Unofficial Portkey Archive

On the Street Where You Live by littlebird

On the Street Where You Live


Let's call this Pre-Harmony. A quickly written ficlet for a little competition over at FFN.

Just for fun. No infringement intended


On the Street Where You Live

The moonlight lays wrong upon the banister.

It stops her at the door, the veil of dust. She'd prepared for empty rooms and close air, but not the false play of light. Not the fallout of her family dulling every surface. Dead cells frost the stairs, the mantle, the carpets- a whole house sleeping beneath unruffled sheets of what's been sloughed-off-- opaque, velvet soft, and thick enough to carve a name into.

She does just that: Squats, draws Granger in her best script on the wooden floor of the entryway, meditative and slow, like a bald monk marking shapes in stones and sand. She looks at the tip of her finger, the coat of grey down. When was the last time she touched the whole of her parents?

It feels like the most perverse indulgence, asking, but it's why she came here, tonight. It is impossible to wonder all the things she wants inside another family's grief.

So many questions. Maybe this dust holds a few answers.

She scans for footprints with her wand-light, feels a bit ill to see the floor so obviously undisturbed. She doesn't know which thought balls heaviest in her chest: That his people had come so soon after she'd done what she had, or that, perhaps, they hadn't come at all.


Number 164 Heath Street.

It might have been 162, or even 146. But the street name he's sure of, even if it was just a scrawl inside a book she happened to leave outside the tent one night last fall. A Muggle book, a bearded man on the cover, face wizened as an old gnome's. Poetry, had it been? He'd only paid attention to the writing on the back of the front . Her name in careful, joined-up letters (a child's hand?) in pencil, a return address.

How incredibly dangerous, he'd thought then. Practically a written invitation to perverts and murderers and just all the bad at large in the world. She, of all people, should have known better.

He thinks so again as he looks into the black windows of Number 164.

He'd given her a half hour to come back.

She, of all people, should know better.


She stares as her bedroom door grows out of the eggshell expanse. This, at least, she seems to have done right.

Another threshold to cross, and again she falters. Earlier, it was a refrigerator light that finally drove her inside. Just a sudden fleck over her shoulder, a reflection of yellow, then dark, then bright white in the inky glass of the outside door. Like no spell-fire she has ever seen, and for one split-second-- keys, not wand, in hand-- she'd bent, braced for the slice, the stab, the burn that must have been bound for her turned back.

Of course, it had been nothing of the sort. Just Mr. Blackwell across the street, rummaging through the evening's leftovers, same, she remembers now, as every other night.

Just one more thing she had forgotten that she thought she never would.

Like the unruliness of the Bernard's flower beds, the way the yellow tulips nod over the pavement side of the border so one has to step into the street to so as not to knock the heavy heads from their stalks.

Or how Noah Miller's old swing set groans in the wind. How the chain's clank knitted into her healing flesh the first weeks of her sixteenth summer as she sometimes pretended his lips were someone else's, but most times did not.

Or the way May on this street smells just like June. Honeysuckle, and clipped grass, and the occasional thick drift of saffron from the Bhatti's kitchen window.

Mundane things. Mundane things, all. But still, her things. Her things.

She lays her hand on the knob, twists.


Maybe this is the wrong street, after all. Barring the rogue tulips next door, the gardens are all ready for their close-ups, and none of the windows are any emptier than the rest. Everything looks exactly as it should. No so much as a shingle out of place

So, this must be the wrong street. Or maybe it's the right street, and she just went elsewhere. She's adept at hailing cabs. Knows how to board a plane. The houses spin a bit at the thought. There's no end to how far she could get from them all, how quickly.

He should have woken Ron. He should have woken the whole damn house and they could have gone out in pairs, and... and what?

He sits on the bottom step of Number 164, shrouded in his father's cloak. He listens to the crickets, breathes the heady sweetness of the honeysuckle. The street lamps aren't so bright here that they blot away the stars. It's a lovely place, really. Peaceful. The sort of place that could grow a girl like her.


He picks a bit of mulch from the flower bed, tosses it near a cat nosing at the neighbours tulips.

After all this time, how could he not know the street where she lived?

He turns, looks up at the closed door, the dark glass. Number 164 Heath Street. It would be stupid to come all this way and not take a peek...


She takes the apple to the open window, twists off the top by the light of her wand cradled between her cheek and shoulder. The smell of balsa wood and red varnish rise from inside, and she is suddenly five years old again, feet tucked up in her flannel gown, setting up to play while her parents sleep down the hall.

She places the things inside on the window sill the way she knows is best. Tiny, round table first, then carved wooden tea-pot, cream pitcher, sugar bowl, saucer, and teacup, in that order.

She tosses the extraneous pillows from the bed, slips off her shoes. It is ridiculous, she knows, this play. There's no reason these old charms should still work when the Ministry approved ones do not. Sleeping in her own bed won't lull the nightmares away. The tea set on the window sill won't lure in the good to chase off the bad, and there's no one left here to climb in next to in the dark.

She lies back. Tilts her head toward the window.

My bed, though, she thinks as her eyes close. My very own. Where she's read, and planned, and touched, and dreamed.

Three deep breaths. Honeysuckle and clipped grass. Noah's swing set clanks in the breeze.


An unprotected door and Granger on the floor.

Oh, Hermione.

Her footprints lead up the steps, and Harry takes off the cloak to follow them, not wanting to disturb the blanket of dust. It's hot, but dry- no damp in these walls- and he doesn't want to be blasted into next Tuesday for a sudden fit of sneezing.

At the top of the stairs, cool air drifts from the open door at the end of the hall, and he wants to charge in, grab her by the arm and drag her back to the Burrow. He wants to say all the things put-out people say. 'What were you thinking?' and, 'All you had to do was ask one of us to come with you,' and then, 'Don't ever do that again!'

But then he's standing in the doorway of her room, and he realizes, he's standing in the doorway of her room, and it feels oddly sacred, this place, and he closes his eyes to not see, but it still smells like her, and... this was the bulk of her life. This street, and this house, and the people that lived down the hall, and this room, and this window and the stars framed inside.

And he doesn't know the first thing about any of it.

He raises his head, then. Opens his eyes. She's asleep on her bed. Sound, back curled to the door and utterly vulnerable. He shakes his head, steps over the threshold, takes in what he can by the moonlight.

Blue rosettes, dozens of them, on a cork board over her desk. Low shelves lined all around the room. Books and books and books. A pair of strappy heels, abandoned by a closet door. A lone dark-eyed doll in a pinafore and straw hat. A night stand. A lamp with a silk shade. More books. A single bed. The open window, a wooden apple and a little table set for tea on the sill.

Only one cup, though. Only one cup for one little girl.

It's not nearly as dusty in here. Not dusty at all, really, and Harry pulls the softest looking pillow from the pile, then toes off his trainers and stretches out on the floor.

Tomorrow he will ask a few hard questions, and he will listen when she answers. He'll make sure she knows this business of going off on her own is not to be born, that three can fly to Australia as easily as one. He won't let go of her hand on the way back to the Burrow. He'll find a good bit of wood, and in the shape of a teacup and saucer, begin to whittle out the promise, 'you are never alone'.



All thoughts are appreciated. Thank you so much for reading.

Valid HTML 4.0! Document created with wvWare/wvWare version 1.2.7