Chapter 1 : Bridging the gap
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--Deathly Hallows, chapter 10
He can’t sleep, so he watches her sleep instead.
Propped on his elbow, gazing at her soft profile by the glow of the dying embers in the fireplace, he can almost forget that Harry sleeps a few feet away, or that they’re lying on the cold, inhospitable floor of Grimmauld Place.
He watches her because, he realizes, he’s never really had the chance. She’s always slept in the girls’ dormitory, or in Ginny’s room. And he reckons there might be many more opportunities from this point on - but nothing is for certain anymore.
Biting back a laugh, he thinks that if their circumstances were any different - perhaps if she had simply dozed off in the Gryffindor common room with a massive book on her lap - he would have done something stupid like pinching her nose to wake her up, knowing it would be completely worth the earful of abuse he would receive for it.
But now he just watches: The rhythm of her breathing, the flutter of her eyelashes, the occasional agitated twitch of her fingertips.
He remembers a time he did find her asleep in the common room, slumped over a half-finished essay. There was a crease between her eyebrows, as though she dreamt of something that distressed her. He didn’t stop to watch her then - just shook her awake and suggested she go to bed.
He wonders now whether she has that same little crease between her eyebrows - he can‘t see very well from where he lies. And he wonders now - as he wondered back then - what sort of worries plague her in her sleep, when she already has too many while awake.
With a tiny snore, she shifts, and he lies hastily flat, prepared to pretend he’s asleep. But she doesn’t wake - only turns onto her side, her face half buried in her pillow, half obscured by frizzy curls.
He lifts his head - and there it is: her hand, resting on the floor, close enough to touch. She’s covered half the distance between them. With all his heart, he wants to bridge the gap and meet her halfway.
To hold her hand; not grab it in a panic or brush it by accident and mumble an excuse, but to hold it. To be in no hurry to let go.
But if she were to wake - well, how would he explain that?
His fingers hover inches from hers, and he lets his hand drop to the floor and rest as close as he dares.
Maybe there will be a time when she no longer has nightmares; when he no longer has sleepless nights; when he can touch her hand without uncertainty, and sleep next to her without Harry lying three feet away.
And finally, with that thought in his heart, he drifts into a reluctant sleep, his hand still reaching for its destination, like a man who has walked a thousand miles and can finally see his home.
A/N: As you can tell, this little drabble is a different take on what's implied in the book - that they fell asleep holding hands that night in Grimmauld Place. I got the idea and, since it was destined to be a very short fic in the first place, I decided to challenge myself by writing it for the "Every Word Counts" challenge, which meant it had to be exactly 500 words, no more, no less (excluding the quote and author's note). Let me know what you think!