Content Notes/Warnings: Contains definite spoilers for Book Seven, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. I think there may also be a spoiler from Book 6.
Summary: The war is over and the wizarding world is struggling to rebuild. This is a series of ficlets that explore the aftermath from the point of view of all the mothers who survived - and one who didn't.
Author's Notes: Written for Ladies Big Bang. This story has been in the works for a few years now, but it's finally finished, with just a few extra ficlets added to make the required 10,000 words.
The war was over. The storm of turmoil and strife had finally passed through, leaving behind a wake of tattered lives filled with grief and celebrations. The survivors buried their dead, built memorials and found solace in the peace that followed.
And peace had come to the wizarding world again, spreading far and wide as news of Voldemort's death traveled across the country. Children played and adults conversed amongst themselves as the sun shone on the wizarding world. The rays of light broke through the gloom that shrouded the land, lending brilliance to the atmosphere as the witches and wizards reveled in their freedom again. Flowers dotted the hills of the countryside and grew wild along the banks of rivers. They lined the cobbled street in Diagon Alley and adorned tables in the homes. Windows were thrown open to let in the cool breeze, no longer shuttered against the storm of terror that covered the land. Gone were the days of fear and suspicions, betrayals and lies. The world was theirs again.
Yet the scars ran deep. The war changed everyone and the people affected most by Voldemort's reign of terror struggled daily with their efforts to heal. The Muggleborn worked to rebuild their lives after being torn from their families, while everyone struggled to rebuild their faith in neighbors and friends. No one had been spared from the terror that spread over their society, not even the children. Many died, leaving behind a legacy of bravery, courage and loyalty, as well as tears as their families grieved. Theirs was a legacy of stories and legends that sprung from the ashes of the battles, small consolation to the mothers and grandmothers who fought their own battles despite the uncertain future looming in the distance like an oncoming storm.
This is the story of those women who overcame the trials set before them and, just as importantly, found the strength to move on.
"Swear allegiance to the flag
Whatever flag they offer
Never hint at what you really feel."
- Silent Running
Words by Mike Rutherford and Bryan Robertson
Part 1 - Monica
Rain fell on her little garden, splashing along the leaves and flowers, and pelting the ground with little plops of sound. She stood at the back door, staring out in the garden with a feeling of peace and contentment. This was her home now.
Thunder rolled in the distance as the wind swept across the ground and crept through the screen in the door, bringing in the smell of rain and damp earth. Monica reveled in the storm, loving how the colors of her flowers seemed to pop out at her through the gloom of gray, cloudy skies. She had spent hours working in her garden over the past year, planting and weeding, hoping for something that she could be proud of. The greens, blues and reds that burst from the ground in a colorful array of motion eased her fears on that score. Her flowers turned out beautifully.
A feeling of accomplishment washed over her at that thought. Despite the hardships she and her husband, Wendell, faced when they first moved to Australia to fulfill a lifelong dream, they had persevered to overcome the obstacles of starting anew and had been so happy over the past year. Her life seemed complete.
Well, almost complete. A flash of lightning cut through the sky, as she thought about her life. They had left everything behind when they decided to make the move, bringing with them only their clothes and some of the furnishings. It had been important for them to leave as soon as they could, although to this day, she wasn't completely sure why. Still, they packed up and moved, and eventually made a new life for themselves. She shivered as the wind picked up and she pulled the edges of her sweater over her body to ward off the chill. Despite her happiness in their new life, something was missing.
The rain continued to pour down over the flowers that she had carefully nurtured, the sight of which now seemed to mock her. Her gaze moved toward the sky, staring out at nothing as she tried to find the reason for the emptiness she still felt whenever her hands and thoughts were idle. She searched her memories in vain, looking for that elusive something that she missed so desperately, even as she entertained the thought that she was just being silly.
Sadness still engulfed her when she turned to see Wendell standing in the doorway, but she smiled at him in an effort to hide her fears. He always scoffed at her whenever she approached the subject that she was contemplating. No need to bring it up yet again.
"I'm heading off to the shops," he said. "Do you need anything?"
"No. I'm all set."
"You sure?" She nodded, then smiled at him again when he gave her a wary look. He knew her too well, and she hoped he wouldn't push the subject. He nodded back, then turned to leave, saying, "Okay then. I'll be back soon."
She turned to stare out at the garden once again, but her mood had diminished somewhat. She supposed that everyone had their demons, Monica wished that she could have left hers behind.
A knock on the door a few minutes later gave her a start and a reason to think of other things. She hurried through the house to the front door, curiosity taking over when she found three strangers standing on her porch. Two men and a woman, the latter of which was smiling broadly at her.
"Mum!" the young woman cried out, her expression filled with happiness. Monica's thoughts were now swirling with confusion as she stared at the strangers. She didn't have any children. Not that she was aware of anyway. Surely they had the wrong place.
"I'm sorry..." she said, hoping to ease the way for them. The woman's expression crumbled, but she turned away, mumbling something that sounded suspiciously like, "I forgot...," a few more words, then an explosion of thoughts, memories and flashes of images raced through Monica's mind. She stumbled back a few steps, her eyes widening as she realized that the girl standing in front of her really was her child.
"Oh my God," she muttered, as the visions of a distant past continued to flow through her thoughts. "Oh my God. Hermione."
Hermione nodded and smiled at her. "Hello Mum."
Monica shook her head and put her hand over her mouth, still trying to understand the whirlwind of memories that swirled around in her head. "What... I don't understand." She shook her head, as the recollections of both lives settled down, leaving her angry and upset. How could she have forgotten her own daughter?
"Mum?" The hopeful expression on Hermione's face seemed almost as a forewarning. "I can explain."
"You did this?"
The guilty look on her daughter's face fueled the anger that continued to rage in Monica's heart, but Hermione was determined to tell her side of the story.
"You and Dad were in danger, Mum. I had to protect you."
"Protect me?" Hermione nodded, while Monica tried to calm down. "Don't you understand what you've done?" Hermione didn't respond, just stood there with tears glistening in her eyes. "We gave up everything to come here." She shook her head again as stared at her only daughter. "All this time... I didn't know you even existed." Monica was crying now and she turned her back to wipe the tears away, wondering how she could have been so gullible.
"She had to do it," one of Hermione's companions said, "Don't you see? You were in danger. He would have killed you to get to her."
"You're not helping, Ronald," Hermione said sharply. Monica smiled at that. Her daughter always was a no nonsense type of person.
"Mum, please," Hermione said. "Please try to understand." Monica nodded, her anger finally cooling, although she was still a little upset. But Hermione tried one more time. "I couldn't bear to lose you and Dad," she said. "Not permanently." Monica turned to face her and held out her arms, giving in to the overwhelming urge to hold her daughter and never let go. Hermione came willingly. "I love you so much, Mum," she said through her own tears. "I had to do something. I couldn't let them hurt you."
Monica hugged her tightly and told her, "You have no idea what I went through, Hermione. The emptiness I couldn't shake off was so hard. I hated that feeling."
"I know, but... it was just as hard on me." Monica held her tighter as Hermione said, "I hated that you didn't recognize me."
Monica didn't respond. It had been hard on both of them, but she couldn't shake the memory of all those times she thought she was going crazy. Still, her daughter was with her now, filling in the gaping hole in her life. Things could have been worse.
She pulled back from her daughter to face her husband, who was standing there looking from one person in the yard to the next, his expression wary and guarded.
"Wendell! Look who came home..."
He turned to look at her as Hermione muttered something that Monica couldn't quite catch. But she knew, and she watched as her husband went through the same thing she experienced a few moments ago. His eyes widened as he stood there, almost transfixed as he processed his own memories.
Hermione breathed a sigh of relief and went straight into his arms, hugging him tightly. Monica smiled at her family, glad that Wendell took the news better than she did. She caught the eye of Hermione's friends and nodded a greeting. Ron smiled back at her, while Harry nodded his own head. She wondered why they came with Hermione when they never had before, but she didn't get the chance to ask.
"What happened?" Wendell had finally come to the realization that they'd been duped and had launched into his own interrogation. "How could I have forgotten all about you?"
Hermione went back on the defensive. Monica knew her daughter better than anyone and she watched as Hermione stole a glance at her friends, then back at her father. "I had no choice," she said in a rush. "I only wanted to protect you."
"By tricking us?"
"No. No, Dad, that's not what happened. Mum," she said with a pleading look to Monica, who didn't fall for it. "Please. You have to understand that it was too dangerous for you to remain in London." She turned back to her father, and grabbed his hands. "I had no choice."
"She's right, you know," her friend Ron said in a helpful tone then yelped when his friend Harry punched him in the arm and gave him a pointed look.
Ron shrugged and said, "What? I was just trying to help."
Harry rolled his eyes at Hermione, who smiled fondly at them both.
"You tricked us Hermione," Wendell told her, apparently wanting to get his point across. He grasped her hands and said, "You used magic against us."
"I know," she whispered. She looked so sad, so lost that Monica couldn't stay mad at her. She went over and pulled her daughter into a hug. A feeling of completeness washed over her when Wendell put his arms around both of them.
She opened her eyes and noticed the roses that bordered the base of her home. Lush reds and yellows that had been so important to her were interspersed with the tiny blue flowers she had planted when she first moved into the house.
Wendell pulled back and Monica smiled at their daughter again to let her know all was well. But she didn't follow them into the house right away. She stared, instead, at the flowers that were mixed in with the roses, wondering at the irony of it all.
It wasn't worth mulling over, she decided as she followed her family into the house. But deep in her heart she knew she would always wonder why she had chosen to plant forget-me-nots in with the roses she loved so much.