Title: Someone to Meet
Summary: Hermione has someone to meet the newly released prisoner.
Word count: 12 x 100.
Disclaimer: Characters belong to JKR.
And - do not fear for 'The Lilac Tree'. I have half of the next chapter written and shall type as quickly as the words come. Forgive me for being unresponsive; I'm coming back 'round. Thank you to everyone who thought of me!
Someone to Meet
The countryside is quiet. There are the usual noises that accompany such places – rushing, whistling winds, insects and the like - but otherwise, it is silent.
I take one step forward; the small stones on the path make a crunching, grating sound under my feet.
The cottage is small. The walls are white-washed and the slate roof has been restored well enough. Window boxes hold bright coloured flowers. The wards around the actual dwelling are too strong for me to look through the front windows and ascertain whether or not she has planted herbs on the sills near the sink.
I assume she has cultivated such things. It would be the sensible thing to do.
Hermione Granger is a very sensible woman, indeed.
There are no lights visible – three in the morning is a harsh time for those living languidly and I have heard of her neighbours: elderly, quiet. Nosy parkers, I suspect.
I am glad of it.
I stride to the front door and raise my fist to it; three knocks and I hear an audible gasp.
My heart pounds; my mouth is dry. I wet my lips and ponder my reception.
The door is wrenched open.
She bounds into my arms that are already held open to receive her. I clutch her to me, drinking in her sobs, her scent, the feel of her fingers clinging onto my coat.
Hermione is weeping. Our cheeks are pressed together; I can almost taste her breath.
"I thought you couldn't get out! I've been up all night –"
"Shh, love," I croon, groaning as I finally kiss her face, her cheeks, her eyelids. She quivers. "I'm here, I'm here."
How could I have forgotten how sweet it is to hold her?
I have not held her in five years.
"Five years," she breathes hoarsely, her lips plump and shining from my kisses.
"Five years," I confirm, as inane as it is to confirm something that we have both spent years concentrating on.
I want to hold her again; I want to remove her clothes and remember how it feels to be lost inside of her body.
She sighs. "Did anything happen –"
"Kingsley managed to deter them from requesting a cuff to –"
"Bind your magic? Bastards!"
My wife – if only in secret – gazes up at me and smiles. "I'm so happy that you're finally home."
There is much to discuss: five years in Azkaban that began only hours after the fall of the Dark Lord; the path that lies ahead of us.
But we are safe here, ensconced within this tiny Irish village. It is unplottable, Hermione tells me as she pulls my hand and bids me to move further into the cottage. There are bookshelves everywhere, and photos. So many photos.
And who is –
With hands clasped behind my back, I lean forward and scrutinise a photo of a strangely familiar looking little girl. Black curly hair, wide brown eyes…
"Wife? Who is this?"
Hermione draws breath. "There's someone I'd like you to meet, Severus," she whispers carefully as she looks upon my confused face. "Will you come with me?"
"I will go wherever you ask," I reply honestly, one side of my mouth lifting slightly; a ghost of a smile. And I would – truly, I would follow her to Hell should she need retrieving.
"Please understand…" Hermione touches my arm. "I couldn't tell you. They were always listening, and we both know that if they knew of how we'd… of our…"
"Our… association? Our physical relations?"
"Our love," she chastises, swatting my arm.
Yes; it was always love. I loved her from the moment she found me all of those years ago on the floor in Grimmauld Place, shaking and covered in my own damn waste after a night bowing to two deranged masters.
I loved her from when her face appeared above mine, her brows pinched with worry, her hands searching for wounds, her voice placating and calming. I have carried my love for her for so long that it feels as if I have always loved her.
I have loved her; I do love her; I will love her.
I married her in a Muggle ceremony with a priest that smelt of orange peels. Somehow, I slipped away from my new office at the top of the winding stairs for long enough to hold onto her trembling hand and tie myself to her, in body and in soul.
She returned to the castle with me, and I had her for one glorious night. My hands were travellers and they mapped her body; I kissed every inch of her smooth, golden skin.
Our bodies merged, and it was glorious.
It was the greatest transgression.
If they had ever found out…
"They would've kept you in for ten years longer, Severus," Hermione tells me gently. I nod – I know this. It is why we never confessed in the first place. "They would've made us into some… sordid example. I would have lost you to them; they wanted only the excuse to do it."
"Sleeping with a student does tarnish my reputation, yes," I mutter, unwilling to bring the Wizengamot into our reunion, but filled with petulance and indignation all the same.
"Bastards," she repeats. "Wankers. Dickheads."
She laughs – oh, my heart. My heart. My love.
"Come here," I order gently.
From within my arms, Hermione wipes the tears on my cheek that I am determined not to mention. She shakes her head and clucks her tongue.
"Will you come with me?"
"Yes," I repeat, and I allow her to lead me up the creaking stairs. We are tip-toeing, though I am unsure as to why. There is a faint, silver glow coming from a half-open door; like the glow of those night clocks that first years sometimes stick above their beds.
She pushes me through the door by way of answering, and now I see!
"My god," I rasp.
"Is she –"
I cannot speak. I cannot think.
There is a tiny body sleeping here in this room. The body belongs to a girl; she has black curly hair and rose coloured cheeks. Her chest, covered in the blue stars upon her warm pyjamas, rises and falls as she sleeps on, my disbelief and painful hope going unnoticed.
"How old –" I gasp. My beautiful Hermione is crying beside me.
"Five years old," she manages to say.
"Oh – oh god – oh god, my girl – she's mine. Tell me she's mine."
I reach for Hermione blindly, barely able to breathe.
My wife chides me, "Of course she's yours. Look at her."
"I can't stop looking at her." And I cannot – this girl… What have I ever done in my life to be rewarded so? I cannot comprehend that such beauty is mine, that such a family is mine.
"Mine," I whisper hoarsely, dropping to my knees beside the bed. I reach for one small hand. "Mine. Oh, god, our girl…"
Hermione folds herself down and embraces me from behind. "Ours, my darling. She's our girl. And we both loveyou so very, very much."
I bow my head and weep.