Disclaimer: Not mine.
A/N: I have never before written a story, changed a plot, added to or taken from a chapter, because of something left in a review. I appreciate all of them as they do help me know if my story telling is concise, often making me go back to clarify, or to reword. . They help me in making choices as to vocabulary, or grammar, or if the language and tone suit the situation or if I am way off base. They help in characterizations, dialog and in more ways than I can list here. But not in what I like to think of as originality of plot. That said…the following story, a one shot, has been niggling at me since a review was left. This story is a result of that review.
The story: I Need to Breathe.
The scene : Hermione watching the spectators at Harry and Ginny's wedding.
The review, if you are interested may be seen at: this site .net /r/5404052/12/1/
So, for mymorobideprince who unknowingly planted this … I hope you enjoy.
Augusta stood at the back of the crowded platform 9 3/4, waiting for the train to pull out of sight and be sure that it would not be delayed or return to the station. She stood stiffly, keeping her vision turned away from the simpering young women who dabbed their eyes and held up handkerchiefs, as if in some grotesque military salute of surrender, to the last slowly-moving car which appeared to grow smaller as it made its way out of the station.
Fools, she thought, watching the empty track, waiting to hear the footfalls of the other observers that would signal their leaving. If sending a child to school reduced these weak females to tears, she worried about what this world was coming to. Fools and idiots, she thought, not for the first time wondering what type of weak-minded children they were raising.
Once the platform was quiet, she took the opportunity to hazard a look over her shoulder at the crackled and yellowed clock face. Fifteen more minutes, she nodded, righting her heavy hat to sit properly on her head, and turning back to watch the barren rails. She would give him fifteen more minutes. As had been her way every year, knowing he would be late just like he was that first year.
She had once worn a Muggle skirt to the station send off, because Franklin had liked it. Not the sombre-blend-in witch colours she had been much more likely to don. It had been yellow, yellow and panelled. Panelled in silk to slip and flitter when she walked, and when her too high heels hit the too hard pavement the hem would rise up and show just the bottom of her knee. He had liked it best when she had worn it with her wide black belt and softer-than- a-kitten pullover with ¾ sleeves, and with a large brooch shimmering over her left breast and a single strand of white-white pearls hugging her too bare throat.
"Scandalous," her mother had said, disgust and reprimand heavy in her voice. "A married woman has no call dressing like that. You should be ashamed."
She had worn the skirt that day to see off Bernice, who had lost her parents in the Great Flood at Jaywick, and who then lived in the rooms she had vacated in her mother's house. A strong child she was. One that years later Augusta could look at with a semblance of pride, even as she scoffed at her prideful ways and quoted that it went before the fall. A fall, she was likely to add, came to any tart that put herself above the rest and relied on feminine wiles and simpering ways to get what she wanted.
Augusta smoothed her skirt, feeling the coarse woven wool and looked down in surprise, expecting to find yellow where she only saw black. Strange, she thought, how this place had the power to pull her back into the past more so than any other did. More able to remind her and frighten her at the same time, as it filled her chest with an ache that she had thought dead and buried with him, her Franklin.
"You are still a young woman."
She must have heard that phrase a hundred times as she had stood in her sedate black and sombre dress to bury him. She'd heard it as the muddy clump of dirt in her hand, meant to be the first to cover his casket with its sickening-hollow thud, had slipped through her fingers and onto the grass covered ground. Later, after the luncheon and the last of the grieving guests had thankfully left, she'd once again dressed in yellow and gone back to bid him goodbye. Running her hand over the roughly hewn headstone, she had said the only thing that had come to her. She had told him that she'd hung the dress he never liked in her cupboard out of spite.
"You ruddy bastard, now what do I do?" She had laughed then. Partially at the absurdity of it all, that she should be talking to her dead husband and partially because she saw no logical reason he should not answer. "I'd wager you are laughing at me right this minute. You think I can't do it? You think you are the only one that can take care of me? You're not you know. It was me that took care of you so don't go thinking I can't."
"You are still a young woman," was multiplied to a thousand score as the years passed. Frank grew up without his father, but with his smile and easy gait. Late at night, she had often heard him walking through the house, and having woken, stuck in that time between dreams and reality, that quiet place where only lost memories hide, the sound of his footfalls had caught her unaware and made her heart quicken thinking it was him that had come home. Now, she sent the son of her son off to school and watched down the rails as she had done so many times before. She knew that the house would be too quiet once more. Gone would be the sound of his feet, so different from that of her son's.
In the in between years, between her son and his, she still had come on every first of September. It became her way to count the passing time. Rather than laying flowers on the hard packed soil and pulling weeds from his poorly kept plot, which she had visited just that once in her yellow skirt, oh so long ago, Augusta came here. If asked why, she would say that the children needed watching, that the wide yellow safety line at the platform edge was faded and oft ignored. That and she would berate the asker, saying it was none of their business and their time would be better served watching over the urchins that ran unsupervised too near the tracks.
She looked back at the clock. Eight more minutes. She would the wait eight more minutes for him that she had not known she had waited that first time.
It was the train had been late that morning. Bernice had boarded, the whistle had signalled yet another final warning. Parents had begun to file out and call to each other, promising to keep in touch over the harsh winter. Augusta had glanced at the clock and smoothed her yellow skirt, knowing Franklin would be caught in traffic. Knowing that she should have agreed to meet him for lunch and not asked him to collect her from the station.
She remembered wondering why the train had been so late in leaving that morning. Had they been waiting for a stray errant student, running late and already causing the staff problems? Had there been yet another summer storm causing problems on the track? Perhaps there were problems up at the damn, known to wash out in sudden down bursts. She thought now that perhaps she should have pursued it and found the true reason, insisted on an apology from the Ministry, or perhaps demanded the use of a time turner to set right where they had failed.
She had spun around smiling, feeling the whispering shimmer of silk brush her legs, already wanting to reach out and grab his hand, lay it on her stomach and tell him in a few short years it would be his son that was going to Hogwarts. His son that would change the world and be the best. That it was his son that grew inside her and made her walk carefully in the too high heels.
"Alastor? Whatever are you doing here? Where is Franklin?" She had questioned him as the hiss of the Hogwarts Express' brakes releasing drowned out her words. She'd glanced at clock over his shoulder realising Franklin was much too late. "Alastor!" She had yelled over the clamouring and lurching of the train starting up. "Why are you here?"
"Aggie, I'm so sorry." He had put his arm around her shoulders and led her back to the far wall, leaning down and whispering in her ear, catching her and her son as she'd fallen.
That, she remembered as the only time she had felt another's arms hold her up. She had slapped him then. Slapped him for telling the truth and not the lie she had begged for him to say. Begged him in a way she never begged again. She remembered it was the first time she had heard the words she would hear a hundred fold.
She turned now and saw the scarred old Auror that Alastor had become. Confused only momentarily, her mind quickly sorted whether he had come for Franklin or for Frank, as he had come to her for both. She smelled the oily stench of the station and remembered a yellow skirt, not the cold marble surroundings of the Ministry where he had come to tell her that her dream for Franklin's son was gone as well. "What the bloody hell are you doing sneaking up on an old woman that way?" She spat out her anger as her eyes flicked to the clock and quickly back to his face.
"Same thing I been a doing for the past forty odd year," he spat right back. "Told him I'd pick you up and see you home and that's what I plan on doing. So don't get all uppity with me old woman."
"Told him," she muttered. "Told a dying man to make him happy is all you did. Now you go on, I can get myself home."
"A promise's a promise. He never told me to only do it once." Moody looked up the tracks and nodded. "You got that boy of his on there this time?"
"Yes, my Frank's boy."
"How's he doing? He and Alice the same?"
"No change." She soothed her black woollen skirt and took his arm, looked at the clock and knew it was time.