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A Winter's Talk

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Hermione walks into the woods toward the lake, toward a small oak tree, and a stark black stone standing a little bit away from the lake, tucked almost in a little grove of trees and rocks, semi protecting the small tree and the stone from the worst of the storms that happened. She wore black fitted jersey jeans, a black button-down, left untucked, a black sweater over that, and her beloved and favored leather jacket, word and clearly battled scared. On her feet were her steel-toed, glitter trimmed black combat boots, tied tight with black lace covered laces, her small nod to be a girly girl. There were leather straps that went up to her legs from inside of her boots, and on her hands, she wore her thin spiderwebbed gloves and her fingerless gloves over that. Her long wildly curly hair was down...a cloud of amber brown curls tossed in the wind... She carried a good-sized basket in one hand, and in the other a small Rosemary plant, with small blue-purple flowers beginning to show on it. She knew where she was going, as she had a habit... A clear sort of path through the woods to the small tree and the polished black stone that stood there, a testament to the memory of the man she had loved... Still loved and had lost. She wore the small silver ring with a lily on it on a chain around her neck, where it had stayed since she had buried him nearly five years prior.

She gets to the stone and sets the plant down first, then the basket, and pulls out a small, dark blue blanket and lays it on the ground in front of the stone. She takes out a small trowel and proceeds to dig a small hole and plants the rosemary plant there to the left of the stone, and then, sits down on the blanket, taking out a thermos, and sips, before she takes out a small cup and fills it with the cocoa from the thermos and places it on the stone’s front, and then sits back, proceeds to talk to Him, as if... He was sitting in front of her, and they were sharing a cup of cocoa, just the two of them, just like it had been before, in the forest of Dean.. before the battle... before he had beaten the big bad... before that bloody cancer had killed him only six months after.. nothing magic or Muggle could do to save the Boy who lived from that horrid curse called brain cancer.

“Hey. I know.. This is weird, me sitting here, drinking cocoa from a thermos, talking to your stone like you were here, but what can I say... I’ve never done the expected thing, why start now, right? I wanted to sit and catch up with you. I've been so busy I haven't had a chance to come and just... talk to you.“

She lets out a soft, almost broken sort of laugh as she breathes and keeps talking.

“It’s almost Yule, and Christmas, one of your favorite holidays I remember. We’re having the traditional Yule party in the Manor... Vintage Christmas. You’d love it. Sled rides and sweaters and snowmen cookies… candles on the tree… I got most of the presents bought and wrapped, a few are still escaping my hunt for such though, but I'll find the right ones. I always do. I mean, do you remember the stuffed rat I got Ron after third year? He loved that damn thing. I did finally get myself those glitter trimmed combat boots I’d been eyeing for like a year that you told me I should have just spoiled my self with. You were right… they are just a little over the top, but I like them. “

She sips, blinking, not even feeling the hot salty tears that slid down her cheeks as she talked to the stone.

“I have to visit Captain Mcgrumpy pants on Yule proper. He promised to keep his wife under control, but we shall see. You remember how much she likes to give me shit, and it's only gotten worse since.. since you died. I leave Friday night at midnight again and hopefully will return before Yule ends here. He misses me, and to be honest, it been incredibly hard to be there. I mean I'm glad to know he's happy, but it’s hard to believe Ron married Daphne Greengrass, and they have two kids now. They named their eldest son, Harry Arthur, after you, but you know that. “

She pushes some of her hair off her face and keeps going, sipping her cocoa, struggling a bit to keep talking.

“ My housemates are okay. You know I ended up moving into the redone manor a while back after my building went co cop. Draco had the entire place redone and torn out that.. room, literally removed it so I would never have to see it again. There are perks there, such as having full access to the library and all those books and the bonus of Lucius knowing a muggle-born is living there. granted I think that may a part of the reason Draco wanted me to move in, other than to help him with his son, now that Astoria has passed. Theodore Nott lives there too. He sold his manor shortly before you passed, and spent some time overseas, but now he's back, and one of us in the house.

Draco just got over a bad cold a few weeks ago, and Theo is getting over one too I think. Draco's son, Scorpius, he's so freaking cute. He looks like a mini Draco, flying around on this toy broom Theo gave him for his birthday a few weeks ago. It only goes a few feet off the ground but it scares me every time. Every time he gets upset and goes "I'm telling daddy" I crack up, cause it reminds me of Draco, going "wait til my father hears about this' back in school. he's super smart, and so serious since his mother's pasted."

She swallowed, and takes a bigger drink of the warming cocoa, tasting the cinnamon in the cocoa as she keeps talking.

" They’ve been taking care of me, making sure I remember to eat and drink something. I know they aren’t who You wanted to be in charge of my well being when you were gone but we both know that ship has sailed and sunk now, both of them in fact, but you know me, Love, I keep going forward, as if I had any choice in the matter. You'd get a kick out of them, with Draco leaving me messages like ” Eat something, you dork” in the kitchen. Theo tends to just make something, or gets a house-elf to and stick a post-it on it saying” eat me”. I don’t always do it, but I know you appreciate someone making sure I’m okay. They have been known to kidnap me from the Ministry to make go outside and eat. Draco prefers to call Pansy and have her take me shopping for clothes, as she says it's past time I stop wearing, and I quote, ' shapeless, baggy, worn-out mourning clothes like some muggle bag lady.'

I went on a date… of sorts, I guess you could say... Theo asked and we went driving around and looked at Christmas lights and ate snacks I had brought. You remember how much I enjoy the twinkling lights and the different ways people use them to decorate for the holidays. He was a perfect gentleman, Harry. He kissed my cheek at the end of the night, told me I was prettier than the lights. It was sweet to just hear someone say something nice about me.

I got totally razzed the day after... when the gang heard I had gone out with him. Neville asked if I brought a chaperone, which Hannah, bless her, smacked him and told him not to be a bloody git. Ron and George implied that other things had happened... cause why else would anyone drive around and look at Christmas lights. And of course, Ginny hummed that tune again. you know the tune she hummed every single time you and I held hands.. the one that made us laugh back then. It shouldn’t have bugged me..but it did. It made me think of you and my chest started hurting all over again. She and Luna are really happy By the way and were discussing adopting a baby even. “

Hermione had started crying steadily but did not seem to even notice the tears soaking the edge of her sweater as they hit it, repeatedly, drop by hot salty drop, as she cleared her throat and kept going.

“It’s not been easy, living the past five years without you by my side cause there are days ..I forget you’re gone til I smell someone wearing your aftershave, and I feel that sharp pang in my chest, or.. I hear one of our songs on the radio and it.. all rushes back in to smack me in the right in the face, and suddenly it’s... Like it all just happened again, and then... I’m just trying to remember to breathe, to.. Put one foot in front of the other. That, You, with all the mistakes we made… your secrets… the others you hid from me, I know that You loved me, that even now, You are apart of who I am. I mean..I still carry your shadow on my ribcage. I still have flashes of rages of blind anger over what you hid... And that you left me, even if you had no choice in the matter, it still feels as if... Someone is ripping my heart out of my chest with a bloody spoon. I hate that we fought so hard..that you met your destiny..killed the bad guy and yet.. you're gone. All because of some damn mutated cells decided to kill you."

She paused as if she was remembering something and spoke, again.

They are naming the park in Hogsmeade after you. they are calling it Potter Park. They want me to be there when they open in the spring. Draco and Theo both think I should do it, but I've done what I can to fade out of the public eye."

She took a breathe, knowing she needed to say what she actually came here to say, before she ran out of time.

" I want to be able to date again Harry, to.. Be happy and laugh, maybe,... who knows... To possibly have that happy ever after that so many around me seem to be able to have. I… don’t want to replace You Harry, cause... Honestly, no one can, or could. I … guess I’m asking You, as silly as it sounds… do I have Your permission, your blessing to try to be happy without You?”

She asks, still crying, her face blotchy from the tears as Hermione is not a pretty crier.

Long minutes pass and she sits there, crying still, till she finally stands up, moving as if she’s 120 years old, and kisses the top of the stone after she wiped it off with a wet wipe from her pocket, whispering; “ I really fucking miss You. I feel like I’m missing a limb. I miss you so damn much.”

She empties the mug and places it in the basket with the thermos, and the blanket, dusting off her ass before turning to face the stone again, pushing away the tears remaining-

“I love you, Harry. I always have, and I always will. I miss you. I’ll visit you again soon. I promise.”

She turned and walked toward home, each step she focused on pulling herself together again, hiding her emotions behind that cold, chilly utterly polite mask she wears to help make others feel as if everything is okay with her. Her resting ice bitch face she called it, taking some of what someone had called her public politeness once. Not because she’s trying to pretend to care, but right now to try to pretend she’s not breaking apart again. Draco and Theo are waiting, knowing the witch will need them, to remember she’s not utterly alone anymore.

The snow begins to fall.

~ the end~