Resonance, Chapter Four
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Jan. 4th, 2011 | 01:33 am
Chapter Four / Paid The Price
TIME STAMP: Approx. six weeks after the Battle at Hogwarts.
In this chapter, Harry and Ron and Hermione have moved out of the Burrow, and on to recovery.
TIME STAMP: Approx. six weeks after the Battle at Hogwarts.
In this chapter, Harry and Ron and Hermione have moved out of the Burrow, and on to recovery.
If you feel you've paid the price,
and your wounds should cease to heal.
And everything you love in life,
spins like a winding wheel.
If you should wake to find you're abandoned,
and the road you travel leads to a dead end.
When death creeps in to play it's part,
you must follow your heart.
-Against The Grain, by City And Colour
After nearly a week of hunting for a flat, the perfect one made itself available to Ron and Harry. A modest three-bedroom place, above a little Charms bookstore in Diagon Alley. Ron had refused to look any further. He'd hoped that being so close to so many books would rekindle Hermione's reading, a distraction from her depression. Also given the fact that the place was so close to the twin's shop, where Ron had been helping out, there was no denying; the place was perfect.
They'd brought the idea to Hermione's attention then, that evening in the sitting room. She'd looked up from petting Crookshanks to stare at Harry for a moment and then nodded.
"Okay." She'd whispered, returning to watching Mrs. Weasley knitting near the fireplace. Her lack of excitement put a look of pure devastation on Ron's face.
Looking back, all three of them would agree, leaving the Burrow that morning was one of the hardest things they ever had to do. There were promises to reunite for dinner the following week, hugs and slaps on the back all around and the family dwindled down until only Mrs. Weasley, George, and Ginny stood by the door with the trio.
"It's not like you're never going to see us, Mum" Ron said into her shoulder, rubbing her back as she wept. "We'll visit loads. And this way I can keep a close eye on Georgie, make sure he doesn't blow anything up."
George pretended not to hear this, as he shook Harry's hand.
"My Ronnie, so grown up." She sniffed, patting his cheek. "I'm so proud of you- all of you, oh Hermione dear, come and give us a hug-"
To everyone's surprise, Hermione lunged across the hall throwing herself into Mrs. Weasley's arms, shoulder's shaking.
"There there, dear." Mrs. Weasley held her close, smoothing a hand over Hermione's hair. "You're going to be just fine, these boys will take the best care of you, I know it. But when you find out they can't cook, you come on home and let Mum fix you up something, alright?"
Hermione nodded fiercely. Despite having parents of her own, Harry knew Hermione felt just as he did when it came to Mrs. Weasley. The magical world was different and distant from the one she'd been raised in, and Mrs. Weasley had provided her with care and guidance her own mother could not give from the Muggle world.
As Hermione stepped aside to embrace Ginny, Harry moved towards Mrs. Weasley.
"Harry, my dear." She wrapped her arms around him warmly, and he returned the hug with everything he had, every ounce of love he'd ever felt for this woman.
"I had half of my Gringotts vault moved to yours." Harry blurted into her ear.
Mrs. Weasley pulled back and gaped at him.
"Don't argue, please don't argue." Harry pleaded, holding her hands in his. "Nothing I can ever say, or do, will ever repay you for everything you've done for me, everything you've given to keep me safe. But I won't watch you all struggle to take care of each other anymore. I know you're all too proud to talk about it, so lets not talk about it. Okay?"
Mrs. Weasley trembled as she pulled him in again.
"You silly boy," she whispered. "You will never understand what you've given this family."
"I'll see you this weekend," Harry said hoarsely, kissing her cheek. "For dinner."
He moved to kiss Ginny quickly.
"Drop by, won't you?" he asked, forehead pressed against hers.
"'Course." She smiled. "Take care of 'Mione."
He kissed her again, and turned to take Hermione's hand in his. Ron grasped his shoulder, and they were off.
After a week in the flat, Ron gave up insisting that Hermione sleep alone in her room. It was as if even in sleep she knew she was alone, and every night she woke screaming. After one particularly hard night, when she'd screamed and screamed and broken a window with wild magic, Ron gave up his chivalry act. She slept in his room now.
She spent her nights with Ron, but her days with Harry. Ron left early in the mornings to open the shop with George, and didn't return until well after lunch. On busy days, it was after closing before he would return.
Hermione had good days, where she would wake, and cook breakfast for Harry. The two of them would go down to the Alley, take lunch to the shop for Ron and George. Most days, Harry would hear her when he woke, bustling about the kitchen, or pacing the halls nervously.
When Harry wakes to complete silence, he knows today will be a bad day. The first thing he does is creep across the hall to look in on her. Poking his head into Ron's room he finds her lying on her side, awake, staring at the wall.
"Hey." He says softly, so as not to startle her. "You up for going out today?"
She shakes her head and closes her eyes.
"Okay, that's alright." Harry nods. He knows what kind of day he's dealing with. It won't be the first. "I'm going to grab a shower, ok?"
She nods silently.
Harry showers and dresses, scarf's down a swift breakfast and takes a cup of tea and slice of toast to Ron's room.
"Hungry?" he asks, sitting beside her. She shakes her head again. "Come on, Hermione, sit up and have some tea, at least."
It takes a bit more coaxing, but finally she sits up, shaking hands take the warm cup from Harry's fingers. He lays the plate of toast across her lap, leaving his hand on her knee.
"If you don't eat, Ron's going to want to take you to the hospital again." He says, seriously. Ron had mostly forced her to St. Mungos once already. Their kitchen cupboards now stored bottles of potions to lessen anxiety and calm panic, Dreamless Sleep Draught, and Nourishment Potions for days when Hermione couldn't stomach food. "And I can't let you sit here in bed all day, he'll throw a fit, you know that."
Hermione nods again. She nods a lot lately, now that she hardly speaks. She does however pick up her single slice of toast and take a bite. Harry's heart swells with hope. She chews, her eyes locked with Harry's. He smiles at her.
"You're starving aren't you?" he asks. Hermione hums noncommittally, takes a sip of her tea.
"Why has Ron left books all about?" she asks softly. "He even puts them in the bed, I rolled onto one last night."
"He's hoping you'll read one." Harry says. He can't remember the last time she's said this much at once, and maybe today won't be such a bad day after all. "We're kind of freaked out that you've gone so long without picking one up. You love books."
"I just don't much feel like reading." she replies, staring into her tea. "I'm too tired. I don't like the Sleep Draught. I sleep so much, but I'm still so tired."
Harry wants to jump up and down with excitement. This is the first time she's shown any interest in true conversation, the first time she's voiced her opinion on any of the methods they've tried.
"I know, stuffs not the best for real rest." Harry says, understanding. "You want to try without it?"
"Maybe..." Hermione takes another sip of tea, meets Harry's gaze again. "Harry?"
"Do- do you ever feel like this?" she let's it tumble out of her mouth, like she's been waiting forever to ask. Her cheeks color and she wont look at him, and he thinks she's going to clam up again, but she pushes through. "Like you just want to sleep all day and pretend none of it's happened?"
"Hermione." Harry grabs her face, and plants a kiss to her forehead, so pleased, so relieved to hear her say those words. "Yes. Completely. Every day. Ron too. If George didn't need him so much, he'd be right here with you, in bed all day."
"Why- how do you...?" Harry strains to hear Hermione's whispers. She still won't meet his eye. "I just feel so-"
"Weak? Useless?" Harry supplies. He knows, he's felt these things himself. "You've been through awful things, Hermione. And you just plowed right through them. What Bellatrix did to you, anyone else would have been a total wreck, but Hermione, you got back on your feet, back to work, the very same day. You didn't let yourself be scared, the whole time we were out there, you kept it together. And now you're handling all of that stress. This is how your mind is dealing with it. It doesn't make you weak, it makes you human. Dumbledore told me that once..."
"I just- I want to be better, Harry." she sniffs, putting her empty teacup down on the bedside table, beside the plate of toast crumbs. "I want to feel like myself again."
"You will." Harry says, wiping a tear off her cheek. "I promise you. It's just going to take a little time is all..."
"You and Ron are doing so well..."
"Are you kidding?" Harry laughs. "After you went to bed last night he and I sat up on the sofa and cried together. Very manly."
Hermione smile is minuscule, but genuine. Harry beams at her.
"Seriously, if we weren't so focused on you, we'd be blubbering messes all the time, Hermione." Harry says, honestly. "I'm more relieved than anything, I know it's twisted, but I don't care. This is finally over for me. And Ron's holding his own, but he's struggling. He's holding it together, for George, for you..."
"Oh, Harry!" Hermione flings herself forward into Harry's arms.
Harry freezes for a moment at this sudden unexpected gesture. This is the most Hermione-like thing she's done since they buried Fred. Harry can't help the tears that fill his eyes.
"You're both so good to me." Hermione whispers, gripping the back of his sweater.
"I'ss 'cause we love you." Harry says softly, burying his face in her hair. "Come out to the kitchen with me? You've been cooped in this room for too long."
"Can I take a shower?"
"Of course, yeah." Harry says enthusiastically. For the past couple weeks Ron's been drawing her baths, coaxing her into the bathroom, and sitting on the floor in the hall, singing loudly so she'll know he hasn't left. "I haven't got to sing though, have I?"
Hermione shakes her head, her cheeks pink, a tiny smile on her lips.
"Go ahead, I'll bring you some clothes."
Hermione rises and picks up her dishes. Harry hears her put them in the sink in the kitchen, and a minute later the shower starts up. Harry steals a pair of Ron's sweatpants from the wardrobe and goes to his own room to grab the thickest jumper he owns. Hermione is more comfortable in their clothes on days like this. He goes to the kitchen and puts on some more tea and grabs a piece of parchment to send Ron an update, just as he does every morning.
She's not up for leaving and I had to talk her into eating but she's talking today. Let us know when you'll be home.
He whistles for Pigwidgeon and sends him off out the window. The little owl will make this short trip up the Alley several times a day.
The shower has gone off by then and Harry grabs the clothes he's gathered and makes his way to the bathroom. The door is left open a crack- Ron's Rule. He knocks on the doorframe.
"Hermione?" he calls. "I've got clothes for you."
Harry is met with silence and can't help the anxiety building within him.
"Hermione, you decent?" Harry pushed the door open a little more. "I'm coming in, alright?"
Harry pokes just his head around the door at first. The rest of him follows swiftly when he spot her sitting on the cold floor, wrapped in a towel, hair soaking. She's cradling her arm in her lap, staring at the word carved there- mudblood.
"Hey, hey, hey." Harry drops to his knees on the floor in front of her. He whips out his wand and casts a drying spell over her, hoping to quell her shivering. He then lifts her chin, forcing her to look him in the eye. "We don't look at that, remember?"
Another one of Ron's rules.
Hermione's breathing is rapid and shallow. Harry is starting to panic too; Ron's gotten good at dealing with her fits, but they still shake Harry greatly.
"Okay, it's okay, Hermione, you're fine." He mumbles, grabbing her clothes and praying she's lucid enough to dress herself. "Let's put some clothes on, alright?"
She takes the clothes from him and he helps her stand, next to the vanity so she can prop herself up. He turns to face the door as she changes.
"Ready?" he asks after a minute. He peeks over his shoulder and sees her fully dressed. He's barely turned all the way around when her knees give out. He catches her just in time. "Whoah, okay, okay. Let's get down the hall alright? Then we can sit down."
He's coaching himself as much as her as he lifts her into his arms, carrying her down the hall to their tiny living area. He sits her on the sofa.
"Hey, hey, Hermione?" Harry tucks her long hair away from her face. She's so pale, her breathing getting more rapid with every inhale. "You need to slow it down, okay? You've done this before Hermione, you can do it now."
"Ron?" she chokes out, confused eyes searching Harry's face.
"He's at the shop. He's with George." It's times like this when Harry selfishly wishes Ron would just stay home with them. "Do you want me to floo him?"
"No- no, Harry-"
"I'm right here, Hermione."
Harry's kicking himself. They were supposed to keep her away from what the Healer's had called her triggers. The scar on her arm was definitely a trigger. It suddenly occurs to him the real reason Ron sits outside the bathroom and sings. To distract her from it.
"Hermione, I'm sorry- I'm so sorry, I should have known." Harry let's her grip his hands in hers. "Let me get your potion, alright?"
She nods and releases him hesitantly.
Harry races to the kitchen and pours a cup of the fizzing orange calming potion. He sprints the short distance back to the sofa and helps Hermione guide the cup to her lips. She drinks it in one, shuddering.
"It- it f-feels like she's h-here." Hermione gasps. "Like she's stan-standing over me-"
"But you know she's not." Harry says, guiding her to lay down on the sofa- the potion usually sends her down hard. "Its just you and me here. Breathe, okay? Let the potion work, you'll feel better in a minute."
Harry can tell the very second the potion takes effect. Hermione's rapid breathing stutters to a stop and then picks up at a normal pace. The terrorized look in her eyes fades away leaving just tiredness, her body sinking into the sofa, fingers going limp in Harry's hand.
"You're okay," Harry whispers, more to himself than anything. "You're okay. I'm going to floo Ron-"
"No, Harry don't." Hermione says softly. "George needs him... I'll just take a nap..."
"Okay, okay..." Harry squeezes her hand, running his thumb over her knuckles. "You want some Sleep Draught?"
He doesn't get an answer though, because Hermione is already asleep. Harry sits by the couch for an hour, waiting to wake her from the inevitable nightmare, but it doesn't come. He gets up and spends the day creeping around the apartment, cleaning and tidying, doing Ron's laundry. He checks in on Hermione every few minutes, once stopping to feel for her pulse, scared by how still she was. He's washing some dishes when Ron comes noisily up the steps and through the kitchen door.
"Hey." Ron claps Harry on the back as he tosses his cloak over a kitchen chair. He looks round. "She's not still in bed, is she?"
Harry dries his hands and turns round to face Ron.
"What? Bad day?"
"I don't know what kind of day this is." Harry says honestly. He quickly runs through the days events for Ron.
"No potion?" Ron says, amazed. "And she's still sleeping?"
Harry nods, silently.
"Good, I know." Harry nods, busying himself at the stove. "Sit down, I made soup."
"Soup? You're turning into a regular old housemaid," laughs Ron. "Aren't you, mate?"
"If you don't piss off you can find another housemaid to cook your meals." Harry says hotly, placing two bowls on the table. The two eat quietly. Ron makes easy conversation about the shop; he can tell Harry is still shaken by Hermione's earlier episode.
"What time is it?"
Hermione comes shuffling into the room, Harry's too large sweater pulled close around her. She's put her hair into a bun and a little color has returned to her face.
"Nearly 6." Harry says, glancing at the clock. "Hungry?"
Hermione shrugs and sits down next to Ron who leans over to plant a kiss on her temple.
"Alright, love?" he murmurs, lingering near her face. She nods absently, whispering thanks to Harry as he slides a bowl of soup towards her.
"Bread?" Harry asks. She shakes her head. This is how three of them communicate most days. A series of nods and shakes of the head, significant glances and one word sentences. This has become comfortable, their normal.
Harry and Ron return to their conversation about the shop, and George, watching out of the corner of their eye as Hermione slowly but steadily makes her way through the bowl of soup. They both try to hide their grins when she snags a piece of bread off the plate in the centre of the table, ripping it in half and dipping one corner into her broth. In the end she only finishes a couple bites of the bread before getting up and dumping the leftovers in the rubbish. She places the dishes in the sink and turns to lean against the counter, scratching absently at her scarred arm.
"Oi, don't pick at that." Ron warns, reaching out and snagging her around the waist. He pulls her close and yanks her sleeve down over her arm, covering the word carved into Hermione's skin. Harry has to marvel sometimes at how their roles have nearly reversed- how it's Ron's job to be logical now, to take control, while Hermione is passive and slightly oblivious. He knows it makes Ron uneasy to handle her this way, but he puts out a confident front for her.
"Game of chess, Ron?" Harry asks breezily. Rod nods. Hermione fetches the board for them and they all seat themselves on the tiny living room floor. They play a lot of chess now; something to keep Hermione busy with so she won't go back to bed. She doesn't play, just sits by Ron and observes. This is one of few things he's better than her at, she likes to have Ron teach her. An hour passes and Ron's won his third game.
"See? I told you he shouldn't have done that!" Ron says excitably to Hermione as his Queen beats Harry's King to prices with it's own crown. Hermione smiles and plants a kiss on his cheek. Ron looks shocked, ears reddening.
Harry's not really sure where they're at right now, Ron and Hermione. Hermione had never been shy with touch when it came to Harry; she often leaned her head on his shoulder or her feet in his lap on a sofa, grasped his hand during intense conversation. She had always held back when it came to Ron though, an obvious tension in the air. She's far more open with him now, holding hands a lot, often curling up on his lap for comfort. Ron is generous with kisses to her cheeks and forehead, and terms of endearment like love and darling that make Harry want to vomit when he hears them come from Ron's mouth. And though she doesn't often return them openly, Hermione doesn't seem to mind his newfound tenderness. Harry had assumed their bed sharing to be an obvious sign of something more than friendship, until Ron left early one morning and Harry awoke to find Hermione curled like a kitten beside him in his bed, her head against his back. Though they're relationship dynamic has obvious changed, Ron had admitted they hadn't actually kissed since that heated moment in the midst of battle.
"I think I'll head to bed." Hermione says softly. Ron looks disappointed.
"You slept the whole day, 'Mines." he points out. Harry grins to himself when he hears the nickname. It's been a while; it was something they used teasingly back in Second Year.
"Don't call me that, Ronald." she snaps, in true Hermione form. Ron beams.
"Thas my girl." Ron laughs, squeezing her hand as she lifts herself off the floor. Hermione shakes herself free of his grip. She runs a hand over the top of Harry's head as she passes by.
She scowls but as she turns for the hallway Harry swears he sees her smile.
A/N: Hermione's struggles in this chapter are based on research, written accounts of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, and my own experiences with Depression and Anxiety. If anyone sees any major errors though, or can offer feedback on how this would translate in the Wizarding World, please feel free to review.
EDIT: It was brought to my attention in a review that Hermione having the word 'Mudblood' carved into her arm was a scene from the movie, and not a piece of canon from the novels. I was aware of this but decided to use it anyways. In my opinion it was the most haunting scene in any of the films, and those added movie moments are done so well and are so in tune with JKR's characters, there is no reason not to include them in what we call "canon".