AN: Long story short: terribly sorry it's taken forever. I'm editing the first three chapters before continuing. Don't hate me please? :)

The sound of thunder rolling in the distance could be heard, with it the promise of rain coming to cleanse the earth. The wind gently shook the trees and swept through the neat rows of stone structures, chilling the small group standing gathered among them. The sky was a desolate gray, making the entire world seem less bright even though the sun was surely shining somewhere. The dark clouds bringing the rain loomed off to the west, cutting off any hope of sunlight for the day.

Then again, funerals always seem to tone down the brightness of life, even on the best of summer days. Unfortunately for those assembled, it was the middle of February (the fourteenth, to be exact) and the wind blowing past cut through the heavy clothing protecting them from the harsh English winter. One in particular had more than the wind to blame for her lack of warmth, and she pulled her scarf tighter around her neck to stave off the careless gusts fighting to pull her hair out of its carefully created perfection. She had no easy fix for the other chill racing up and down her spine, no spell or incantation to warm her up for a good long while.

Today's funeral was no different. The group, composed of the deceased's family and closest of friends, found little comfort as the priest—insisted upon by her parents—intoned the final rights as the casket was lowered into the ground. It was not really standard practice for there to be muggle religious leaders at wizarding funerals, but then Hermione Granger's parents were both muggles. It helped them with the already difficult burden of burying their only child, so the priest was silently accepted by the rest of those present.

Aside from the Grangers, the majority of the group had brilliant red hair. The Weasley clan turned out in force, the youngest clinging to a young dark-haired man with a rather odd scar on his forehead. On the arm of another scarred individual, an attractive blond woman stood with tears flowing freely, if quietly, from her eyes. Her mascara, once perfectly done, now ran in two distinct lines down her cheeks. Had any of the others bothered with makeup, their faces would mirror hers. Not everyone's grief was as quiet as she—the matriarch of the redheads was sobbing loudly on her husband's shoulder.

She was yet another casualty in the Battle of Hogwarts. None of those assembled had actually witnessed the tragic event that took Hermione from them that horrible night. A witness explained that he saw her dueling with one of the Death Eaters, hurling spell after spell at the other, until a green burst of magic struck her squarely in the chest. He tried to tell them about the sickening thud which followed, but the howling emitted from Molly Weasley silenced his retelling. When able to continue his story, he related that the Death Eater, seeing her deed done, took to the air as the wispy black cloud Voldemort's followers preferred and disappeared to another section of the battlefield. When the battle finished, Hermione's body was discovered where it fell, and was taken into the Great Hall to lay amongst the dead.

That was several days ago. The school had since been put into some semblance of order; the bodies were identified and sent home, and the funerals began.

When the priest finished and the coffin was buried, the group dispersed. Her parents walked towards their car and the group of redheads went in the opposite direction, the dark-haired man with them. Only the blond lingered, a single red rose held in her fingers that she had kept hidden in the folds of her coat. She kissed it gently and knelt down, placing it on the fresh mound under the headstone which read, "Here lies Hermione Jean Granger: Beloved Daughter and Friend."

In a way, the blond refused to believe what had happened. Something deep down inside her whispered that this wasn't right. Even though she had held Hermione's cold hands in hers in the still darkness of the Great Hall that first night and silently wept over her body, Fleur couldn't believe it. Couldn't or wouldn't, it was hard to say. Hermione meant more to her than words could express.

And now she was gone. Dead and buried.

Fleur clung to the desperate voice inside her head that whispered to her that they would meet again, somehow, some way. She knew it was right, or maybe she was just delusional. She didn't really care at this point. She could practically feel the depression setting in as she turned her back on the tombstone, walking on towards an uncertain future where the girl she loved would not be.

Needless to say, she was not looking forward to it in the slightest.