AN: Dear all, I'm very happy to say that I've been working on this story while posting 'The Sun, The Moon, and The Star'! And am very pleased to be able to share this work that took many months to write. I started this story with an idea about 6 or 7 months ago but suddenly had a writing dry spell and decided to shelve it until it felt right to develop and write properly. And here we are, written in two month in between a crazy work load and illness, but finally complete and ready for your viewing.
I hope you enjoy reading as much as I enjoyed writing it, and hopefully I may look forward to your reviews 3 Posts will be weekly, as always!
"Thanks Gin, they look great. I'm glad the whole grunge look is over, I don't suit the black velvet and choker look," Hermione mused as she observed her lovely new peach manicure and pedicure.
"Just don't follow this new trend. All of these women have such thin eyebrows!" Ginny mused, flicking through a copy of Vanity Fair.
"Doesn't sound like me, but I like the new fruity lip glosses you can get it in the muggle cosmetic shops," Hermione smiled, her own lips displaying a little bit of the shine. Her hair was still up, soaking up the hair mask goodness while she sipped her cup of tea.
"Ah right, the Shoes place," Ginny looked up briefly.
Hermione chuckled. "Boots, not Shoes," she corrected but knew it fell on deaf ear as Ginny found the quiz at the back of the magazine and began filling it in.
Hermione enjoyed having these Sunday afternoons with Ginny, just getting together once a fortnight, ordering take out and treating themselves to some pampering. With their busy schedules, it wasn't easy to catch each other and she could always count on Ginny's advice for beauty tips and as a shopping buddy.
Ginny has really grown into herself after the war and became a well-respected journalist. She started out with sports commentary, worked her way up to muggle-relations reporting from the world and now she was back in England as the editor-in-chief for the well-received wizarding newspaper, The Daily Digest. It swiftly replaced the Prophet after Rita Skeeter was put on trial for her many crimes, including her unregistered animagus status and slander amongst many other. Her imprisonment cost the Prophet its reputation, and the sanctions for printing her articles led to the newspaper closing down due to bankruptcy by Christmas of 1998. Seeing the opportunity to replace it, The Daily Digest became the number one daily newspaper in Wizarding Britain. Hermione couldn't be happier for her best friend and her success, though she did sometimes worry for Ginny. Her job was very demanding and left little time for family and relationships. And while the redhead was contented in her single status for the most part, Hermione could see sometimes that she had her lonely days.
A somewhat messy plait or bun of fiery locks and a pair of fashionable glasses were the redhead's daily staple these days and today was no exception. Though no one would suspect she was one of British wizarding fashion icons in her old grey joggers and a t-shirt that boasted 'Chasers do it better' that had at least 3 holes in it. Hermione looked no more put together in her plaid pyjamas, sleeves rolled up to the elbow and hair wrapped in a towel. Being able to be comfortable around each other went way back to their days at Hogwarts, and their pyjama afternoons were both their favourite time out of the public eye.
The media has been crazy lately, despite the war ending nearly six years ago. Luna's Quibbler and Ginny's Digest were about the only two newspapers in the whole of wizarding Britain that were not obsessively observing the lives of the golden trio. It was reaching the level of ridiculous, including speculations about her love life and dragging up all her past flings, or discussing what she was wearing on a daily basis. She once sat down for coffee and someone left the Young Witch magazine on her table, leading her to a discovery of their five-page spread on 'How to dress like Hermione Granger'. She was mortified, and while admittedly she has learnt a few things about style and fashion over the years, it was ridiculous to even contemplate someone wanting to dress like her instead of wearing whatever suited their body and style best.
It was also thanks to these magazines though that she found out what was going on with Harry and Ronald. As she did not visit the Burrow these days, she knew little of its occupants other than what she read and what Ginny occasionally mentioned. After the final battle, Ron admitted his feelings for her but for Hermione the kiss in the heat of he battle only proved that it was too little too late. She genuinely was in love with him once, but those feelings were long gone. Their months of camping, Ron's jealousy and the way he abandoned them only showed her that this was not the man she wanted to spend the rest of her life with. In a fit of anger he called her a frigid harpy and that was that, no more words passed between them for the past 6 years. The magazines periodically informed her of his performance as the keeper for the Chudley Cannons, and his flings with many a fan. Honestly, she was glad she dodged that bullet.
Harry remained a good friend but they rarely saw each other these days. After the war he stuck around for a bit and tried to live a normal life for a change, but the media was relentless, and the pressure from the Ministry and various quidditch reps was too much. So one day he sorted out his affairs and inheritance, and just left. All Hermione had of him was a single letter to say he would always love her, his best friend, his sister, but he had to take time to figure out what he wanted from life. That was five years ago and since then he wrote twice a year for them to catch up on their lives, and visited twice in all the time, on her 20th birthday and the Christmas of 2002. The newspapers knew he was somewhere out there, traveling, and some of the magazines had a running bet on where he would be sighted next at all times. The last time he was spotted was 7 months ago in the US, the British media reporting based on an American article with a photo of Harry in the New York version of Diagon Alley.
Hermione remembered cutting the article and the photo out of the magazine and folding it neatly into the memory box she was keeping in an inconspicuous shoe box in her closet. Many wizards preferred to store their memories in a pensieve, or writing in magical journals to remember everything and infusing the writing with how the memory felt. Hermione preferred a much more muggle way, keeping tickets, receipts, postcards, birthday cards and other small bits in the box that she sometimes opened and revisited to remember. Sadly, with Harry keeping in touch so rarely, the odd article she got at least let her know that he was safe and sound.
"You're missing him again," Ginny observed, apparently done with her quiz.
Hermione shrugged. "He was my only best friend. And I don't have many friends, not to mention close ones. Ignore me, it's just ennui," she said before getting up to wash her hair.
Once it was washed and carefully dried section by section, they cleared the table and Ginny heated up some of the stew from the large pot sitting on her stove. They made plans to catch a muggle movie in a couple of weeks before Hermione gathered her shoulder bag and flooed back to her dark flat. She shuddered at the chill and built a sturdy fire in the fireplace to heat the space up and bring in some light. One of the pillows on the sofa moved and a fluffy head poked out at the change in temperature, sleepy eyes blinking up at her.
"Well hello there," she sat down next to the pillow and lifted it up to reveal her familiar. Apollo was one of the part-kneazle and part-maine coon kittens that she managed to help from a box by a bin near her home and into a shelter. Kittens were often adopted very quickly so she knew they would have a good chance. But this little one wouldn't leave her. He just walked over to her in that uncoordinated way of a 3 month old kitten and sat down in front of her, staring her in the eyes as a soft purr rose in his chest. Hermione took it as a sign and adopted him on the spot. He was now one year old and a handsome, intelligent boy. Crookshanks would always remain her first and most beloved familiar, but the old boy died two years after the war due to old age. Hermione sometimes believed he held on long enough to make sure Pettigrew was punished and she was happy before relinquishing his guard. Having Apollo in her life has made it much more fun, and they proved to be inseparable over the past few months.
"How is my handsome little man?" she asked as she caressed his fluffy belly, the beautiful light grey coat shiny with health.
"Prrrawr," he replied, his bushy tail flicking as he got up to stretch.
"Good, are you hungry? I have some delicious tuna for you," she smiled, rubbing that one spot above his tail that he did not object to being scratched.
He stretched each leg out individually before climbing up on her legs and head-butting her chin.
She chuckled and cradled him in her arms. "I take it you like the idea," she smiled as she carried him into the kitchen to feed him.
Sunday nights were never late, she always ended up in bed with a cup of tea, a couple of digestive biscuits and a book. That night she fell asleep early while reading, with Apollo happily curled up in her arms, purring after she covered him up with the blanket and let him settle down with her. There was the occasional nightmare but most nights she would go without dreaming. Except for the dreams she could never quite explain. They were hazy, strange, and set in different times, but she was always a part of them and felt like she belonged. Ever since her birthday last month though, she's already had four of them and they were getting more strange than ever.
She hummed to herself as she spread the seeds to feed the chickens, glad the chicks were growing so nicely. Come winter they will need the eggs and the meat of the occasional lame one to tide them through. The cow has cost them too much coin already but they would be provided for. Dorothea, the neighbours' youngest daughter waved at her from across the road and she smiled, waving back. The little girl looked a bit better, the salve was helping with the burn on her cheek. Which reminded her, she needed to brew some more later that day if they were to have enough stock for the village while the herbs lasted.
A pair of strong scarred arms wrapped around her waist, a thick leather band tied around one of the sturdy wrist, bearing a familiar coat of arms. "Greetings, wife. How farest thou?"
The question rumbled in her ear still as she woke up suddenly, causing Apollo to stir and meow grudgingly. She could still feel those warm, chapped lips brushing her ear lobe, and her nose crinkled slightly at the smell of livestock and autumnal leaf decay. It was the most vivid dream she's had so far, leaving her to contemplate why these dreams were happening until her alarm went off at five.