Authors Note: Well here we are again folks. Let me know what you think. Follows on from my story The Cure.
I struggled with the title for this one, so I picked something basic. Not to be confused with Xio11's 'After the Battle' - which she needs to start working on again!
Hermione glanced up from her book over at Minerva's slumbering form, she heard again the small cry that had disturbed her. She marked her place in the book, popped it on the table and walked over to the bed. Minerva's sleep looked anything but peaceful, the young woman slid into bed beside her, pulling her naked body into her arms. Nuzzling her face into the hollow of Minerva's bare shoulder, she felt the older woman's body relax in her arms.
It had been nine days since the wedding and the ritual. It had left them both drained; they had been unconscious for about twelve hours after the ritual finished. Eventually they found the strength to apparate to the honeymoon villa that Minerva had rented. In the days since they had spent much of their time sleeping, sunbathing, just resting and relaxing. Gradually they were recovering from such an intense use of magic but it was taking time.
The bedroom of their Greek villa was mere feet from their private beach, sliding doors open letting what little breeze there was into the room. A light curtain kept most of the insects out and kept the room cool and shaded. A wide comfortable bed dominated the room.
Today was the first day that Hermione had not needed an afternoon siesta but snuggling next to Minerva, listening to her wife's soothing breathing, she felt her eyes start to close. Dropping a kiss on the shoulder nearest her mouth she nestled closer and went to sleep.
A few hours later Minerva woke up wrapped in the arms of her young wife. Carefully she turned over, not wanting to wake her. Hermione no longer looked exhausted; rather she looked relaxed and comfortable in her arms. Gently Minerva pressed her lips to Hermione's forehead before resting her own head against the pillow, looking up at the ceiling.
She was still a bit tired herself but every day it got better, no longer did she feel like an invisible curse was sapping her strength. The pain was gone now too, there had been no more debilitating headaches. She smiled to herself as a sleepy Hermione tightened her grip on her body, mumbling something into her shoulder. A flush of desire swept through her and for the first time since the ritual she felt well enough to do something about it.
Minerva's fingers gently ran across Hermione's shapely thighs, caressing the skin that her shorts left revealed. She moved her fingers a little higher, sliding underneath the smooth cotton, finding soft warm skin. Shifting her weight she rolled Hermione onto her back, smirking as she heard a faint grunt from the sleeping girl. She slid down the bed, until her face was level with the exposed skin of Hermione stomach, lips brushed across the muscles and soft, smooth skin – gently at first but rapidly becoming more fevered.
Hermione moaned Minerva's name again, having the most wonderful dream. In her dream, hands and lips were caressing her, as the dream began to take on a techno colour realism that she had never before experienced. Her hips arched as she felt eager fingers slide into her waistband. She gasped as passionate lips found hers, teasing her own with an enthusiastic tongue.
Minerva felt Hermione begin to return her kiss, felt her slowly return to awareness in her arms. "Minerva, what..."
Rapidly Minerva began to unpop the buttons on Hermione's shorts, sliding her fingers inside the garment. Both women moaned as Minerva's fingers discovered that Hermione was not wearing underwear, her fingers sliding into damp curls between the girls thighs. "You're so wet."
It was Minerva's turn to moan at Hermione's words, her free hand pulling the shorts down her hips. With a final kiss she pulled away, sliding back down the bed she put her chin on her palm, looking at the wet curls where her fingers still rested, now moving in glorious circles around the tender flesh. "You are so beautiful." She whispered.
Hermione cried out loudly, lustily, as she felt the older woman penetrate her in a smooth, passionate motion. Her hands tangled in the sheets, her hips arching to meet the older woman's thrusting fingers. Gasping as Minerva's talented tongue began to tease the sensitive folds of skin above her entrance, clutching at the older womans hair as she skilfully pushed her further towards an earth shattering climax.
The next morning
Minerva leaned against the wall looking at her wife. Hermione was sitting on the beach, arms wrapped around her upraised legs. She was gazing out to sea with a pensive expression on her face, something she had been doing ever since breakfast when she had received Harry's owl. Minerva had given her a few hours to brood but this was rapidly getting ridiculous.
The older woman walked silently out onto the sand and sat beside her. "Is everything ok?"
Hermione nodded turning to her wife. "Yeah, everything's fine..."
Minerva raised an eyebrow, "Really." Her tone was dry, her green gaze intense as she silently interrogated Hermione's chocolate brown eyes.
The girl flushed and avoided those intense eyes. How did Minerva know she wasn't telling the truth? "I'm not lying."
"You aren't telling the truth either." Minerva kept her voice deliberately emotionless, not wanting Hermione to know how she felt about her evasiveness.
"I'm sorry." Hermione wrapped an arm around her wife and snuggled into her side. "I'm just worried about Harry."
"Is he ok?"
Minerva tightened the embrace, kissing her young wife on the cheek. "What's wrong, what's going to happen?"
Minerva could see the internal conflict raging behind Hermione's eyes. When she spoke it was carefully and slowly. "Dumbledore started Harry on a mission before he died. Harry doesn't plan to come back to Hogwarts, he wants to go and finish what he and Dumbledore started."
"And you're worried that something will happen to him?"
"Without me around they'll get themselves killed." Hermione was obviously upset, knowing that she wouldn't be able to leave Minerva for that long.
Minerva smiled sadly, knowing that Hermione was right, "Is there not some way that they can complete or at least start this task from within Hogwarts? They can be protected there and the library should provide much of the information needed for any task."
She saw the beginnings of hope stirring within Hermione's deep chocolate eyes. "That's a good idea. I'll go owl him." The girl kissed Minerva tenderly, before she stood up and started to walk back to the villa.
"Oh and Hermione..." She turned to face Minerva, "I suggest you consider telling me what Harry is doing, perhaps I could help." Hermione nodded, not knowing quite how Harry would take either suggestion.
When I mentioned your plans to Minerva (I didn't give her any details), she suggested that perhaps it would be safer to base yourselves at Hogwarts. Please consider it. There has to be more information there that we haven't found and I need to be involved, we've come this far together, the three of us. My marriage doesn't need to change that, please Harry. I couldn't bear the idea of anything happening to you because I wasn't there.
There's no reason you couldn't stay at Hogwarts and go off on carefully planned side trips, is there? The only reason we decided against that was because we didn't have support from someone in authority – that's no longer the case, is it?
Maybe we should think about asking her for help, maybe she'll know something that could help. I don't like lying to her.
Please don't try to do this alone.
She tied the note to Hedwig's leg before going back outside in search of Minerva.
She found Minerva staring at her right hand and rubbing her palm.
"It won't come off you know." Minerva smiled as slender tanned arms wrapped around her waist from behind, she leaned back into Hermione's embrace.
Hermione freed one hand using a gentle finger to caress the symbol burnt into her wife's palm, gently because she knew how tender her own still was. She looked down at the symbol for eternity with a smile, knowing that for her - eternity was held within her arms.
Her lips found the side of Minerva's neck, showing her love and appreciation without needing words.