My mind is made up. I will confront that witch tomorrow, and Merlin will it, I will find what we've both been looking for. Twenty years since the war, and still we're alone. All that remained after the last battle was rubble, but Hogwarts was rebuilt, just like the survivors had rebuilt their lives from the pieces shattered by loss and grief. Except for us. We're still holding on to our pain, building a wall around our hearts so high that won't let anybody close so we won't get hurt that badly again. My wall was built after Lily's death. Hermione's came later, but she still had dark circles under her eyes from sleepless nights, dreading to see Ron's face in his final moments of agony. She seemed numb since Ron's death, and her depression had distanced even Ginny, the last of her friends from the old days still alive. My last friend is dead too, but I at least have his portrait in my office to tell me I don't have to blame myself.

There was no light for either of us, but still it happened. She came into my office with the new lesson plans for her Arithmancy class. Our eyes met briefly, and we recognised each other's pain before looking away. We had a connection. I asked her to stay for a drink, hoping to get her to talk about her burdens, to maybe give her some closure. One bottle of firewhiskey later we were desperately trying to drown in each others' mouths, entangled limbs clutching with an intention to pour our hopelessness out into the world and replace it with a small measure of comfort.

Of course, the morning after would have been awkward, but Hermione had left before it could. I woke with the rare feeling of a smile on my face. Now my walls are up again and I fear for Hermione's. I cannot stand to see her suffer, to see her become what I have become. I need that feeling back, even for a brief moment. I will confront that witch tomorrow, and Merlin will it, I will find what we've both been looking for.