Author's Note: To she who taught me to be content in solitude. There's not a ship here per se, it just...is. Read it any way you like.
They don't understand, Harry thinks. Even Ron is rolling his eyes at him, saying things like, "If you want to freeze yourself, that's your lookout," and Hermione just rolls her eyes and goes back into her book.
It makes the need worse. No one else is flying today...it's cold and raining, and the two combine to make normal people shiver inside their cloaks and hurry inside. Harry takes his broom out to the Quidditch pitch, casts a warming charm on himself just long enough that he can mount the broom without his teeth chattering, and kicks off.
Hogwarts looks particularly grey today. Grey stone, grey smoke, and even the grass around it and the trees seem to have all the color leeched out by the sky and the rain. But he is flying, and he is free, and in the concentration of manuevering his broom, pushing his personal envelope, he can forget. There is only the sky and the ground and the broom obedient under him, and the zen of shifting your weight and grip just so to make it happen.
When he lands he is soaked and chilled, and at peace again.
They don't understand, Ron thinks. Harry's a nutter, flying in this weather. It's made for playing chess beside the fire. Ron loves chess. It's not so much a matter of skill...though he's been playing a long time, it's something deeper. He could be working on his Transfiguration essay, but that kind of thought is as difficult as seeing a mile in the grey mist outside. This isn't easier...only something he understands. He looks across the board and closes his eyes and for a moment he looks older than his seventeen years, as his mind looks at possibilities and potentialities.
The room is warm and close, the red hangings and leather chairs seeming to glow in the firelight. There are others in the room, reading and talking, but Ron doesn't hear them. There is a moment in which he is still, at peace with himself and his family and his friends and the knowledge that they're all pawns in this war. His hand reaches out and moves a rook. He is playing himself, and so it is himself he duels with in silence, feints and strategies and a moment when Ron has to decide which side wins.
Black may be easier, but Ron prefers white.
They don't understand, Hermione thinks. Harry looks at her and doesn't quite roll his eyes because she's talking to him with one finger holding her place in yet another book, and her eyes drop to it when he stops talking. Flying in this weather...what an idiot. Ron didn't even ask her to take the other side of the board. He's over by the fire, golden glints lit in his hair by the dancing flames, and frowning at the board. He looks like Bill when he does that. The weight of the book in her hand recalls her attention. Her hands open it with love, and her eyes widen as she begins to read and the room drops away.
It has always been this way, that she flies not on a broom but on words and on learning. She can almost see it, sometimes, see the structure below the everyday, she can intuit it and they look at her with respect and fear and no one dares to touch her. And so she goes back into the books where all they ask of you is to read them. There is peace in the world of knowledge. No war brewing, no conflicts but those bloodless ones of ideas, and the strange peace there is in a measured discussion of truth. It is black and white here. Simple. Clear.
When she finishes her book, she looks either a little drunk or a little kissed, and she goes upstairs to wash her face and return, at peace, to the reality that is as grey as the sky outside.
They don't understand, Harry thinks. They're the only ones left here in the common room, and it's late. He finds his hand aches. It's formed a fist all on its own, and he consciously relaxes it. Ron is saying something to Hermione as they look at the paper together, and she smiles for him alone. The connection between the two of them is like a fire, and Harry finds that he is suddenly alone, and cold.
They don't understand, Ron thinks. Harry and Hermione have papers spread out and she is explaining something. She's lovely with passion in her eyes, her hair loose, and Harry's eyes are alight too as it clicks, and produces more questions. He scribbles something on his parchment, and she pulls it to her, correcting the equation, and then smiling like the sun when he does one right on his own. They work together so well... and suddenly Ron feels very stupid, and alone. After all, he's not taking Gematria. He would have nothing to say.
They don't understand, Hermione thinks. They touch like brothers, the two of them, casual brushes that neither would trust anyone else to do, questions asked and answered in the blink of an eye, and she sees it. Harry finishes reading the Daily Prophet, exhales, and pushes his plate away. It's Ron who reaches out to the fruit bowl and palms two apples for later, when his appetite will have returned, tucking them into his bag. He sleeps sometimes in Ron's bed, and no one says anything. Dean had stared Seamus down when he began to mention it. "If it makes him sleep better, we all sleep better. I don't fancy getting waked up by nightmares every bloody night. Get your mind out of the gutter, Finnegan, they're mates."
She wishes that she could be a mate like that. And then wonders which one she'd choose.