Chapter 1 : Half Alive
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Please don't tell me you know how I feel, Unless you have lost your child too. Please don't tell me my broken heart will heal, Because that is just not true. Please don't tell me my son is in a better place, because I want him here with me.
-Judi Walker (In memory of Shane)
The coming morning brought with it a vibrant sunrise, speckled with hues of rosy fuchsias, rich lavenders, and warm gold creams over the trees. Everything, it seemed, was at peace as the twinkling ebony sky faded with the rising sun. Birds hummed through the forests and over the wheat fields, whistling their harmonized melodies as their wings propelled their tiny bodies through the leaves. A mother deer and her baby fawn grazed calmly in a clearing, while the sparrows plucked the berries from the damp juniper bushes. Twisting in the light, a soft breeze wove intricate patterns through over the woods, across the still lakes, and over the golden fields.
Nestled a quiet clearing, the Zabini Manor sat elegantly between the emerald pines. A cobblestone drive wove through the woods, and opened to a large expanse of land. Soft, sage green grass covered the grounds, meeting with the ancient vines that covered great areas of the house. Behind manor, a capacious garden swirled over the landscape, littered with hundreds of species of flowers, bushes, and trees. Each was damp with the morning dew on their leaves and petals, causing them to glitter in the sunlight.
Within the house, silence was settled over the halls, and through the elegant rooms. The portraits slept with their heads resting on their hands, or on their fellow paintings, and the house elves lay dormant in their tiny beds. On his cushion bed in the massive living room, the snoozing retriever stretched over the maroon silk, with his paws dangling over the sides.
And up the winding marble staircase, and down the opulent hall, the enormous master bedroom was at the end of the corridor. Two large mahogany double doors were propped open and leading into the elegant room. A massive king bed was set against the left wall, covered with rich fabrics, and a hunter green bed spread. A small sitting area with a sofa and two arm chairs sat at the end of the bed, and further, ornate dressers and a vanity lined the walls. On the wall across from the doors, an enormous bay window stretched from the ceiling to the floor. Maroon curtains with golden tassels were pinned back to allow the warm morning sun to shine through. On the bed, one of the two figures under the covers began to stir.
The shining beams of sunlight warmed Blaise Zabini’s face as he slowly drifted out of his sleep. As he yawned, he stretched his arms up over his head. He sighed as he rubbed his eyes, and squinted as the beams of sun blinded him momentarily. After yawning once again, he ran his fingertips against the rough stubble on his chin. Blaise pushed himself up further on the bed to survey his wife beside him. Hermione was lying on her side, facing the morning sun streaming from the bay window, and her head was resting on her bent arm. Blaise sighed as he caught a glimpse of her face, which told him that she was also awake.
Hermione’s golden curls were strewn gracefully over her satin pillow, reflecting in the beams of light, and her pale silk nightgown lay loosely on her soft shoulders. Her rich brown eyes stared blankly into the distance towards the window, and they seemed cold and lifeless. She had darkened circles forming under her eyelids, and the skin around her lashes appeared to be red and puffy. On her pale skin, streams of dried tears ran down her face.
Blaise’s heart sunk in his chest at the mere sight of her. He gingerly placed a comforting hand on her bare shoulder as he leaned over and gazed into her pained eyes. In response, she gently lifted one of her hands, and placed it on his, but her eyes never left their position. Blaise then tucked a coiled tendril of her hair behind one of her ears, and softly kissed her cheek. This time, Hermione’s blank eyes met his, and she gave him a small smile, which failed to match her expression. Blaise squeezed his wife’s hand, and after another quick kiss on her cheek, he moved to his side of the bed and threw his legs over the side. After one more stretch of his arms behind his head, Blaise stood and reached for his crimson robe on the chair beside him. Once he had pulled the fabric over his shoulders, he made his way out of the door.
The manor was very calming in the morning light, and very peaceful. Blaise rubbed his neck as he walked down the elegant staircase, and through the hall towards the living room. He smiled as he eyed his dog sprawled out on his bed. At the sound of his footsteps, the retriever pushed himself up, and began to wag his tail.
“Good morning Ralph,” said Blaise warmly as the dog rubbed against his legs, and licked his hand. He lowered himself onto his knees to reach behind Ralph’s floppy ears
“C’mon boy, we’ve got to make some coffee for Hermione,” Blaise whispered excitedly. The dog wagged his tail quicker as Blaise stood, and patted him on the head. As he made his way towards the kitchen, Ralph followed at Blaise’s feet.
Once the two had entered the kitchen, which faced the gardens, Blaise opened one of the cabinets to grab Hermione’s favorite mug. He then readied the coffee maker, and pushed the button to grind up the beans. Ralph sat patiently beside him.
“Don’t worry, Ralph. I’ll take you out after this.”
After the coffee was finished, Blaise gently poured the steaming liquid into the mug, and closed the coffee maker. After motioning to the dog, Blaise began the walk back up towards his bedroom. Once they had reached the double doors, Ralph followed Blaise as he walked to Hermione’s still figure on her side of the bed.
Blaise held the steaming mug up to her nose, and then placed it on the table beside her. She flashed him another small smile, but made no attempt to reach for the coffee, and kept her blank stare on the window. As Blaise lowered himself on the edge of the bed beside her, he watched as Ralph placed his big paws on the bed beside Hermione’s arm, and nuzzled his face into the mattress as he wagged his tail, waiting for Hermione to pet him. She slowly lifted her free arm to pat him on the head, but quickly returned to the position that she was in. Ralph fell to an impatient sitting position on the floor as he whined. Blaise sighed aloud once more as he sadly glanced at their dog, and back at Hermione. He touched his fingertips against her face, trying to bring her eyes to his. Her lifeless eyes met Blaise’s, and he smiled comfortingly as he gently caressed her face. Then, he motioned to the door with his head. Hermione then glanced away from him for a few moments, and then responded with a shake of her head. Knowing her answer, Blaise kissed her cheek again and exited the room. This time, he made his way to his office, and pulled out a piece of parchment, and began to write his message to the ministry.
This would mark the second week that Hermione had stayed home from work. He explained in his letter that she still wasn’t well, and still needed more time to recover. Blaise also mentioned that he would be staying home with her today, to keep her company. After writing out his message, he dispatched an owl, and made his way back to his room. He walked into his grand closet, and changed from his pajamas into comfortable slacks and a sweater. After a quick brushing of his teeth, he walked back into his room, and went over to his wife one more time. She was still in the same position, except this time, her eyes were closed.
Blaise smiled as he pulled the covers on top of her. He eyed around the room until he spotted Ralph lying on the couch at the foot of his bed.
“Let’s go for a walk,” he whispered as he hooked the leather leash onto his red collar. After throwing a glance at his wife, he left the room.
As Blaise closed the massive front door, he stood still as he breathed in the fresh morning air. The trees stood with their leafy green hues around him, and the birds chirped through the thicket. The two continued down the drive, and finally reached the grassy fields that stood at the edge of the cobblestone drive.
His mind raced as they continued down the road. Due to his position of the ministry board, he was allowed to take such work days, especially if his wife was in need of care. And since Hermione was an assistant to the Minister of Magic, the minister had told Blaise that if was completely acceptable for Hermione to take as many days as she wanted to recover. Blaise absentmindedly twisted his wedding ring around his finger.
They had met at the ministry all those years ago. Hermione was a young, determined official who had thrown herself into her job after her nasty and very public breakup with Ron Weasley. Blaise was also young and motivated, but had failed to find that person who he would share himself with. After the two had been paired on an assignment, there was an instant connection. It was her outgoing personality, her wit, and her beauty among many things that won him over. They became inseparable, and had quickly fallen for one another. After two years together, Blaise proposed, and they were married. His life was now complete.
Blaise led Ralph to a small patch of grass on the other side of the road, and lowered himself onto the ground. He pulled his knees closer to his chest as Ralph sniffed the air beside him, and closed his eyes.
It killed him to see Hermione like this. She seemed to only be a mere memory of her old vivacious self. Hermione had barely talked, barely ate, and barely slept for the past two and a half weeks. She had no desire to work the job that she loved, and spent most of her time in bed, and would barely move. Of course what had happened murdered him every day too, but Hermione had put the blame on herself for what happened. No matter how many times he told her that she was in no way responsible, she brushed him off.
He sat in the grass for a while, lost in memories and thoughts. But after a while, he decided to get back home to Hermione. He slowly stood, and pulled Ralph away from a scent that he had discovered. The two walked back towards the manor, and up the cobblestone drive. Blaise grabbed Ralph’s leash to stop him when he noticed someone standing at the front door.
Once they got closer, he was relieved when he saw who it was.
“Hi Ginny,” he said warmly as he walked up the stairs to meet her at the front door.
She spun around in surprise.
“Oh, hi Blaise,” she said as the bent over to pet the dog.
“You were on a walk?”
“Yeah. It’s such a nice day out. You haven’t been standing outside very long have you?’
She shook her head.
“No, I was just about to knock when I saw you. I’m actually on my way to my parent’s house, and I decided to drop by see how you two were doing.”
There was a dead pause, and Ginny readjusted her purse on her arm.
“So she didn’t walk with you?”
“No, she didn’t. She has barely left her bed in weeks.”
Ginny’s expression became somber.
“How is she?”
Blaise softly kicked a pebble off the walk way.
“She’s the same. I wish I could tell you that she’s getting better, but she just isn’t. I really don’t know what to do.”
“Hermione needs time, Blaise. This is a wound that needs time to heal.”
There was another pause.
“Could I try talking to her?”
Blaise shook his head.
“She barely talks to me, Ginny. I don’t think it would do any good.”
Ginny nodded in agreement, and then reached inside her purse.
“Oh, I almost forgot. I baked some muffins for you. You know, some good homemade cooking.”
Blaise smiled as he took the package.
“Thanks Ginny. These will taste great.
Blaise stared blankly out into the woods, and Ginny followed his gaze. She then placed a hand on his shoulder.
“I’m so sorry Blaise. I can’t imagine the pain you both are going through.”
He sighed as he closed his eyes in pain.
“It’s been very difficult.”
Ginny squeezed his shoulder tighter.
“No parent should have to go through this. No one.”
“But we are, Ginny. And it’s the worst thing I’ve ever experienced.”
Ginny took him in an embrace.
“Harry and I are always here for you and Hermione, always. Let me know if there’s anything else I can do.”
She released him, and gave him a comforting look.
“Well, my mum is probably looking for me. I better go.”
She smiled once more and began to walk down the stairs. Then, she turned around.
“Tell Hermione I said hi,” she said.
Blaise softly smiled.
“I will Ginny.”
After waving goodbye, she disappeared with a crack.
Blaise stood watching the spot she had left for a few moments, taking in her words. He then looked at the array of muffins in the package, and decided to see it Hermione would feel up to eating one of them. He pulled open the door, and dragged Ralph inside.
“Go lay down,” Blaise gently commanded as he pointed in the direction of the living room.
Ralph obeyed, and pranced off in the direction of his bed. Blaise then closed the doors behind him, and began to walk up the stairs to his bedroom. After walking down the hall to the entrance to the room, he paused. Blaise sighed as he stood at the door. It was like a dagger in his heart every time he saw her life this. After composing himself, he pushed open the doors.
He was about to greet Hermione when he stopped with a halt. She wasn’t in bed. Blaise raced towards the master closet, and in the bathroom, but there was no sign of her. He paused as he stopped by the bed. Then the thought hit him, causing his stomach to drop. He knew exactly where she would be. Blaise quickly left the room, and turned from the entrance. His breathing was hurried as he paced down the hall towards the open door on his right. He was soon there.
He stood in the doorway of the smaller room, and instantly spotted Hermione sitting on the tiny bed, facing the window. Blaise clenched his lips together as he glanced around the memory filled room that he had avoided since the accident.
The room hadn’t changed a bit. The same pale blue hue covered the walls, the train set and stuffed animals lined the floor, the rocking horse lay still in the corner, and the dinosaur themed bed-spread lay unwrinkled in the tiny bed. The books he used to read for a bedtime story stood stacked on their shelves, the building blocks lay organized by color beside the bed, and the tiny sweaters and pants lined the racks in the open closet. Blaise closed his eyelids to hold back the tears from trickling down his cheeks.
It had been a little more than two weeks since they had lost their son, Riley. He was their only son, their only child, and he had just turned four last month. His life was so utterly empty without his little son prancing through the halls clutching his teddy bear, and his childish laughter that filling the rooms. He had brought so much joy and happiness into both of their lives, and it had vanished in second. Losing him had torn his world into pieces.
His death had been an accident. A horrific accident. Hermione had taken Riley into London for the day, on a shopping trip to search for a birthday present for her mother. They had weaved in and out of department stores and tiny shops, looking for a perfect gift to give his grandma. Later in the afternoon, they had drifted into a toy store, where Hermione had bought him an orange ball to occupy him while she shopped. On their way back home, Hermione held his tiny hand as they waited for the crosswalk sign to allow them to walk forward. Suddenly, Riley dropped his ball in his hand, and it slowly rolled out into the busy street. Before Hermione knew what was happening, he had released her hand and rushed out into the intersection to grab it. She screamed as she began to chase after him, but it was too late. The sedan didn’t even see him coming. Hermione had cradled his tiny body in her arms as she sobbed, and then rushed him to St. Mungo’s to see if they could to anything to save him. But nothing could be done; he had been killed instantly. Blaise was at work when he discovered the news, and he immediately rushed to the hospital, to find Hermione hysterical, and sobbing while the healers attempted to comfort her. It felt like part of him had died that day.
His funeral was the following weekend, and they had buried him in the cemetery beneath a peaceful willow tree. They had visited the following few days, but then, it had become too much to bear.
Blaise leaned against the doorframe for support as he watched his wife sit on the bed silently in front of him. He then slowly stepped into the room, and walked towards Hermione. Blaise gently sat on the bed beside her and gazed at her solemn face. Her stare was blank and lifeless, but this time, Blaise noticed that fresh tears had been spilling down her face.
Hermione had blamed herself for everything. She considered it her fault that she wasn’t paying close enough attention, or that she shouldn’t have even taken him into London that day. Blaise had assured her countless times that it was a mere accident, but she never seemed to believe him.
Blaise then lifted a hand to cup one side of her face, and pulled it towards his. Her spiritless eyes looked sadly into his, and her lips began to tremble. He pulled her towards him as the tears began to trickle from her face. He clutched her close to him as she buried her face into his chest. Suddenly, she began to sob. Her chest heaved as she frantically cried into Blaise. A few tears escaped from his hold as her screams pierced his heart. He buried his face into her golden curls as he softly began to cry. After holding in his pain for so long, it was the first time that he released any emotion.
They wept into each other’s arms for some time, shedding any feelings that they had kept pent up for weeks. Hermione clenched him close to her, and Blaise never let her go. He had missed her touch, missed her embrace, and missed how she wrapped her arms around him.
After some time, all of the tears had gone, and they sat on their son’s bed, holding one another. Blaise then lifted Hermione in his arms, walked to the other side of the mattress, and laid her beneath the covers on the tiny bed. He then crawled in beside her, and wrapped his arms around her as she faced him.
Blaise stroked Hermione’s hair, and left soft kissed on her forehead as he comforted her. He ran his fingertips against her smooth skin, wiped the tearstains from her cheeks. For the first time in weeks, Hermione lifted a hand, and ran her fingers through his hair, and brushed the tears away from under his eyes. She smiled lovingly into his warm eyes, and even though she was still distressed, some of the sadness had left her as she gazed into the eyes of the man that she loved. Blaise kissed her softly on her lips, as he pulled her even closer to him.
Even though the wound was still very strong between them, and even though they would carry this pain for the rest of their lives, Blaise was knew that they could through this together. Hermione kissed him and gazed into his warm expression. With one look of her hazel eyes, he suddenly knew that everything was going to be alright.
There's my shot at Blaise/Hermione:) Thanks for reading! Please review! It only takes a few little seconds:D
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