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…Wake Unto Me...
She knew he was there.
He was always there.
She had cried herself to sleep and he came to her…just like he always did. She didn’t know how long the strange, illusive custom had been going on…It felt like ages but really it had only been a few weeks.
She cried…he came. It was always the same. She would feel his arm tighten around her waist, like it was now, holding her in the spot lest she turn around and see his face.
She didn’t even know who he was. The lunacy of the situation made her choke on the sob that threatened to break free. There she was, Hermione Granger…Head girl…top of the class…Best friends to Harry Potter and Ron Weasley, and she was being comforted by an unknown cloaked figure. If that wasn’t bad enough, they were in a dorm room she shared with four other girls. She knew she was asking to get caught; asking for trouble. She knew…but she didn’t care. She wouldn’t - couldn’t turn him away. It was selfish, she knew, but for those few hours he held her she felt cherished, protected, loved…
The thought made the lingering tears fall with reckless abandon; drowning herself in her own pity.
“shhhh…” he whispered, gently rubbing her hair as he laid a soft kiss on her cheek.
He treated her with the care of a newborn, his touch filled with rapturous awe as he cradled her through her tears.
She woke to the sun shining, the birds were singing, the sky was clear…it was shaping up to be another painful day at Hogwarts. There were dried tear trails running down her cheeks, and her eyes were puffy and swollen. But worst of all she was alone…completely and utterly alone.
Hermione’s days were all the same. Wake up, try to make it look like she hadn’t been crying half the night, go to breakfast; pretend she didn’t notice Ron and Harry wrapped around their significant others while she had no one. Go to class, go to lunch, ignore the aching emptiness some more, bury herself in homework, pretend to enjoy hanging out with her friends and their attachments. Go to sleep, wake up crying in his arms, really go to sleep, and start all over again. So her days went.
When the strange ritual had started, some days, weeks, months…ago, she didn’t know what to think. She was stiff and angry as she tried to get him out of her bed and out of her dorm…what if someone had seen?
But he wouldn’t budge. He never did anything but hold her and he never stayed. Sometimes he would whisper to her and a voice so soft, she could never place it; other times he just held her until she drifted away from the pain.
It was some time before she realized she was crying for him as much as the other. It was like he too, was mocking her. Offering her the very things she wanted, but only when no one could see.
Every morning she told herself that was the last time…no more nights letting him toy with her.
But every night her body betrayed her, she would wake up crying, certain she hadn’t been that way when she fell asleep. She would feel his arms and she would forget – more like ignore – the fact that he would leave her in the morning, ignore the fact that she was just a know-it-all bookworm with unmanageable hair, ignore that fact that this was just entertainment to him – whoever he was – and pretend that this was forever, that this was her life. A life of loving and being loved; a life of peace and comfort and protection. Then she would catch her thoughts and cry all the harder, because in reality...that life would never be her life.
It as on just such a night as his gliding through her hair, lulling her to sleep, did she ask the question she probably should have asked months ago, but couldn’t bring herself to hear the answer. “Why do you do it?” her voice was soft and melancholy, as she stared at the wall in front of her.
“Do what?” his voice was still whisper soft, but she could tell it had a cloaking charm over it. He didn’t want her to recognize him.
“Why do you come…do you like torturing me? Do you laugh at me when you leave? Poor, pathetic Hermione Granger, So put out because boys don’t like her, she’s willing to let herself be comforted by a complete stranger.” she said in a harsh whisper, words she could barely make herself contemplate by the light of day.
Had she been able to him, she would have seen the shock in his stormy eyes. But she couldn’t see him. All she could do was feel his arms tighten around her and hear his distorted voice whisper in her ear. “No. That’s not it at all... I come because I love you. I come because I see how sad you are underneath your strength, I watch you smile, as your heart breaks…but I know…I know you would never let me comfort you during the day…and so I wait until the night.”
She was speechless. He couldn’t be telling the truth, she would have seen him watching her. Wouldn’t she? “You can’t love me…you don’t even know me.” she whispered, though all the anger was gone, replaced by fear and an even more disconcerting emotion…hope.
“Oh, but I do…go to sleep Hermione.” he brushed a kiss across her temple, and held her as she thought
“I may have let you comfort me during the day.” She finally whispered back
“Go to sleep Hermione” he didn’t say anything else as he held her, until she finally drifted off to sleep.
The next morning she had hoped he would still be there; that they could talk. But he, of course, was gone.
She resigned herself to her routine once more, wishing that time would speed along she could talk to him again. But again she was bound to be disappointed. He came, he always came. But he didn’t speak. He comforted and cradled her until she finally succumbed to sleep.
The days ticked by with glaring regularity; until she convinced herself she had imagined the whole conversations. He had never had a conversation with her before and she sure couldn’t figure out a reason for him to have had one then. Just in case, she made certain to look around twice whenever she did something important; on the off chance that someone was watching.
It was a morning a week later that she found it. It had been a long night filled with self-pity. Harry and Ginny had announced their wedding plans. She knew it was coming, everyone knew it was coming. But knowing and living are two vastly different concepts.
He seemed to know too, for ten minutes after she drifted off she felt the bed dip and sway and his warm arms encircle her. She hadn’t even started to cry.
The sun shone through the drapes as it usually did; rousing Hermione from her dreams, but unlike you usual it caught and reflected off of something on her bed. Snapping her eyes open, she noted it wasn’t a person –like usual he was gone – but a rose. A rose made from lightly spun crystal. And a note. He had left her a note.
You aren’t ready yet, to love me in the light. But I’ll wait for you. I know you well enough to know I can love you longer than your tears, and kiss you through your pain.
There was no signature, but she hadn’t expected there to be. Nor did she expect the tears the welled up in her eyes as she re-read the note for the second – third – fourth time.
And so it started, though he always came, some of his visits were now marked with trinkets and notes.
There was a music box with a couple dancing, and he wrote that he knew one day that would be them dancing.
She had tried to write him letters back and he always took them, but never answered or if he did, he always said she wasn’t ready to love him. Well she begged to differ, but no matter how she tried to explain he was determined to have it his way. Though his letters more than made up for any stubborn qualities he had.
On particularly dreary and rainy day, after a particularly difficult potions class, he had given her a new bag that had a shield charm built into it; attached was a note that said: I know that I’ll protect you forever. In her opinion it was really perfect timing because she really needed a new bag. One of those slimy Slytherin’s had cursed her bad so that it shredded itself repeatedly, She suspected Malfoy involvement, as he was there with a group of others, but she couldn’t dwell on it long. Between trying to carry her books – and there were quite a few – to trying to keep Harry and Ron from hexing the whole lot of them, she had enough on her mind without out adding him to it. The Git. She briefly thought that maybe he was done there too and had seen it, but quickly threw that idea out; the only ones done there were Harry, Ron and herself along with the Slytherin’s. And she didn’t know a single Slytherin that would even be civil to her, much less try to comfort her.
But it didn’t matter. The only thing that mattered was that she had another whole day before he would come and hold her again. She lived for the night. Not that she let her school work fall, and she still spent a great deal of times with her friends, but he was the happiest when he was holding her.
She didn’t know when the crying had stopped; she just woke up one morning and realized she hadn’t had to hide her tears for quite a few days.
Another morning she woke up smiling and it lasted all the way through double history of magic, not even she could smile through that. And the next morning she woke up to find a scroll with a silver chain wrapped around it. Attached to the chain was the most beautiful locket she had ever seen. It wasn’t dripping in jewels as most jewelry was wont to do; it was a simple silver locket with an intricate star engraved into the front. After trying futilely to get it open, she clasped it around her neck and read the not that came with it.
I know that you are like the North Star…Never changing. Even when it hurts, and it seems like the world is against you…you always stay true to yourself. You don’t drift. You don’t dim. You don’t fade away. Constant and loyal to the end…
Summer was coming and with it the end of he school year…her last school year. But even then she couldn’t help feel a bit of joy. Joy that he had given her.
It was the morning after their last NEWT. Everyone had slept in and Hermione was no exception. So it was close to nine in the morning before she saw the little paper bird gliding in circles around her canopy.
Plucking him quickly from the sky, it dropped something on her lap but the letter was a longer one and she was too excited to read his words. She would get to the trinket later.
I know that you weren’t crying because Weasley didn’t pick you. You were crying because you couldn’t pick him, or any one else. You looked and looked hoping to find that special someone that would make everything okay, but really it’s when you stop looking and let love happen that it’s the strongest. Like that Diamond sitting in your lap, you and your love is the most precious, the rarest, and the strongest. And I am willing to spend everyday of my life showing you just how special you are and just how much I love you. So when you are ready, you can put that ring on your fourth finger and know that one of these days I will be able to love you in the light…