Chapter 1 : Hermione
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From the next room over the clinks of fork on plate, the gentle murmur of conversation. It was a wave across space, parting ways as it reached her. Her mind recoiled from its probing. Tomorrow was, and always is, another day.
It was mild out. She closed her eyes, reaching into the soap dish, wanting something to hold. It was nothing, in the face of logic, to worry. And even after all these years of safety--but she wouldn’t. Not now. Not for the hours remaining. It was still, and this was hers.
It was a togethercoloured moment, and it was easy to surrender to the warmth of the evening, a balmy, comfortable silence, heavy, settling into her pores as if molded to fit there all along.
Hermione tossed the lemon-coloured soap from hand to hand, and it slipped deftly between her fingers, landing with a soft thud at the bottom of the porcelain basin. The woody scrape of a chair pushing back wafted into the kitchen and she quickly wiped her hands.
There was a moment that extended in space, shooting towards the corners of the room, and it suspended everything; she turned slowly, cutting through dense air, wanting this to last forever with a desperation that ate at her throat, cut at her lungs, formed her fingers into aquiline claws. It was too quick to take a breath.
His head was tilted, inquisitive, his bright green eyes shining with an intelligence so often muddied by his struggle to understand the pulse of a social pattern. He stood in the doorway, a single reed in a field of grass, and she pressed her face clean as her mind echoed the single, the spiteful, the forbidden word: favourite.
It was her hair and the eyes of his grandmother's father--Ron's elbows and skinny knees, Ron's shoulders, Ron's nose, her own olive-toned complexion. He was all of them; he was something like a promise. Two people could be something like the same.
The single word settled him--his shoulders relaxed and the atmosphere melted, easy again. Hermione turned back to the window. The sun was a white bowl over the hills in the distance.
"Are you coming to tea?"
She paused a moment, closed her eyes. Took a deep breath. All of this was now. Now. Now. The pulse of the earth was steady around her.
She turned back. Her own heart refuted a steady rhythm. Hugo was watching her, an innocent confusion muting the sparkle in his face, the lively shine.
She pulled the air towards her, fit it on like a great cape, and thought that maybe in the sunshine of this last day of him being completely and forever hers, she could be brave.