Disclaimer: Harry Potter and its characters are the property of J., I'm just borrowing them for a bit. :)
Author's Note: Sorry about all the angst, but I just can't seem to get away from it lately. I also apologize for any grammatical or spelling errors I may have missed, I tried my best but I'm far from perfect. Enjoy, and as always, Please READ and REVIEW!
Hermione sits on the edge of the bed, the white sheets pool around her thighs and the ends fall carelessly to the floor. Her feet, warm from the covers, send shivers through her body when she forces them to make contact with the icy ground. She despises the feeling and yet she forces herself to do it every day, to make sure she's still alive.
Harry's hand comes to rest on the back of her neck, and though they've touched thousands of times, before, now she can't seem to feel anything, hasn't been able to for far too long. His skin is too cool, the fingers just a breath too short and palms too slender. He touches her lightly; his fingertips only just meet her own skin, brushing tentative swirls.
She remembers the touch of another. Heavy and warm, firm and oh so sure, that's what she craves. Instead, she turns her head to rest her cheek on that hand that still feels so foreign even after all this time. But she loves Harry all the same, more than anyone in England or on Earth. The only exception is the hand that can only touch her now in dreams, the man who lingers by her only in memory and spirit.
Harry's hand slips slowly south on the naked column of her spine, tracing circles around and down each separate vertebra. Reaching the end of her back, he slips his arms around her waist and hugs her to his bare chest. One palm presses to her hip while the other glides up between her breasts in search of her most precious possession.
Harry's breath snakes through her curls and assures her that he hasn't given up yet either. His lips begin to worship her scars and she leans back to give him better access. She is all too willing to share those with him, the visible pieces of her darkness and desperation, and he the same. She closes her eyes and lets herself breath in the heaviness of the night, lets herself be consumed by the emptiness. She strains to hear the beat of Harry's heart so that its sound can lull away her doubts.
She reaches back to Harry and threads her fingers through his prematurely greying hair, massaging away the tension he holds from this day, from this life. He tightens his hold on her and she can feel the hard metal of the chain he wears digging painfully between them, she relishes the pain. Her gaze wanders down and she watches transfixed as Harry lovingly cradles the simple gold band that hangs over her own heart, the near twin of the one that lies over his own. Neither she nor Harry could stand to bury the last pieces they had left of Ron and Ginny with them in the ground, instead they'll wear them till the day they die, until they can be finally reunited.
"I miss them, Hermione. So much I think I'll die. It hurts all the time and I just don't know how much longer I can do this." His voice is as broken as his spirit, and Hermione can feel his tears drip onto her shoulder and slide warmly down her collarbone. They've had this conversation before, and she gives the same answer she always does when it's her turn to be strong for the two of them.
"It will all be over soon, Harry. We just have to hang on a little longer. For them." She says it softly, but with a firm conviction that she almost believes. She doesn't say whether it's the end of Voldemort and the war that they're waiting for, or death. She doesn't know the answer herself, but she thinks they might be the same thing. Hermione can't stop her own tears from falling and soon it's all she can do not to sob, to curl up into herself and just let everything go.
Harry pulls her back onto the mattress and she molds herself to him, tangling their legs together and ducking her head into the crook of his neck that fits her so perfectly. His familiar scent calms and comforts her, and she knows that as long as she has him she's not alone. Sometimes she's just not sure that it's enough.
Neither of them mentions that it's been a year. A year since Ron and Ginny were killed and they may as well have died with them. The day before would have been both of their anniversaries and they spent it alone and trying to remember all the reasons why they had decided that they shouldn't stop fighting the inevitable and just get it over with already. Death had never been more appealing. The meager album of their wedding photos still sits open on the side table, and Hermione can just see the four of them waving ecstatically out the frame, the thrill of their elopement still fresh in their blood.
Hermione can still picture the way their bodies looked, broken and just so much red, red, blood. She'll never forgive herself for not being there with them, for convincing Harry to go house shopping with her of all things. She left her husband to die alone for a bloody house. Ron's wedding band around her neck is her self-imposed punishment, a reminder of how stiff his clenched fingers had been when she pulled it off. He hadn't even worn it a full day.
"Do you believe in Heaven? Do you think that's where they are?" Harry asks. He always seems to know what she's thinking. She gives the question the same deliberate thought that she does everything else, and she can only find one answer.
"I don't know where else they would be." Neither of them bother to speculate as to whether they'll make it there themselves. Echoes of tortured screams and the metallic tang of blood in the air still stand fresh in their memories. Their revenge was worth the price.
"Promise you won't leave me, Hermione. No matter what, it's you and me. Please promise me, please." Hermione promises, she always does. But she knows Harry better than she knows herself, and he doesn't intend to live through this war. She doesn't plan to either. She wonders who will break their promise first, and how long it will take the other to catch up.