This might be slightly depressing (it should be, anyway, if I've done it right)

When Hermione is sixteen she wishes she could se thestrals. When she's eighteen she wishes she couldn't.

It shouldn't come as a surprise, really, that she can see them now. That they all can. After everything that happened, after all the death and destruction. It makes sense. It's logical.

It still feels like a slap in the face.

The first time they discover that Harry is no longer the only one of them who sees the black animal, the newly-dubbed "Golden Trio" is making their way across the grounds of Hogwarts. It's been exactly four months since the battle of Hogwarts, and Hermione is returning to the school to finish her NEWT year. The boys, being the amazing friends and general sweethearts that they are, have insisted on dropping her off (and promised her over and over again that they'll visit as often as they possibly can).

They didn't join the welcoming feast, which had taken place the previous day. They didn't ride the Hogwarts express, and they didn't ask for a wagon to take them to school. The wounds are still too fresh, everything they've lost, all they've given up.

They are still grieving, and not just, Hermione thinks (though she doesn't voice her thoughts to the boys), because of the people that have died. They are grieving for the youth and the innocence that they gave up a little over a year ago, grieving for the loss of simplicity and carefree happiness and the general normalcy (or as normal as magic ever gets) of a childhood not marred by murder.

So yes, they are grieving, and greatly so. She doesn't remember the last time they have truly laughed, the last time she has seen Ron without a shadowed expression, or Harry without the guilt towards all who died in the battle weighing him down.

It was the right thing to do, she knows that. They know that. When they went after the horcruxes, when they battled at Hogwarts, even when they buried the dead. The choice to fight, for this world - their world - was the right one, and she doesn't regret it for a minute.

She needs to tell herself this to get through the day (and she tells the boys, too, sometimes, because she does believe that it was a good thing they did, and so do they, though it hurts all the same). They're all a bit broken now, she thinks sadly, and healing will take time.

She's secretly thankful that they delivered her to Hogwarts on this day. It's been exactly four months, and she honestly doesn't think she could face this place - this place where so much has happened, where they have gained and lost friendships and family - without the two people she cares most about in the entire world. It's tough on all of them, returning here. The memories have not faded - probably wont - and returning to this place is a battle in and on itself.

That's why, when she sees the thestral, her first instinct is to whip out her wand.

Harry and Ron - bless their hearts - don't even take a second to consider her actions. They have already drawn their own wands, gazes alert and flickering, not immediately noticing the tears that are gathering in her eyes, or the way her hand - usually so flawlessly steady- trembles with anxiety.

Harry notices first. He slowly lowers his wand, the sorrow on his face deepening (Hermione swears there are lines marring his young face, lines that shouldn't be there for years and years, should never be seen on the face of an eighteen year old boy).

"Hermione," he says, quietly, and she thinks she can hear the understanding in his voice, and remembers suddenly, reluctantly, that Harry was fourteen years old the first time he saw (and processed, for he had seen it before when he was one) someone die.

"I- I can't-" she chokes, and it's not the first time she's cried since the battle, not the first time she's felt the despair of the situation well up in her. It wont be the last either.

But then a gentle hand touches the wrist of her raised wand arm, and lowers it. She looks up, and sees that Ron, too, is looking sorrowfully at the thestral, tears glistening in his eyes. His arm goes around her then, and he clutches her to him, his head buried in her hair, and she can feel his body shaking with pent-up emotion. Another arm joins the one Ron has flung around her, and she can smell the unmistakable scent of something like grass and steel that signify her best friend, Harry Potter.

And it's horrible, all of it, and new, still, and it's not the last time they cry, not the last time any of them break down. But they do heal, eventually, the wounds, though they always have scars (many, many scars).

But they have each other. They have always had each other, through all that has happened to them through the years. Harry and Ron are her family, and, she knows, she's theirs.

It's selfish then, perhaps, that she feels a tiny glimmer of relief, at that moment in time. For when she looks at thestrals (now, and later) she will always be painfully reminded of all the people they have lost. Of Harry's parents, and Cedric Diggory and Sirius. Of Dumbledore and Remus, Tonks, and Colin Creevy. Of Dobby the houseelf who died for a friend. Of Fred Weasley who died laughing. And of all the hurt and destruction that the war left in it's wake.

But right then, she thinks, as tears stream down her face, she is relieved that they have survived, these two impossible boys that take up her heart.

(And she can't find it in her to regret their decisions).

Okay, so this is a bit messy. It's late and there's really nothing specific about this, except that I think most of the people who fought in the battle of Hogwarts would be able to see thestrals after the war. I mean, so many people died, it would've been nearly impossible not to see some of it.

Which, ultimately, is pretty horrible.

Anyway, I thought it was a neat (and quite sad) idea, and I don't think I did it justice in the slightest. I want to improve my writing though, and I think I might do it through one-shots like this one. Might just make this a series of un-connected one-shots about the Harry Potter characters (all of them, including marauders and next-gen, because why the hell not).

(If the above happens, I'm warning you. I'm a terrible sucker for anything Lily-James and Ron-Hermione).