These drabbles are in response to a challenge by Droxy. The whole point is to learn to write concisely (who me?) by writing scenes with no more than one hundred words. This is a post-HBP fic.
I own nothing you recognize. I simply play in JKR's universe for stress relief.
Ending One Life
"I never want to lay eyes on you again."
Hermione looked up from her packing, taking in the tall rangy form, the shock of carrot hair, and his sweet blue eyes. Her first love. Her first lover.
"I understand," she replied, her voice so much more calm than she felt. "I'll do my very best to stay away from anywhere you are."
"I'll never understand how you can live with yourself," said Ron, his eyes cold and his body rigid with barely controlled rage.
"Apparently, you'll never understand any part of it," she replied sadly, spelling her travel trunk closed.
The last she saw of Ron was as he slammed the door behind him.
Molly was in the kitchen, waiting for her. She was holding Crookshanks, who purred loudly as she scratched his chin.
"I'll take good care of him for you," said Molly, not quite meeting her eyes, "I'll take him back to the Burrow and he'll chase garden gnomes to his heart's content."
"When I'm settled somewhere, I will come and get him."
"I wish you wouldn't leave," said the woman who had been a second mother to her.
"I have to go," said Hermione, her voice breaking.
Number 12 Grimmauld Place was behind her, now. Hermione sat on the bed, the cheap mattress sagging. Carefully warding the room, she'd be safe for the night. The inexpensive Muggle hotel room was the definition of shabby.
"Not unlike my life," snorted Hermione.
She did not unpack, but opened the trunk and removed the book of photographs. She turned the pages, looking at faces. Harry and Ron waved at her from the photo after the second task of the Tri-Wizarding Tournament. Hermione ran her fingers over Harry's face and he smiled at her.
She wiped her tears from the photo.
The cemetery was cold.
Hermione looked around. There were so many new graves surrounding Dumbledore's white tomb. Simple white markers, each engraved with a phoenix.
Hermione knelt on the frozen ground. Her stomach clenched and she doubled over, wrapping her arms around her middle. The pain, fully acknowledged for the first time, overwhelmed her. Hermione sobbed helplessly, tears joining the frost on the grass that served as the blanket over Harry's grave.
The rock struck her face, cutting deep into the tender skin of her cheek.
Her head shot up and she pulled her wand from the secret pocket sewn into all her clothing. The habits formed over the last two years of the war fell instantly into place as she silently cast the Protego. The words of a slicing spell were almost past her lips when she realized who she was preparing to defend herself against.
A red and gold scarf around his neck and no more than thirteen years old.
"You traitor," he spat, "Second only to Pettigrew and both of you Gryffindors. You make me ashamed of my House. You murderer!"
"Mr. MacInnes, that will be quite enough."
The boy responded instantly, the result of two years of programmed obedience to that voice.
"Yes, Professor McGonagall."
"Twenty-five points from Gryffindor for engaging in an unprovoked attack," said McGonagall. "You will report at 8 pm for your detention with Mr. Filch."
The boy ran to the castle.
A gentle hand touched the cut on Hermione's face.
"Come, child," she said, holding out her hand for Hermione to take, "You are cold and this needs tending."
Hermione raised her head and met the Headmistresses' eyes. There was warmth there, understanding, and perhaps even forgiveness.
"I knew you would come sooner or later," said Minerva, handing Hermione a cup of tea. "He has been waiting to talk to you."
She stood and walked out of the office, leaving Hermione alone with the man in the portrait.
"I left you no choice," said Albus Dumbledore, the familiar beloved voice coming from high above Hermione's head. "I took away your choices, just as I did to Professor Snape, and ultimately to Harry Potter."
"The responsibility is mine and each of you have paid the price."
"You have a way out, Hermione. The envelope is on Minerva's desk."
Hermione put the envelope into the pocket of robes.
"I'll contact you after I get there," she said.
"Are you certain you will not stay the night?" asked the Headmistress, "A good night's sleep before your journey and a meal in the morning? I would like the opportunity to talk."
"You have a difficult enough time dealing with the Board of Governors as it is," replied Hermione, "My presence here does you no good. I've taken a hotel room in Muggle London and I'll be safe enough there." She left the question unasked.
"Albus did the same for Professor Snape."
To be continued