"How is she?" Harry asked when Snape returned with the last Portkey. Only he, Ron, and Krum remained as Goyle had been taken to the Ministry with the other Portkey. "She's in the spare room at your house, crying," Snape said. For perhaps the first time, he was addressing Harry without any discernible trace of sarcasm or malice. He sounded tired. No, worse than tired, as if he was reliving an old nightmare of his own. "She really did love him then," Ron said, looking out into the growing darkness of the night. Rain was still falling, turning the dirt that covered the floor of the cavern into mud. Harry nodded duly. Ron had been more than reluctant to accept that particular truth, but apparently he believed it now. "Should someone be vaching her?" Krum asked. "No," Snape said. "Alone, she is free to mourn and rage as she wishes, as she needs to. Besides, she isn't going to do anything…desperate. She would only do that if she believed that she had nothing else to live for, and Hermione still has her sons. She knows that Draco would have wanted them to live and be loved, so she will live for that if for nothing else." Why did it sound like the man was speaking from personal experience? Harry sighed, leaning back against the wall of the cave. He felt like a failure. He had done everything he possibly could, he had defeated Voldemort, only for one of the people that meant the most to him to be hurt in the deepest way she could be hurt. Hurt because a father had killed his only son. It didn't make any sense. It wasn't fair. There was supposed to be a happy ending after Voldemort died, not another widow and more fatherless children. 'Well,' Harry had to admit to himself, 'maybe not widowed and fatherless for long.' He looked up at Ron and Krum, suspecting that either of them would be more than happy to fulfill the role of the man in Hermione's life. Once she recovered from Draco's death, of course. Right now, the two of them were staring out into the darkness. "Hermione will be wanting a proper funeral. We should be looking for the body," Ron finally said. Krum nodded. "I'll go get ve brooms, and then ve can start searching," he said before starting up the stairs. ……………………….. "With Love, Your Mother" Hermione put her quill down, studying what she had written. After she was sure that the ink was completely dry, she gathered up the pages that contained so many memories and tears. She sealed them in an envelope, and looked up at the clock. She had spent no more than a few hours on her activity, and she did not really feel much better than she had when she started. It was late, time to go to bed now, but she knew that she would only lie there awake staring at the ceiling for hours no matter how exhausted she was. She was contemplating going to bed anyway when she heard someone knock on her door. "Hermione, are you decent? It's Ron, I need to see you for a second," she heard. "Coming," she replied, getting out of the chair to go to the door. At any rate, this could be something she could use to postpone going to bed. When she opened to the door Ron was there, smiling. That was puzzling; he knew that she was in no mood for felicitations to say the least. "Hermione, I found something of yours," he said, "and in better condition than I expected to find it." She swung the door open wider to reveal another man standing beside Ron. His robes were still covered in dried mud and blood, though they had been cut off around one arm where a clean bandage had been applied. There was another bandage around his temple, but there was no mistaking the blond hair that stuck out around it; there was no mistaking his gray eyes. There was no mistaking his face. Hermione made a noise in her throat that was half sob, half giggle, unable to speak. She didn't notice Ron remove himself to elsewhere; the only person she saw was her husband. Alive. "Hermione," Draco said tentatively. She flung her arms around him, loosening her grip when he grunted. Maybe his ribs were a little bruised. He put his good arm around her and, holding her as tightly as he dared, kissed her. …………. Ron walked outside, strolling slowly from the light of one lamppost into another. He looked up to see shooting stars--shooting stars that were clearly visible in spite of the fact that the sky was cloudy and the lights of London normally drowned out such displays anyway. Apparently the fireworks were already beginning. Well, there would be more fireworks now, just not the kind that lit up the night sky for all to see. They had looked, expecting only to find Draco's body, and that only if they were lucky. But he knew that Hermione would have wanted that, if only so she could have a proper funeral held. Ron had not expected to find Draco caught in the branches of a tree that clung to the wall of the cliff--unconscious, injured, but still alive. A quick stop at St. Mungo's had been all that was necessary, quick enough that they would have been done before Hermione had received an owl to tell her that her husband was alive, and then they had gone to surprise her. For the hours spent while he had been searching, Ron had been envisioning a future he had longed for so long. Hermione was free of her marriage, and Ron Weasley could be there as a friend to comfort her in her grief, and maybe be there as more than a friend after some time went by. And, of course, her sons would need a father. He would be more than happy to fulfill that role; he would love them as if they had been his own sons. Ron had always loved Hermione, and this was his golden opportunity to prove how much he cared for her. For a few glorious hours he had thought that all of his dreams could still come true. But that future had vanished when he realized that Draco was still breathing. After that, well…there was only one thing he could do. It had been worth it though, if only to see the look on her face, knowing that he had helped put it there. It had been like…a flower bud opening in response to the sun to become the most beautiful blossom in the world, but happening in a fraction of a second. He had not been the total cause of it, but he knew that he would burn the world and use his soul for tinder if it would put that look on Hermione's face. Ron kicked a pebble out of his pathway into the gutter as he walked, not really caring where he was going. Well, things were over now. The world had been saved, his best friend had defeated his nemesis and was alive, and the woman he loved was happy. He smiled to himself as a soft rain began to fall; he could live with that. The End
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