In the days they'd been practicing and adjusting their plans, Rasa and Harry had gotten quite closer. Hermione even seemed to be aiding this, purposely seeming to leave the two alone for frequent long periods of time and even prodding them towards each other when she was with them. Like especially when Rasa would be attempting to make contact with his chakra, unsuccessfully for some reason, Hermione would send Harry over to try to relax him or learn meditation.
On the eve of the time they were to depart for Godric's Hollow, Hermione had gone off by herself, also adding that she was going to leave another item with flesh memories for Ron, just in case he came to that area and missed them. That left Rasa and Harry with each other once again.
Harry looked like she was brooding, sitting on the steps that led to the bedding area with a morose air. She sniffled once and wiped her eyes, but she didn't make another indication that she was going to cry. Rasa frowned and was about to say something, when a song came onto the radio and he closed his mouth, gears turning in his head with an idea. Stopping right in front of her, he reached around her neck and unhooked the cursed necklace, placing it by the radio.
She looked up at him, a hint of tears in her eyes but refusing to fall. He held out a hand and she tentatively grabbed it, curious as to what he was planning. He gently tugged her up to him and kept a hold on both hands. Feeling rather silly, he held onto that feeling and let himself act like a fool (how long has it been since he's allowed himself to do such a thing?), swinging their arms around and twirling her around, mildly heading into odd leaps as part of the dance. The silliness slowed down and he held her hands and led them to his waist, letting her wrap them around him like a hug. He reciprocated and wrapped his own arms around her waist, and they danced slowly in an embrace for awhile.
Hesitantly, he brushed his lips against her forehead and she instinctively leaned forward. His arms squeezed around her tighter and he felt her lips shyly kiss his neck. He pulled back slightly and looked at her seriously.
"You know…I'm a grown man, Harri. Do you know what you're asking, what you want?" he murmured, burying his face into her hair and feeling her mimic that action to his neck, both of them still holding tightly to each other as they slow-danced in the middle of the tent.
His words were loaded and unclear in meaning, because there was a lot of ways to take them and a lot of questions that were attached.
"And I'm a seventeen year old girl who has to win this war or die trying," she murmured back, and he didn't like it one bit.
Where he was from, there was a lot of war and even children got caught up in it. He understood that and he knew they knew what they were getting into once they became shinobi, or they should. But that kind of thing had no place with Harry and he didn't ever want to see her hurt or think about the idea of her dying. His attachment to her, so quick and heady (almost blinding), made him balk at such a thought.
"How strange how fast I've grown so attached to you," he nuzzled her ear lightly, trailing his lips across her cheeks, down her nose, above her upper lip teasingly, and flutteringly on her closed eyelids. She responded by squeezing him a little tighter to her, tilting her head up and leaning up against him, almost offering herself up. She echoed him by trailing her lips across his jaw, rubbing her nose affectionately at his bared neck (which he'd done when she trailed her lips at his jaw), and surprising him with a soft press of her lips to his own that was quick and nearly made him think he'd imagined it.
"No one's ever admitted something like that to me," she hid her face into his shoulder.
"Then let me be the only one," and then he made his decision, lowering his face to hers and kissing her firmly.
The song drifted off to quiet and she apprehensively led him to her bed and lay down, him following after, and letting him hold her there as they shared the cot.
There was still a lot of things to be worried about, but they were rather trivial in the face of this war he had been dragged into and that this girl was expected to win or else. If things were normal, he would have been troubled by the very words he'd said. He was a grown man, and she was still just a girl barely about to exit her teenage years. But that could easily be countered by the fact that she'd already suffered and experienced so much.
But also as a grown man, he had a lot more experience than her. While maybe not in war, but in relationships and in life…he had already been married and had three kids already, all three whom were only slightly younger than Harry herself. He'd had sex with many people and was knowledgeable in how to pleasure someone, when it was clear that she had little to none knowledge about that –if her hesitancy and questioning looks were anything to go by during their affectionate touches while dancing. Questioning what he was doing or if what she was doing was okay…
So he had been right to ask her if she knew what she wanted out of him. Anyone else he couldn't care less about taking advantage of, but not Harry…for some reason, never her…There were a lot of things he meant from that, one of which was wondering if that was the kind of comfort she wanted or needed from him. Did she want someone to comfort and show her affection? Did she want the physical touches, maybe even going beyond and treacherously into sexual?
What exactly did his little emerald want from him? And with that shy kiss to his neck, did she know what she was asking? Was she asking anything he'd just thought of from him? Or was she just trying to copy him or get a pleased reaction from him?
After all, as he stated, he was a grown man and that kind of action brought up a specific reaction and a specific assumption of what the other party wanted. Did she fully realize what that kiss would mean to him?
Really, what was the purpose of his presence in this world…?
Again, there was also how fast this seemed to be moving. But something was pulling him to her, something that kept telling him that she was utterly his. But just as equally, there was an insistent whisper in his ear that said he was just as much hers…
It was too late to turn back now, and he had no real inclination to. And those were the thoughts that plagued him as he fell into sleep with Harry in his arms.
When Hermione finally came back, hurriedly rubbing her hand across her sore eyes –because she never wanted Harry to see her crying, on top of everything else piling on the poor girl –, she noticed the couch where their 'guest' usually slept was empty. Her eyes trailed to the sleeping area and saw the man cozily wrapped around her best friend, both of them lying together in one bed. She almost frowned in disapproval at how inappropriate and improper that scene would be, only she couldn't really summon any real unhappiness at it.
The fact was, Harry deserved what little comfort she could get, especially since she never really had been given any before. And strangely this man seemed to be fine giving that and more.
She rolled her eyes, getting ready for bed herself.
"One red-head runs out on us, and then we pick up another red-head the next day to replace the old one. Haha."
The next morning, they were ready to head out. Everything got packed up and Hermione didn't mention the two's new sleeping arrangement and they didn't bring it up. Hermione held Harry's hand and she held Rasa's, and then the three of them apparated to Godric's Hollow.
Rasa resisted the urge to hurl, finding that the most despicable way to travel.
"What the hell was that? That's a horrible way to get to places!"
"But it's instantaneous," Harry grinned at him.
"It's probably worse for you because you're a Muggle," 'No, he most certainly was not,' "and for most Side-Along apparations, it's worse than actually doing the apparating," Hermione lectured.
He hated lectures. Always had, always will –even when he was lecturing.
"Right, right. We should split up to find out whatever we can," Harry directed them back to task.
"Rasa should stay with you since he's unfamiliar with our world. And it should be you because he seems to be more comfortable with you and he seems to like you more," Hermione's mischievous tone near the end was only barely subdued.
Rasa scowled at her and Harry blushed a bright red, but she only smiled brightly at them.
"See you two soon! We'll meet back at this church, alright?"
And then it was just Rasa and Harry again.
"I still wish we could have gone in some kind of disguise. Maybe that Polyjuice Potion you two were talking about," Rasa frowned.
She wrapped her arms around herself.
"No, this is where I was born. I'm not returning as someone else," she looked away from him.
He sighed, but he gave her an affectionate smile –surprised at himself as he did so.
"You're so sentimental," but he took her hand and grasped it tightly, brushing his lips against her knuckles.
She shrugged and looked at him apologetically.
"Sorry. I guess I can't think all militaristically like you. I suppose I'm just naïve."
He shook his head and drew her closer, maneuvering her to be more in his arms and subtly moving one of his arms to be within her arms' reach, glad when she grasped onto it as he'd wanted her to.
"I'd rather you'd stay like that. It's refreshing and I would always hope that you keep believing in something brighter, and not become all cynical like me –despite all that you have gone through."
She gave a happy smile and he gave her a quick squeeze comfortingly.
Harry's eyes drifted to the cemetery and he noticed.
"You think my mum and dad might be in there?" she asked him softly.
"I think your kaa-san and tou-san have a very good chance of being in there," he reassured her and she looked back at him curiously at the language change, though she figured out the meaning of them right then.
He shrugged at her. "I am just more used to saying it."
She nodded and he directed her back to the cemetery.
"We should go look."
She winced. "We're supposed to be here for any clues about the Horcruxes or the Sword. We really should be focusing on that."
"Don't kid us. Hermi-Hermiie," he winced as well. "Your friend and I know that part of the reason for coming was for you, and we understand. So let's go."
"'Mione. Just call her that. It might be easier," but Harry was no longer hesitant and refusing to go, so he led the way there, still holding onto her.
Once there, she let go of him and wandered off, while he stayed behind a little and allowed her to have some time to herself. He gazed around the small cemetery, taking note of everything. Something he saw might be important and he wanted to be aware of his surroundings, especially of the exits and anything that looked suspicious.
In fact, his eyes did catch something. On a grave…was a familiar symbol…one that Harry's friend repeatedly focused on in the past days. He went over to it and wiped the snow off the symbol more and confirmed it was the exact one. Underneath was a name and he wiped the snow off of it as well, reading the name and remembering to bring Harry here to say it, or at least remember what it looked like so he could write it down later.
"Harri," he called out. When there was no answer, he looked quickly to look for her, only to see her gazing quietly at a gravestone, stiff and solemn. He could only see her back, but he could clearly tell that she was aggrieved and close to being overwhelmed. Heading over to her, he took her into his arms' again and placed his chin on her shoulder to gaze over it at the gravestone.
James and Lily Potter
The last enemy that shall be destroyed is death.
"An insightful quote, but gives you no comfort," Rasa murmured.
Still, deep inside of him, that quote gave him a chill that resonated within his bones. Something about it bode a warning for him and made him uneasy, and he didn't want to acknowledge it foreshadowing at all. If he looked deeper, he could probably take apart the quote, but just those feelings made him wary and shy from doing so –lest he uncover a meaning he didn't like.
Plus, while a very wise and suiting quote for events and circumstances, it does nothing for a young girl grieving for her parents.
Taking out a kunai from his pouch, glad it had survived the 'world travel' and come with him, he started scratching out words underneath it. Carefully carving the words, he finished quickly and stepped back into place beside her and once again held her, observing his work critically. The girl beside him was very silent and he was starting to get worried she'd disapproved.
"You spelled my name wrong," and he turned to her to see her lips twitching upwards, a soft look in her eyes as she gazed at the new inscription on the marker.
"Ah, gomen. I forgot that though that's how I say it, it is not the correct way to pronounce your name," he embarrassedly scratched the back of his head.
He moved to go back and change it, but she held him back, shaking her head.
"No, it's alright…I think I prefer it this way," she gave him a soft smile that matched the soft look in her eyes, and he felt a strange warmth enter him at her response and the look.
Two brave parents who loved their Harri enough to die for her.
Looking back at the words he carved though, he remembered again his own failures as a parent. The more he looked at it, the more he remembered how horrible a father he was.
But just when he was about to spiral into darker thoughts and stew in them, soft lips pressed against his cheek thankfully, startling him out of his thoughts and looking down to look into grateful emerald eyes.
He turned to her fully, holding onto her closely and seeking his own silent comfort from her, thinking that he was just as grateful to have her and be with her.
Afterwards, he grabbed her hand and they walked out of the cemetery quietly, with him quickly showing the grave he found earlier. Then, as a cheery pick-me up, they searched out a place to eat at and hope they could find some locals who might be able to tell them where Bathilda Bagshot lived at, though Rasa insisted she wear a hat to hide her scar. Harry, herself, wasn't quite sure how well-known her current looks were, especially around there, so they tried to play it as safe as they could.
Going inside an opened tavern, they were surprised and happy to find it cozily warm. Finding some seats, Rasa wasn't quite sure what to order, but she ordered for him and he was more than satisfied with the taste of warm apple pie and butterbeer.
The butterbeer was surprisingly warm and slid easily down his throat, and he licked his lips after, still tasting the sweet drink. The apple pie melted in his mouth and he could taste a hint of cinnamon in it.
"You look like you're enjoying yourself," Harry commented, her lips once again twitching upwards.
"The food and drink…and the company are very enjoyable and…delicious. It's been a long time since I've indulged myself," he let himself give her a full smile, restraining from turning it into a smirk when he saw her turn bright red at his words overall and partly for the secondary innuendo he couldn't resist tossing in.
Still, he'd probably compliment her and tease her more, just to get her used to it and stop being so embarrassed to receive them all the time. She was much too modest, though he liked that about her.
They finished up in there, after Harry surprisingly retaliated by feeding him and trying to make him embarrassed. But he countered that by embracing the act full-heartedly, eating from her with a huge gusto and finally letting himself smirk. He also returned it by feeding her back.
Outside, they trailed the town quietly, holding hands as they looked around. Nothing had come up, and any subtle inquiries, with Rasa mainly asking since no one would know of him, was easily rebuffed by the Christmas cheer around the town.
"It is Christmas Eve, isn't it?" Harry murmured, looking up at the darkened sky with softly falling snow landing around and on them.
"I suppose so. It must be a holiday not celebrated where I am from," Rasa responded solemnly, seeing her mood turn somber.
"Christmas is supposed to be a time for family and friends…and here we are, on the run, ragged, and terrified. Busy and weary about a war that's counting on us to win it," she sighed in aggravation.
"Next Christmas will be spectacular then," Rasa declared.
Harry looked at him in disbelief, before a wide smile spread across her face and she grabbed onto his arm fully and laid her head on it, letting him guide their walk.
Off to the side of the edge of town, near some trees, there was a large expanse of just snow and nothing else. Harry's eyes lit up at this and she let go of his arm to run forward and twirl herself around in the open space in carefree abandon, face turned upwards to receive the still coming snow and arms thrown out. He watched in amusement, before he was suddenly dragged by her to join in. And then they were running around and twirling and whirling in silliness, grinning wildly as they danced around in the snow. Even when they grabbed hold of each other's arms and spun, rotating fast and becoming dizzy with each spin and then letting go, they were still giddily eager to run about.
Though him falling back ungracefully and her stumbling around before face planting into the snow after the crazy spinning wasn't so much.
Then she had a mischievous grin on her face that told him she was up to something. Before he could figure out what or why, he was dealing with the how –with her throwing a snowball into his face. He blinked as the snow slowly fell off his face, realizing that she'd just thrown a snowball at him.
"This…is war, you know?" he told her seriously.
And then he started attacking her mercilessly, hearing her squealing as she tried fruitlessly to run away.
"No fair! You're good and experienced at all this!"
That was answered with a snowball to the face, answering for her first snowball.
After, they flopped tiredly to the ground next to each other and just relaxed. It was, he thought, one of the most happiest moments he'd experienced in his life. Even if he acted completely unlike himself and his usual reserved attitude, it seemed worth it and just special to be spending this time with Harry.
"We should get back soon. Maybe Hermione found something, or actually doing something other than fooling around like we have," Harry snickered.
But then she started moving her arms and legs up and down.
"What are you doing?" he raised an eyebrow, barely lifting his head to face her.
"Making a snow angel."
He shrugged lightly and then he just started to copy her, hesitantly at first before just going with it. When they were done, they carefully got up and saw two snow angels nicely made into the snow ground, though one was really good and the other sort of messy.
Harry pouted. "Are you good at like everything?"
"…I try to make sure to be," he smirked.
When they got to the church and cemetery again, leaving a reminder of their presence there in the form of a snowman they made together, they saw Hermione sitting at the front of the steps of the church, reading.
Harry scowled when she saw what book it was.
"Where'd you pick up the copy of that book from?" Harry glared at it.
"I found it at your place…at Potter Cottage, in the first floor. I didn't wander around much, just at the entrance. I thought it was best to wait for you guys, especially since it's your…home, Harry," Hermione told her, smiling encouragingly.
"So someone's been there recently," Rasa noted.
Hermione blinked, but nodded, realizing that.
"Yeah, that book's new. There's no other reason for it to be there than that," Harry agreed.
"Where've you two been?" Hermione grinned slyly.
Harry turned pink and wasn't going to dignify it with a response, but Rasa had other ideas.
"Around the town…" Rasa replied stoically. "Together," he added with a roguish smile and sharing a grin with the brunette at Harry's expense.
Well, the two of them finally found common ground…even if it meant it was her.
There was rustling to their side and they all tensed, turning to see an old woman watching them eerily.
"Harry, Rasa…she's been watching us," Hermione whispered.
Rasa frowned, slipping a hand into his weapons pouch and fingering a kunai. Taking it out, he held it surely in his hand and holding it by his side. The two girls saw him and unsurely copied his action, with their wands instead.
The woman gestured them to follow her before turning and leaving them behind.
"I think I know who that is," Harry said tensely.
"Bathilda?" Hermione mumbled to herself.
Not really wanting to, Rasa led them to follow after the woman.
"That's Potter Cottage," Hermione whispered again, pointing out what building the elderly woman was entering.
Harry clenched her jaw as she stared at the partly destroyed building.
"This is where it all began. Where they were killed…where they were murdered," her hand tightened around her wand.
Rasa was suddenly closer to her, the hand not holding a kunai clasping her shoulder comfortingly. His small smile was just as comforting as she turned to him, and he leaned down to kiss her. Surprised at him, especially with others there, she felt a warmth enter her…not unlike the one that had entered Rasa earlier.
His lips pressed firmly against hers, sure and real. And she just held onto the feeling as long as she could, even after he'd pulled back and moved forward to take point and lead them in. She took a glimpse at Hermione, seeing the surprise clear on the other girl's face that quickly turned into approval and happiness. Her face burned hot and she was sure it was as red as a tomato.
But as they slowly moved together to cautiously enter the building, Harry couldn't let go of the warm feeling that was still in her chest, despite the foreboding feeling that was threatening her as well.