The frigid air nipped insistently at her throat. She stretched her stiff limbs slightly, clasping the
thin blanket tighter around her torso, rubbing the fleece against her cold cheek in an attempt to
coax warmth back into them.

Her eyes felt as though they'd been glued shut with sticky `sleep'. She dropped the blanket and
ran a finger along the bottom of her eyelids, realizing that she must have been crying in her
sleep.

Again.

The plastic mattress squeaked beneath her as she swung her legs over the bunk bed, blinking
hastily in the dim light creeping in through the tent flap. She let the blanket fall to the mattress
and rubbed her upper arms, staring blankly at the crack in the tent flap.

Slowly, reluctantly, she dropped her bare feet to the floor and got up, crossing the tent space
and moving towards the tent bathroom. She opened the door and shuffled into the dismally
white space, gripping the cold faucet handle and letting icy water stream into the sink.

She ignored the smudged mirror above the sink, choosing instead to turn away from it as she
scrubbed her face with rather frozen fingers. There wasn't much to behold there, she'd learned a
couple months ago. No, it would be better to focus elsewhere.

Eyes still shut, she reached out and took the little towel from the bar in front of her. She rubbed
her face dry, shook her hair away from her face, and opened her eyes. Hermione made a small
noise at the back of her throat as her skin readjusted to being dry.

If she wasn't careful, her eyes would forget what it felt like to be dry, too.

She lifted a hand and wrestled her hair into the single hair band she had left, knowing by the
way that her curls snared onto her fingers that there was no use attempting to brush it. Who
would know what it looked like, anyway? She wouldn't, and Harry certainly wouldn't pay
attention.

Ron wouldn't have, either.

Her hands dropped her sides, angry at herself for letting the thought flit across her mind.

Ron is not your world, she reminded herself furiously, Ron is not your definition. Focus on
what needs to be done; on what you and Harry have to do, with or without him.

Almost immediately, her hand jerked up to the side of her jawbone. As her fingers brushed it,
the skin there tingled as if in memory of the slight, brief pressure of a kiss.

Stop.

Her thoughts acted like a telegram, Hermione thought dryly, dropping her hand and
determinedly ignoring the fast, fluttery beat of her heart. Her thoughts traveled in stiff,
unfeeling sentences that stopped the moment a trace of emotion dared to enter them.

She pushed the door open and stepped back out into the tent. Her eyes surveyed the messy
space, then landed on the tent flap.

She took a deep breath, then ducked out the tent flap into the feeble morning light.

He was hugging his knees and watching the sun struggle to reach the horizon in between the
trees. His glasses were sliding down toward the end of his nose. The black frames made a sharp
contrast to his pale skin, almost like ink on paper. She stood there silently for a moment, before
she sank to the ground beside him, joining him in watching the sunrise.

A ray of peach-colored sunlight finally struck his face, and he squinted, looking away. As he
did, his eyes swung over to stop on her face.

She caught her breath as his green eyes narrowed as he focused onto her eyes.

She had grown used to having her gaze avoided, she realized. It was rather a shock to suddenly
have someone looking straight at you, like a sudden spotlight had lit up your unimportant
corner of the stage.

A moment later, he cleared his throat awkwardly and said, “Sorry. I didn't realize you were
there.”

She nodded mutely, reaching up and tucking a curl of hair behind her ear.

He inclined his head, rocking back and forth slightly, reminding her of how young he was. Or
should be.

Might have been?

He'd assumed responsibility for stopping Voldemort as a baby and hadn't stopped assuming it
since. Accepting responsibility for things both good and bad, for things he could change and
things he couldn't help.

And it had been-- was-- her responsibility to stop him from taking the bad on his shoulders.

He had stopped rocking now, and he was picking at the frozen soil with his fingers. She
watched his strong fingers scrabbled at the dirt, trapping earth under his chipped fingernails.

After a pause, he looked up, and again his eyes fixed on her face. She shifted, looking away.

The silence between them suddenly slapped her in the face as she remembered the night before,
when he'd apologized, wept...

It took her a moment for her to realize that her fingers were once again pressed against her jaw.
Hastily, she dropped her hand.

He was rolling a pebble in between his fingers, staring at it intently. His brows were weighing
heavily on his eyes, but not in a frown. Just in thought.

She stared out into the woods, biting her lip and tasting the frosty air on her suddenly dry
tongue.

The pebble tumbled to the ground, and suddenly, Harry had swiveled around and faced her.
She blinked and nearly jumped back.

“It wasn't your fault, you know. Him leaving.” He was staring at her keenly, his chin cocked.
She parted her lips, astonished that he had spoken to her, let alone brought up Ron in her
presence.

After a silence, Harry continued doggedly, “That's what you've been crying about, isn't it?”

She attempted to form a coherent `no', but failed.

He licked his lips and hung his head, looking embarrassed but determined.

“Because it's not.” he said in the most earnest tone of voice she'd heard him use all year. “You
didn't do anything.”

He pressed the pebble into the soil with a fist.

Warmth rushed through her body in a way she was unused to, and she suddenly found herself
trembling. He looked up again.

“I... I owe you a lot. For staying.” his voice cracked, and he winced. He fell silent, then rushed
on, “I know you'd-- rather be with him, and everything, but still...”

He cleared his throat again.

“Thanks, Hermione.” he said finally, looking at her directly. “You're... very sweet.”

The last words slipped out awkwardly but sincerely, releasing a blush into her cheeks.

It was astounding how the most treasured words, most encouraging sentences, could come at a
time when she felt the least herself.

“Thank you.” A whisper was all that she could manage, but it was enough.

And for the moment, `enough' could still fill in the silences.
Filling in the Silence
    Defining the Dots Series, Part II
    by vanillaparchment
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