperately tries to lever herself so that she can begin to pull him up, bracing herself against each side of the window with her legs, her back and shoulders straining against the dead weight.
“What’s the question, then?” she asks between gasps, but try as she might, Harry doesn’t budge.
“Do I want to live?” he asks.
“That’s stupid. Of course you do,” Hermione responds crossly, knowing that the key to saving Harry is coaxing him into saving himself.
“I want my life back,” he says and his hands slip completely from her grasp. She snags his robes and he bounces, falling just a few feet further. She tries to find a way to hook her hands in the fabric, but fails and wants to sob so badly she can hardly breathe. Why doesn’t he help her?
“What life?” she asks him desperately, trying to make sense of what he's saying.
“Exactly,” Harry replies with a pleased expression, and the fabric of the robes slips between her fingers, burning her palms. She frantically screams for him to try to fly, but he doesn’t. He falls but never lands. She sees his face, oddly tranquil, and waits for him to impact, but he never does; he just keeps falling.
She’s tried to tell Ron about the dream, but he’s such a boy, and all he fixates on is that she’s in the Astronomy Tower watching Harry. He insists on teasing her about having a secret crush on Harry until she’s forced to swat him upside the head with her seat cushion. She wishes Ron would take these dreams seriously. She does.
She’s in the Astronomy Tower for a reason, she knows. Probably it is because of that ridiculous prophecy Harry told them about in a surprising moment of candor at the beginning of the year. It appalls her how seriously everyone takes it. After all, this is Trewlawney they’re talking about. But for Harry, it’s written in the stars.
She could also be in that Tower because it’s the only place where you can see where Sirius is. Sirius, the Dog Star. It could even be because it’s an open view of the heavens, where Harry’s parents are supposed to be.
This morning she’s nursing her tea, watching over Harry, who’s already awake and tucked himself into the corner with his books open, studying industriously. He looks exhausted and skinny and lost. She wishes she could talk to him about her dream. She wishes she could talk to Ron. They’re splintered, fractured, and she’s not sure how to bring Harry back to them both. She’s not foolish enough to think things can be as they were… But they can help him. She is certain of this.
“That’s it,” she says to herself, frowning as she comes to a decision, and grabs out a parchment and quill from her bag and begins to write a letter. She refuses to think about how upset Harry is going to be, if it’s the right thing to do, or if he’ll resent her for doing it. When she's done, she stands up and catches Harry’s eye.
“Hermione?” he asks gently. It’s oddly disorienting, because in that moment he’s almost how he used to be. He focuses on her, his eyes intent, his tone both questioning and concerned. She swallows past the lump in her throat and forces her face to remain neutral.
“I’m starved and don’t feel like waiting for Ron to wake up to go to breakfast. Would you like to join me?” she asks, knowing perfectly well he won’t.
Harry smiles, and his mask is back in place. He’s never hungry anymore, and she’s already talked to Pomfrey about ways to sneak supplements and appetite stimulants into his tea. She knows she’s meddling, but the hands-off approach hasn’t worked either…
“No, thank you. I’ll join you in a bit,” he replies. Of course. She nods and waves distractedly. She hurries to the Owlery, anxious to send her letter off before she changes her mind. Hedwig sits dejectedly in the corner, but brightens when she recognizes Harry’s friend.
“Hey, girl, you’ve been pretty bored lately, haven’t you?” Hermione asks sympathetically. Hedwig quirks her head as if she understands the words, and she marvels at how easily she can read human emotion into Hedwig’s expressive eyes.
“Would you deliver a message for me?” she asks, and knows she’ll incur Harry’s wrath for certain now. But he’s wrong to ground Hedwig because he’s afraid she’ll get hurt, and he’s wrong to shut out the world. Hedwig quickly shifts forward on her perch and eagerly sticks out her leg.
“You be careful, Hedwig. I need you to take this to Remus Lupin as fast as you can,” Hermione instructs. Hedwig bobs her head as if nodding in approval, then launches into the morning air with a whoosh.
Decision made, Hermione’s surprised to realize it’s easier to breathe; as if she’s been weighed down facing a decision she didn’t even know she needed to make. She wanders to the Great Hall for breakfast feeling better than she has in weeks and realizes Harry might not forgive her.
He’s falling, though, and she’s smart enough to know she can’t catch him. But get enough people helping, and someone’s bound to cast the right spell to keep him from hitting the ground.