SIYE Time:19:20 on 2nd December 2023

Like Circles on Water
By GreenhouseThree

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Category: Post-DH/AB
Characters:Harry/Ginny, Hermione Granger
Genres: Angst, General
Warnings: Mild Language
Story is Complete
Rating: PG
Reviews: 5
Summary: ‘I was possessed once,’ he explains, squinting as though to better glimpse the memory.
A conversation between two friends.

Hitcount: Story Total: 1143
Awards: View Trophy Room

Disclaimer: Harry Potter Publishing Rights ? J.K.R. Note the opinions in this story are my own and in no way represent the owners of this site. This story subject to copyright law under transformative use. No compensation is made for this work.

Author's Notes:
This is set sometime after "Coming Up for Air," but they can each stand alone. The title comes from Wendell Berry’s short poem “I Go Among Trees,” which has always guided my thoughts on Harry through the first weeks after the Deathly Hallows.


A gentle breeze chills the air, and Hermione tucks her fingers into the extra length of Ron’s jumper sleeves to grip her book. The early May sun is indecisive, slinking behind clouds before sputtering back into view with weak, diffuse rays that warm her face. It’s not quite comfortable enough to enjoy the weather yet, but she’s determined to savor the few minutes of stillness and solitude she’s found on the porch swing.

Each day since returning to the ransacked house has been burdened by the impossible; every task- righting overturned chairs, arranging a burial, fixing breakfast- is equally overwhelming. The Burrow feels simultaneously desolate and suffocating.

And so, the privacy feels like a rare stroke of serendipity… until it’s broken by Harry, who slips out the back door with a mug of tea and settles into the chair across from her with a nod. His hair is damp and he’s wearing a clean jumper they’d left behind last summer that, judging by its size, was handed down by his cousin. Hermione returns her gaze to the page, primarily to avoid scaring him off with any attention to the fact that he’s risen and showered before lunchtime. Instead, she prepares to share amicable silence, the kind that Harry’s never been one to fill too hastily.

“Can I ask you something?”

Glancing up in surprise, she finds his gaze steady, intense. He looks exhausted. She nods.

“Remember over Christmas, after we left Godric’s Hollow?”

She feels herself tense automatically, throat clenching. She wonders briefly if this is why he woke early. “Of course,” she breathes weakly.

He frowns, staring into his cup. “You said I was ill afterward,” he says slowly. “Before you cut the locket off.”

Hermione tries to push away the images that immediately bloom in her mind: the maniacal faces that were not his, twisting his features… the raging fever… her fear that at any moment, it might lash out at her…


“Do you think I was possessed?” he asks softly.

She studies her best friend. There’s no trace, now, of that terrifying evil she saw there once, only his kind, earnest eyes. “I-I’m not sure,” she says quietly, unsure whether or not to continue. “Why?”

He clears his throat roughly. “I was possessed once,” he explains, squinting as though to better glimpse the memory. “At the Ministry, after we’d been in the Department of Mysteries-” he falters, and Hermione guesses that he too realizes he’s speaking about the night of Sirius’ death. He hunches over, resting his elbows on his knees. “But this, it just… it felt different than that. I remembered things I never should have known… it felt more like when my scar hurt and I could see what he was thinking, only…” he trails off. His frown deepens.

Despite herself, Hermione presses him. “Only what?”

“Only there’s no way I was reading his thoughts. It was too vivid, like I was tapping into his memories. Like a Pensieve.”

She nods. She’s suspected as much, from the few details he gave in the tent. “I don’t think you were possessed, exactly. I did a bit of reading…”

He looks up, hopeful, and her heart sinks. “Not that much reading, though. You have to understand, Harry, this whole situation was… very unique. I had to extrapolate from the information that was out there. But it seems like Horcruxes-” she lowers her voice at the word-“ have been reported to interact with one another. The most I’ve ever read about was someone creating two or three, and even those were vile and extreme situations. So, with seven…” she sighs. “Soul fragments are just really volatile.”

Harry looks at her in alarm, a flicker of betrayal crossing his face. “Did you know, then? About me?”

Her breath catches in her throat. It’s hung, unspoken, over the three of them since returning home, and her insides twist as he finally gives voice to it. She shakes her head. “It never even crossed my mind as a possibility. I just figured that you were caught in the crossfire between Nagini and the locket, that you’d been cursed or something… honestly, I didn’t know what to think. It all makes more sense now, I suppose.”

He’s quiet for a long time, staring pensively at the sun-weathered wood beneath their feet. He picks at a stray thread on his sleeve.

“I can’t believe you stayed with me,” he finally murmurs.

Hermione swallows thickly. A moment passes before she can trust her voice. “I would never have left you, Harry.”

He looks at her miserably, and she braces herself to talk him down from whatever’s coming. “You and Ginny nearly died, remember? And that ring almost killed Dumbledore. I could have-” he shakes his head. “All those years, I was no better than that fucking diary.”

She leans forward, grabbing his forearm urgently. “Harry, you never hurt anyone. You’ve always been yourself. It was a separate thing, and now it’s gone.”

“What makes you think it was separate?” he asks sharply. “How am I even supposed to know who I am, Hermione? What parts were just him all along?”

His words strike a chord, deeper than before, and she draws back. For a moment she catches a devastating glimpse of the boy she met on the train in the same oversized clothes- the same boy who bravely took a potion from her hand and disappeared through a curtain of black flame, with no knowledge of what lay ahead. She opens her mouth before closing it again, realizing with a sharp ache that somehow, they’re both still just eleven-year-old kids.

“I just know.”

Harry’s eyes fall closed. Hermione closes her book and sets it down, watching as his mouth forms a thin line.
“I don’t know how to tell her,” he whispers helplessly.

She’s not quick enough to conceal the grin that steals across her face; when he opens his eyes, he immediately shoots her an irritated look. “Don’t.”

She rests her head against the high back of the swing. “I’m not.”

He sighs and shakes his head, closing his eyes again. Hermione thinks of Ginny’s haunted, broken smile; of Harry’s anguish as he watches her grieve for her brother; of the stolen glances and touches Hermione’s spotted. It’s a tender, fragile thing, and she recognizes the weight behind his fear: that after everything Ginny’s forgiven, this could be too much.

“It isn’t going to change how she feels, Harry.”

“You don’t know that,” he growls. “Vol- he’s always been Tom to her.”

“I know. But she’s just glad you’re safe, same as you.”

He nods absently. His eyes drop to his hands again. “I just don’t want to muck this up again,” he says, so quietly she isn’t sure whether it’s meant for her. “I’ve messed her around enough.”

This time, Hermione doesn’t hide her grin when he looks up. He can be shirty about it later.

He rolls his eyes. “Shut up.” But his lip twitches.

She arches her brow. “Okay.”

It settles between them, then- that easy silence that has grown so practiced and comfortable through the years that she hardly notices it. Harry’s gaze travels across the pond and through the orchard to the hills beyond, unseeing any of it as his thoughts wage wars behind his eyes. Hermione watches the breeze ripple through his hair, while unseen songbirds perform their morning chorus.

Without speaking, he stands and slumps onto the swing beside her. The chains suspending them creak as they gently sway back and forth.
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