NOTP Drabble Competition - Hermione/Severus, #7: a lonely street before dawn

WC: 468

In two hours, the sun would rise into the tendrils of the day Severus hated the most.

He stood on the corner of High Street and Panclair, or perhaps it was just crazy and despair of which he stood at the edge. His dark robes swayed in the morning wind, and he thought if he surrendered to it, maybe the swaying would ease the tightness in his heart.

But he knew only one person could do that on a day like this. He always disliked to depend on her, but today, he would. (He didn't think he could survive if he didn't.)

In two hours, the sun would rise and Halloween would officially commence at Hogwarts.

But as Hermione trudged down High Street in Hogsmeade, all she could think about was that this would be a grueling day for a certain someone. She grimaced as she approached the street that branched out towards the Shrieking Shack, and saw the stoic figure standing there.

He had to have heard her boots scraping on the concrete as she approached him, but he didn't turn to look at her, not even when she was standing right behind him, the fog of her breath hitting the back of his dark coat.

"Severus," she said softly.

A hand slipped into his, slipped into his frigid bubble and shattered every bit of his being. Severus gasped and leaned onto the girl standing beside him, her brown eyes probably watching his face with all the warmth and care he once saw from a pair of green eyes.

He wondered if she knew he was thinking of Lily even as she stood beside him. The answer came in an instant - of course she did.

Of course she knew. But she was here anyway.

Hermione stayed beside him as he stared blankly into the sky, his face shadowed with grief and loss and love. She wondered if she ought to be jealous.

But when he turned to her at last, pain etched into his features but a resigned look set into his eyes, he stared at her with such softness that she did not regret being out here with him.

She offered a slight smile. He shook his head, and placed his free hand gently on the back of her head before pressing his lips to her forehead. Hermione closed her eyes at the intimate touch and smiled at him again when he pulled away.

Hermione's arm tucked around his waist and his fingers began to twirl in her hair, letting her know that he might be grieving the loss of a past love, but he was healing because of a new one in which she was at the center.

"Let's go," he said at last, squeezing her hand in gratitude before they left the street together.