Disclaimer: I don't own Harry Potter, or any characters you recognize.
Author's Notes: My story is finished! Thanks to everyone who read, and especially to those who took the time to review or subscribe to this story. It was the first one I wrote, so it means a lot to me to be finished, even if it did take me forever.
The next few months left Hermione no time to mourn her decision or to second guess herself. She, Harry and Ron had their hands full tracking down horcruxes and dodging the Ministry's goons. Sometimes she dreamed of her lost friends, but mostly she kept her mind in the present and on the work in front of them.
Sirius's letter had helped. Remus's tough love, as hard as it had been at the time, helped too. When she had time to look back, Hermione knew that he had made the right choice for them. Hermione's love for Ron was growing deeper by the day as well. Once or twice when they kissed she imagined hazel eyes instead of blue, but for the most part she was moving on. She had felt genuine pleasure at the news of Teddy Lupin's birth; his marriage had been a little harder for her, but she tried to be happy for him. Most of the time, she was.
And then the war was over and Remus was dead.
She couldn't believe it at first - she watched him fall from across the Great Hall, as if in slow motion. She screamed and tried to run to him, but Ron held her back. There's nothing we can do, he said. We have to keep fighting, he said, we have to help Harry. So she did. But a part of her died, too.
When the funerals were all over she locked herself in her room for three days. She didn't cry - she was beyond tears - but she stared at the wall, playing his death over and over again in her head. She had imaginary conversations with Sirius and Lily, but Remus's voice would not come to her. She knew her boys needed her - Ron and Harry were grieving, too. Fred's death had put a hole in their lives that could never be filled, and she wasn't only mourning Remus Lupin. Tonks was gone. Professor Snape. Colin Creevey. Casualties that were anything but casual. It wasn't questioned when Hermione took to her room, and although Ron and Harry checked on her often, they didn't push her to come out until she was ready. They all had tragedies to contend with. When she emerged from her room, she was able to help them start to heal.
A piece of Hermione regretted their parting; if he had so little time left, why couldn't she have spent it with him? Why couldn't she have born his son, a reminder of their love for one another? She thanked God that He spared Harry and Ron, and that more people hadn't fallen, but losing Remus, her last link to the past, was devastating. There was no one who knew what she had done, no one she could talk to about her trip to the past. She wanted to talk to him about Lily, about how proud she would have been of Harry. It hurt that no one would ever know what they had meant to her. Remus had shared her burden, and now it was hers to carry alone.
She had thought seriously of going into the Forbidden Forrest to track down the resurrection stone, but decided it would be unfair, both to her and Remus. The dead were not playthings to be summoned at will; she would have to find a different outlet for her grief. In time, she realized that it was good that they had stayed apart. Some things could never be. It was enough, she supposed, that he had left a piece of himself behind.
She spent as much time as possible with Teddy; he was the spitting image of his mother, but had his father's gold-flecked eyes. He was bright, curious and loving, and he gave Hermione, Harry and Ron a lot of comfort. Life goes on.
She and Ron married after the war's dust settled in a small ceremony. Her parents stood to the side, beaming, while Mr. and Mrs. Weasley wiped tears from their eyes. Ginny made a beautiful maid of honor; Harry a handsome best man. She could not help thinking of Sirius acting as best man for James and Lily and she was glad that the only feelings she had on her own wedding day were happiness and hope for the future. On that day she had no regret, no what ifs. She did feel Remus's presence as she stood at the altar, but she realized it was more as a friend than a past love. She imagined him smiling down on her, holding Tonks' hand and trading quips with Sirius and James. She could almost hear Lily's congratulations. It was a beautiful day.
Two years after her wedding Hermione was playing with Teddy at the Burrow. He was growing into quite the mischievous little boy, and he loved changing his looks at whim. Hermione chased him around the yard, laughing while he tried on three or four different hair colors.
"Hermione?" Mrs. Weasley called her from the kitchen. "Has that boy worn you out yet?"
"Just about," she said, panting. "Where's Harry? Tell him to take this little rascal."
Mrs. Weasley smiled. "Wait until it's your turn. You don't get to give them back."
"Oh, Lord," she said. "Not yet, please!
"You better get cracking," she teased her daughter-in-law. "Just not as many as we have, please God! Do you realize if you all have seven kids we'll have forty-nine grandchildren? I can't even count that - no." She lost her smile. "Forty-two."
Tears sprung into Hermione's eyes and she went to hug Mrs. Weasley.
"It never stops hurting, does it?" she asked quietly.
"No," she replied simply.
"Mah-yee? Can I have a hug, too?" The women looked down at Teddy. He held his arms up and Molly pulled him into the air, engulfing him in a hug.
"You're a good boy, Teddy," she said, wiping her eyes. "Just like your daddy and mommy."
"I know," he said, making both women laugh. "Can I have a cookie?"
"Of course you can, angel," Mrs. Weasley said. "Why don't we add some hot chocolate to the mix?"
"Yes, please." He followed her into the house, blowing kisses to Hermione as he left. She made a big production of catching them, making him giggle. She walked over to a tree stump and sat down, staring at the yard, thinking of nothing and everything. After a few minutes Teddy called her.
"Her-my-nee? Uncle Won's here! He said come kiss him, please. Me too!"
She smiled softly and walked into the house.