Well, to be perfectly and totally honest, right now I'm at a loss of what to just…simply say.
This story took me quite a few months to write. As for planning, that didn't take as long, however, as I wrote some scenes sprang out. They alerted me to the issues I needed to confront to help specify things.
But, as I know, many of you are still terribly confused. I had decided, when I posted chapter 33, to reread the story, uploading it onto a device my father recently had bought that I, er, borrowed without telling anyone. So for several days, in the sun and in insect territory, I read. Of course, being the author, it all made sense to me. If anyone still has an issue with something, please ask me. (Warning: I tend to go into full detail)
Unfortunately, for this story, it's the end. This is the last chapter. It's all very final, isn't it?
Well, to shorten it up, it was so, so lovely to meet and discuss with each one of you reviewers! All of you were such a pleasure and, in your own way, you helped me carry on. I normally would try to list as many of you as I could, but that is a task I could never accomplish. However, THANK YOU! (that's for everyone!)
Most importantly, I must thank R J Lupin's Kat! She has helped me to marvelously improve my writing, although it took me a while to stop writing "Madam Promfrey" instead of "Madam Pomfrey." She always deserves so much for all of her hard work! (And for the chapter titles, including this one...)
Also, I want to make it clear, I told you I would finish posting the story! Ha ha! Well, my childish antics are done, and I am pleased to inform you I am currently writing a Time Turner story for our lovely Miss Hermione and Professor Lupin!
Until then, patience is a virtue! (But if not, you can check out my livejournal for any rants I post…)
I hope you'll hang on until the end; I promise not to disappoint. So, thank you, all of you, again and again!
--Evil Cat Hater
Disclaimer--I do not own Harry Potter and Co.
Dedication--To the friends I made, to the friends I've lost, to the friends I still have and love.
All That is Wrong
Though Hermione was weary and exhausted when she woke the next morning, she felt her stomach skip joyfully; an arm held her backside against another body protectively.
She couldn't help but laugh silently, careful not to disturb Remus. In his sleep, he was still protecting her even when the threat was gone.
Her heart beat frantically at having him so close to her. Oh, how she had wanted to have him like this for so long! And his body warmth was just as pleasurable as she had imagined it would be.
Warm breath fell on her ear, caressing it lovingly with the words she wanted to desperately hear. He snored every now and then, but it only drew soft chuckling from her. It was perfect, and she found she did not want this morning to end… not for breakfast, nor for the summer.
"What are you doing up so early?" a voice murmured to her, causing her to shiver and smile, hearing his voice so low and groggy with sleep. Although she had heard this tone millions of times before, hearing it so close had her forgetting all previous occurrences.
"I'm admiring your snoring," she teased lightly, turning her body to fully face him.
He chuckled lightly at her, his arm was still wrapped around her. Feigning dozing off again, he remained motionless. Curiously, she peered over his arm enfolding her with the blankets. She could see the many physical scars he still had. She ignored them, turning her large eyes to look back onto his relaxed face.
Of its own volition, her hand ran across his warm cheek. His lip twitched in amusement. Provoked, her fingers wandered along his neck, reaching his chest. The heat of his skin beneath his clothes stirred a fog within her. Gently she leaned over and let her lips suckle his exposed neck, invoking a noise from him. She sighed softly against him and felt him lay his chin atop of her head.
All was silent, except for their calm breathing. But soon she felt his large toes wiggle around to her petite ones. He began to tickle her, his dizzy laughter against her tired giggles. For a while they continued their battle. In the end, she was unsure of who had won, but it made her wonder if this was how the early mornings were supposed to be.
The dark figure could not look back at the towering castle; it was tempting, hearing joyous laughter echo around the grounds. He was already a few days behind schedule. He couldn't keep delaying himself simply because he couldn't let her memory go. He couldn't let her go.
It was all silly, really. Was he hesitating because she was still his legally-bound wife? Or was it beyond that, back when they were fogged with frustration and animal lust?
He never knew he could ever find himself having unrequited love for someone so inferior to him. But no, she was not at all inferior; maybe in power, but in spirit she was so emotionally stronger. She was driven and passionate, even when absolutely terrified by him. It was ironic and he let himself laugh quietly at the thought.
He wondered how she was now that she had her werewolf. Was what they shared just lust? Or were they close to being in love?
It was silly thinking such thoughts. What would it matter? He was sated for the moment, and had the freedom to peruse what he wanted that didn't fuel revenge. No matter – he still felt incomplete and hollow. Could he honestly be so cold as to torture himself with what-ifs? He let her go to be happy, and that was that.
It was rather early in the morning and the sun was beginning to rise, beautiful colors stretching about in enormous lengths. The horizon was stretched out arms trying to reach something with its elongated fingers. It was odd, he admitted, that he was heading towards the light instead of retreating into the darkness behind him.
But then again, it was said that women had odd effects on men. Ironic it made him feel so weak, yet so powerful at the same time.
He had to get away from all he knew and clear his thoughts and feelings. It would be a long time before he'd let himself get so attached to a place once again. And now that the Dark Lord and Eucken were both claimed dead, he had no burdens to worry about, and he wouldn't have to be quite so paranoid. He had no reason to torment himself, and he didn't have anybody to question his bachelorhood; he happily had no family to worry about keeping alive, or killing for that matter.
He knew it was hopeless, but maybe he'd return to her one day, just to try to talk to. He hadn't had the time to do so; previously it was all about cramming in the time to be with her once more. Yes, it would be nice to talk to her now that the burdens of his family were dead and gone.
His only trouble now was the werewolf, but he did not wish to bother him. The werewolf had made promises with him, and he knew that he could trust the beast with his love. It would, at least, make both of them happy. If only for a bit.
The dark man could only bow in acceptance and try to let himself go on and live his life. He no longer had the ring, and he had no attachments left to worry himself over.
Maybe he'd retire to another country or such while he had the chance.
But to do so, he'd have to let go of the castle behind him. And at the pace he was going, he knew it'd be awhile before he'd forget the new memories of the placid, educational place. It was where his memories of her resided.
Yes, he silently thought to himself. It was all so silly, but it would take awhile.
"Everything's in order?" Harry asked her as he levitated her heavy, overstuffed trunk into the iron racks above the seats. She looked around the small train compartment, memories of when she was much younger drifted back to her. Back then she had felt the compartment's size comparable to her parent's enormous living room.
"Yes," Hermione replied joyously, finding everything ready. She looked up at her best friend, into dull emerald eyes that only shown when Ginny was in the room.
Hermione noted that the white gaze bandages on his head were all in order, and tried to flatten his jet-black fringe, looking goofier than ever, sticking up in even odder ends. Whatever sort of cut he received, it must have been terribly horrid if Madam Pomfrey couldn't fix it and had to resort to a Muggle sort of remedy.
She covered the bandages that ran across his head with his inky hair and smiled happily at him, trying to distract his concern. Looking stupid was the last thing he needed to be worried about.
"Where's Crookshanks?" he inquired curiously, noticing the lack of a hissing wicker basket. Hermione laughed and replied quickly, "He's with Remus, of course. He wouldn't leave the castle without a little coaxing from him."
Satisfied with their organization, they exited the train momentarily to find students bustling around the station, hugging everyone and chatting happily amongst themselves. Her heart lifted at seeing all the faces now smiling, this time with the pure intention instead of pretending.
Oh, how she had missed this innocent and placid feeling…
But her smile increased even more so at spotting Remus, standing a head above the crowds, his graying hair shining against the dark heads around him. His clothes were, of course, much shabbier than the uniformed students standing near him. And in his arms was a bright ginger ball, looking content in his spot in the arms of the gentle and benevolent werewolf.
"How's Crookshanks?" she asked upon reaching him. She softly scratched her cat's head, causing him to purr even heavier and close his eyes in pleasure. "Was he being a good little boy?"
Remus causally replied with an, "Of course," and she gently pulled Crookshanks into her arms despite his hissing warnings; he did not want to let his new friend go. She looked down upon his grumpy, squashed face and wondered if his year had been as eventful as hers. He was nowhere to be found throughout the entire school year…
"Ready to go?" the young carbon copy of Mrs. Weasley asked bossily as she joined their party. Remus tried to remove the bright ginger cat hairs from his cloak, sending Hermione a discreet wink. She blushed heavily and snuggled Crookshanks closer to her heart to drown out the fast beating.
"Almost ready," Remus added before pulling Hermione and Crookshanks into a sweet and soft embrace. Ginny rolled her eyes and tried to not smirk fondly. Hermione couldn't help but laugh at feeling Crookshanks tickle her neck with his soft ginger fur; it seemed he was trying to sneak back into Remus' arms.
Momentarily parting, Remus placed his lips softly onto hers. Her sigh was light, merry, never did she wish to let him go.
Alas, they did soon part, their lips longing to remain locked together. Harry and Ginny watched, eyes large and expressions puzzled. Before either could explode in a rage like Ron would have, or question them humiliatingly like Mrs. Weasley, Remus whispered silently and softly to her, "I'll owl you, and we can meet up sometime this summer, all right?"
All she could do was nod and give him the biggest smile she could conjure.
"See you later then!" Ginny announced, fearful as the other students began to board the train.
"Goodbye for now."
The three headed back onto the train with the loads of other students, all of who were whispering and pointing at her and Remus. Hermione looked back at Remus' beaming form to see him wink gently at her once more.
Before she knew it, though, the train moved gradually out of the station. And out of panic, she raced with Crookshanks in her arms down the aisles, pushing herself through the crowds of students chattering away. She sprinted into the compartment she'd be sharing with Harry and Ginny.
She placed Crookshanks into Ginny's lap unexpectedly – her familiar hissed angrily – and shoved her upper body out of the open window. Luckily, Remus was outside of her window, knowing she'd be there. She beamed down at him; he smiled joyously up at her.
Onlookers watched her wave goodbye, until the distance grew too large. Frozen in time, she watched his return wave, even when she could no longer see it.
Hermione couldn't bring herself to withdraw from the window, even with the harsh wind blowing her hair all over. Holding back wayward locks, she glanced again down the line to where she knew Remus still stood. She felt somewhat lifted.
Finally, she brought her whole self into the compartment and crashed joyously onto the cushioned bench alone. Ginny and Harry watched her with kind eyes, themselves holding hands.
Crookshanks took her return to heart and jumped onto her lap, making himself cozy. She laughed silently, her hand absentmindedly falling to his soft fur in easy strokes. Out of the window the bright landscapes and foliage whizzed by her open vision. She was lost within her thoughts, slipping from one pointless topic to another funny one that she'd never normally think about. Maybe she was beginning to lose her mind…
Harry and Ginny had fallen asleep at some point, the redhead awkwardly placed on Harry's uncomfortable position. Hermione barely noticed, her thoughts immediately returning to her love.
What would they become once she had gotten a nice little home to call her own, perhaps enroll in university? Would Remus move in with her? Or would he first let her continuously invade his personal space like she had previously? What would her parents say?
She groaned and tried not to think of such things. Thinking about defeating Voldemort had always given her a headache before his ultimate defeat. But now thinking about having to try to sugarcoat Remus for her parents was already sending her brain into overdrive. It was coming up with silly ideas and wishing only to retrieve all the sleep she lost when she was too busy holding Remus.
Silly her to think that at the beginning of her last year at Hogwarts she wanted to be named Mrs. Ronald Weasley.
But she now knew better. Like a first year schoolgirl, she rummaged her bag, grabbed a piece of parchment, quill and ink, and elegantly scrawled Mrs. Hermione Lupin over and over… until there was no more room left.
Again, thank those of you who had faith in me! I hope you enjoyed this story!
I can be contacted through review, PM, e-mail or my livejournal. I am open to any thoughts!
P.S.--Want more ATIW stuff? Check out my livejournal (the address to which you can find on my author page) for artwork, a scraped scene, and more!