Disclaimer: Anything you recognize belongs to the goddess, JKR. Implied Severus/Hermione (in the past). This story is loosely based on true events. Lovingly dedicated to Brian (1969-1996). Rest in Peace (TTWD from HA).

No Future Opportunities

You might have been pleased to know that my eyes didn't blur with tears when I learned of your death. I didn't carry on like a frazzled Hufflepuff and didn't begin throwing ashes on my hair or wearing sackcloth.

That would have caused you to sniff disapprovingly.

I was, surprisingly, calm…at least on the outside.

I was more caught off guard…particularly when I learned that you hadn't died recently. It was almost ten years ago.

Ten years?

How did you die, unexpectedly and alone, without some part of me instinctively knowing that you were gone?

Did that small piece of my heart (the one that still belonged to you)…did it die a silent, painless death and go with you?

Not painless.

We loved and lost each other so long ago. It seems like a lifetime when, in reality, it is so much less. It had been wonderful and I still have only happy memories of that time. But it was the distance, despite broomsticks and floo powder, which did not make our hearts grow fonder.

You could not leave Hogwarts. I knew and understood that. Having left once…the circumstances for which you never discussed except with me…you had felt it was your duty to remain.

And your sense of duty outweighed anything else…even the love you had for me.

And you did love me. Oh, Merlin, for a time (far too short), an agonizingly glorious time, you were my life. We worked together. Master and apprentice. Teacher and pupil.

Friends and lovers.

No one understood why we loved each other. My friends were dumbfounded and called you all sorts of terrible names. They couldn't see past the Death Eater's mask you had destroyed all those years before.

None of your friends were left alive to care that you had fallen for a Muggleborn know-it-all like me.

Sometimes, I wondered what it was that had caused us to fall so fast and so desperately. Was it the sheer loneliness (that the world so unkindly inflicts on us) that made us seek out companionship…even in the unlikeliest of places?

It was beautiful.

But, in the end, I had to let you go.

And you had to let me go as well.

It was for the best.

I still believe that even though my heart aches knowing you are gone.

I moved on, you know. Finally found a man who, surprisingly enough, turned out to be my soul mate. I love him in a way I could never love you and, despite the cliché, he does complete me.

You always hated clichés.

He makes me laugh…even when it feels as if the world is crashing down around me, he knows exactly what to say to make the pain ease and a smile, however wan and small, appear on my face.

You never could make me laugh.

Then again, I never heard you laugh. Perhaps you had forgotten how.

Your smile was all you ever graced me with. I don't believe anyone else saw it after the Dark Lord was defeated.

I set down the archived copy of The Daily Prophet and sigh. I had been searching for an article on…I can't remember exactly what…when I saw the small notice that you had died.

I don't know exactly how long I have stood here…thinking and reminiscing.

Ten minutes?

Ten hours?

I am surprised that this has affected me so deeply. I feel that I have lost you again and yet, I realize, you were no longer mine to lose. I had no claim to you just as you had no claim to me.

But the pain in my heart is not my imagination.

I regret not having tried to contact you.

I regret that, when love was spent, I didn't try to rekindle the close friendship we'd once had.

I regret that there will be no future opportunities for us to simply talk and share stories about spouses and children and careers.

But, I do not and will never regret having loved you.

"Rest in peace," I whisper as I put the periodical away and leave the archives.