The first anniversary of the battle, Hermione had been running away.
She'd kept a few hairs she found caught around the topmost button of Professor McGonagall's Wizengamot presentation robes, and used one in Polyjuice to transform into a tall, elegant black-haired lass with a brogue. It was deliciously liberating to wander around Diagon Alley without being stared at as "Hermione of the Golden Trio". But the sight of Olivander's shop still boarded up after three years stopped her in her tracks, and she stood staring at the building, tears running down her face.
A deep voice with a slight burr beside her handed her a handkerchief, and she sobbed into it gratefully. Then a pair of strong arms wrapped around her, and she found herself crying into a comforting unknown shoulder. This opened a deep wellspring of pain she had buried for too long, and it was quite a while before she could compose herself and offer the handkerchief back.
"Keep it. I think you'll be after needing it again."
He took her arm and gently guided her down the side entrance to the wandmaker's rear garden. Three years of neglect had left the shrubs overgrown, but the street noises were damped by the abundant greenery. He led her to a stone bench and sat them both down.
"David. And you are?"
He put his arm around her shoulders, pulling her close, and they stayed in remembering silence a while longer.
Hermione felt the peace of the overgrown garden seep into her, driving out the darkness. The sky, grey all day, began to drizzle, and she shivered as the rain washed out the last traces of inconsolable sadness. David pulled her closer, and with a gentle touch under her chin,turned her face towards him. Taking back his handkerchief, he dried the last of her tears, then tenderly kissed her nose.
"I have to go." He kissed her nose again, and handed the handkerchief back. "Will you be all right?"
"Yes. And I have to go too. Will I see you again?"
"Not for a while. Maybe next year."
And he stood, turned and disappeared.
The second anniversary, Hermione told Ron she needed to be alone for the day, and used the second hair. The day was sunny, and she wandered around the Victory Celebrations in Diagon Alley, looking for a certain tall figure for half an hour before she thought to go back to Ollivander's garden. The wandmaker had finally sold the property, too broken after the war to go back to work, but the new owner had not yet moved in and the garden was now more unkempt than before.
She spent a few minutes wandering through the tangled bushes when she heard a deep voice behind her.
"Helen. I wasn't sure you'd come."
"I had to give this back."
Hermione held out the handkerchief, now washed and ironed, but he caught her wrist and drew her to him.
Their first kiss was warm, the second relived, and the third lasted an eternity. This time it was Hermione who stopped first. A tingling on her scalp warned her the potion was wearing off, and she gently pulled free of his arms and took a step back, still holding his fingers. She looked deep into his hazel eyes, memorising them for the long interval ahead.
"I have to go."
"So do I." He stepped up and kissed her nose again. "But will I see you next year?"
"I'm not sure. Not about the year after either. But in five years, no matter what, we should come back."
"Five years then." David kissed her one last time, and she stepped away and span and landed on her bedroom mat seconds before the potion wore off completely.
The next anniversary Hermione tried hard not to think of David while she and Ron moved into their new home in Otterly St Catchpole, a few blocks from the Burrow.
The year after, she hadn't meant to go, but Mollly insisted on taking her for some looser robes as her old ones were too tight over her pregnant stomach. She tried to look around circumspectly, but saw only familiar figures such as Neville Longbottom, Draco Malfoy, and a very dapper Dean Thomas proudly re-opening Ollivander's old shop.
She missed the fifth anniversary completely, having collapsed with exhaustion nursing Rose through a serious stomach bug. And the year after, she was giving birth to Hugo at the exact time that she wanted to be in Diagon Alley.
On the seventh anniversary, Hermione landed in the Leaky Cauldron fireplace in a foul mood. The last month had been horrid and to cap it off, as she was putting a hair in the potion, a breeze had whisked the others all off the dresser and out the window.
She got as far as the bar and hadn't yet ordered a drink when she felt a hand on her shoulder. Turning, her gaze met a pair of longed-for hazel eyes, and she took his proffered hand and let him lead her upstairs to a bedroom.
Their kiss was one of complete surrender to each other, and he took out her hair clip and released her long black tresses to cascade as he unbuttoned her dress. She ran her fingers through his hair, pushing his brown curls back so she could kiss his neck , then she pulled his soft shirt off over his head. His muscled chest was smooth to her roving fingers, and she kissed him unrestrainedly. Neither resorted to magic to remove the clothes, preferring the tactile sensation and the growing excitement the delay brought. Their joining was fiery, wild and passionate; fueled with seven years of anticipation.
Lying together in the afterglow, she twisted her fingers through his and looked into his caring hazel eyes.
"Who are you?"
He smiled sadly and brushed a stray tress from her eyes.
"Someone you won't be seeing again. This is my last trip to London for a very long time." He sighed. "I'm sorry, Helen. This has been magical, but we both knew it couldn't last."
She nodded, a tear slipping down her cheek. "I can't come back again either."
"I was. But I realised I needed to be married to someone I could rely on."
"I did. And I saw he hadn't. I though he had become self-centred and thoughtless and cared more about Quidditch than about me. Then I realised he had always been like that..."
Hermione started weeping silently, and David gently stroked her shoulder.
"It was magical that we found each other, Helen, and the magic will happen again. If you can't come next year, send me a message, and I'll do the same."
He grinned, a most uncharacteristing grin. "Do you have any of Lockhart's books?"
"No-one reads them any more. So I'll be leaving word with Tom at the bar. Write me a message, put it inside the book, and I'll have him send it on to me."
The absurdity o f the method broke through her misery, and she cracked up laughing.
"It's a deal." Hermione leaned over to David, kissed him passionately, then leapt out of bed and grabbed her clothes. David sat up in bed and watched her hungrily, committing to memory every curve of her body as she hurridly dressed. She slipped on her shoes, then looked directly at him.
Hermione arrived home, then cursed. She had left her new hairclip behind at the Cauldron.
Hermione spent the next few weeks thinking over her assignations. They had not exchanged two hundred words, yet their souls had become bound tightly together. And he had been so reliable, so solid, so unchanging...
And then she realised.
He hadn't changed.
No aging, no lines on the face, the hair exactly the same length.
And she laughed at her own folly, falling for a man who had been using polyjuice potion too.
And yet the next anniversary had her sitting at a table in the Leaky Cauldron, a butterbeer and her signed copy of "Travels with Trolls" in front of her.
Draco Malfoy walked in, straight over to her, and sat opposite.
"Go away." She glared at him, then back down at the book. "I'm waiting for someone, Malfoy, so leave me alone."
He smirked, then put something on the table between them.
"They're enchanted, didn't you know?" He ran his finger over the edge of it. "It changes colour to match the eyes of the wearer. I should know – I make them."
He looked into her eyes, and then back to the brown clip.
"Helen's eyes are blue."
Then he reached into his bag, pulled out a copy of "Year with the Yeti" and put it in her hands.
"I can't promise not to change, but I don't have to leave this time."
And he leaned across the table and kissed her nose.