Containing Light in the Darkness
    Defining the Dots Series, Part V
    by vanillaparchment
Dots IV
Dots VI
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“You don't mind, do you, if I stay out here alone?” Harry asked abruptly of the crowd of
shadowy faces.

Somberly, they all nodded and proceeded toward Shell Cottage, towards the lights and warmth.
Harry raised a hand, swiping at the tears threatening to break past his squinted eyes.

He blinked rapidly as he realized some of the dirt and sweat from his fingers had been trapped
in his eyes. Water streamed from his eyes as he rubbed furiously, and it was then he heard a
noise behind him.

Still rubbing at his eyes, Harry swiveled around, and realized that a hand had very nearly
caught his arm. As his vision cleared, he could see a rather small figure slowly struggling to get
back up from the ground.

“Hermione!” Her name left his lips instantly; he reached down and caught her arms, helping her
up. “Hermione, you should be inside.”

She raised her eyes to him, and wavering moonlight washed over her face. He cringed slightly,
seeing the pallor of her cheeks and over-brightness of her eyes.

The tip of her tongue slipped out of her mouth, and she took a deep breath, dry and raspy,
before uttering a hoarse whisper.

“Dobby saved my life, too. Besides, I had to-- I had to see if you were--”

He felt her sway slightly, and he placed an arm around her waist.

“Hermione, I'm serious.” he spoke anxiously, as her shallow breathing reached almost a
wheeze. “You're not well.”

She shook her head, obviously unable to speak, and he felt her hand creep over to grasp the
hand holding her waist. She tilted her chin back, her eyes soft with pleading. He sighed.

“You were incredible.” he said finally, offering a forced smile. “Coming up with that story while
you were-- with Lestrange.”

She managed a feeble smile in return. Her hand tightened around his lightly.

“I'm sorry.”

She made a face, and he smiled grimly.

“It's a reflex, Hermione, you know that. It may not be my fault, but I feel responsible anyway.”

Again, her hand flexed around his. Her eyes searched his face as she attempted to speak. All she
managed was a soft, “I didn't want you to take-- that kind of responsibility.”

He grinned reluctantly, and her eyes softened in warmth.

“That's the only kind I've taken.” he said lightly, keenly aware that this was the closest they had
been since Ron's return to their trio. “Let's get you inside. Don't look at me that way; I'm coming

He hesitated.

“Maybe I should carry you.” he suggested tentatively, watching her face intently.

She looked startled at the offer, but then her eyes moved to his face, and a pleasant, soft glow
entered her brown eyes, like a new candle set in a familiar candleholder.

She nodded her assent, and Harry lifted her into his arms, marveling at how light she felt in his

Her arms slipped around his neck, and in the darkness he could feel her relax slightly, and he
was glad. Maybe he was glad that she trusted him, or perhaps more that she felt comfortable in
his arms.

“Harry, take her into the back room.” Bill appeared in the doorway. He directed Harry back into
a small guest room containing a small bed.

The sheets were already rumpled, and feeling self-conscious but rather responsible, Harry lay
Hermione gently down on the bunk.

As he carefully adjusted the pillow under her head, his mind wandered back to the day when
she had pulled the Horcrux off of his chest. He couldn't help but feel like this was his turn.

And he felt ridiculously inadequate.

He pulled the covers up over her, feeling the clumsiest he'd ever felt, and then sat softly on the
edge of the bed.

He surveyed her silently for a moment, and she gazed quietly back. He reached down and
cautiously trailed his fingers across her cheek.

A soft smile curved her lower lip, lifting her cheek into a slight dimple as she closed her eyes.

“Erm... g'night, then.” he said quietly, utterly transfixed on her face and embarrassingly aware of

She opened her eyes briefly, raising a hand and sweeping it down the side of his face. Her
expression (for there was no mistaking it now) was so tender Harry felt a hard lump jam in his

Was it possible that he could evoke such a lovely glow about her?

“Harry.” she murmured simply. As her eyes closed, Harry could see her slip off into sleep, but
not with difficulty as had so often been the case these past few months.

No, she went to sleep as he supposed girls should: leaving the world behind for warm dream
castles and all the other things normal girls would hope for.

Someday he'd ask her about dreams; someday he'd try to return the tender glances and sweet

But tonight he'd let her sleep.

Nights shouldn't always have to end with darkness, after all. Harry took one last look at her
face, his heart pleasantly warm, and slipped out of the room.

And for him, well, night always contained a couple of stars.
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