The Sugar Quill
Author: Chime  Story: Surviving Without You  Chapter: Unfair
The distribution of this story is for personal use only. Any other form of distribution is prohibited without the consent of the author.

This is about anyone, who's ever lost someone they loved. This is about how once you become one soul it can never be changed. This is about love that transcends life, as it should.

All of the characters portrayed in this work of fanfiction are owned by J.K. Rowling. I have no claim over them at all.

Surviving Without You

"It's not fair that I have to be a widow at twenty."

She stood against a backdrop of mottled gray and green, her right hand clutching a forgotten bouquet of wildflowers. A storm was coming, and she could hear a dog barking somewhere in the distance, followed by the cry of a child. She paid them no mind. Though he was buried in a wizarding cemetery, this neighborhood was composed primarily of Muggles, and she didn't want to hang about too long.

She sighed softly and bent to brush a leaf off of the headstone, setting the flowers down gently.

"It's not fair," she began again, "that we could only be married for five months." Her voice cracked slightly, but her eyes were dry and slightly defiant. "I know, I'm complaining too much. I always have. That's part of why you love me, isn't it?" She smiled slightly, absentmindedly twisting her wedding ring on her finger.

"I came home yesterday – well, not home, I haven't been there since you left… You know, I told you the other day. I can't go back, not yet – it's too soon. Harry's been letting me stay over; he's been good about it. He's been so strong, Ron – you know him. I came to the house yesterday though… he had broken three of the windows downstairs. He broke a couple of fingers too, and he was just sitting on the couch, staring at his hand when I walked in. He looked up at me, with this sort of confused look on his face, as I pulled his hand over so I could look at it. All he said was 'I don't know what happened. I've been fine.'”

“He has, too. He's been trying to be strong for me, I think. But he doesn't realize what I have, I guess – you're right next to me, aren't you? I'd die for you, Ron, just to be by your side again, but I'm not going to give up. You don't want that.”

She shook her head, affirming this thought to herself. “Your mum cries a lot. She really does. I know she misses you, just like she misses Charlie. She realizes how lucky she is, still. She knows she raised a wonderful boy into a heroic, kind, loving man, even if he did turn out to be stubborn and silly sometimes. Ginny… she's been quiet. Fred and George haven't made a joke since it happened…” Her face clouded, then she nodded to herself. “I wasn't going to tell you, I don't want to make you upset, but I hope they start making jokes again soon. We all need to laugh so badly.”

She paused, quite suddenly looking pensive.

“I saw Dumbledore yesterday, in the morning. We made awful small talk, about tea and a fourth year student, and then he gave me this particular little look for some reason. He got up, walked around his desk, pulled me out of the chair and hugged me.”

She drew a breath sharply.

“No one has hugged me like that since the last time I saw my father. I think Dumbledore understands more about me, maybe about all three of us, than then we understand about ourselves. He's always been our father when we couldn't have our own, hasn't he?”

Hermione crossed one leg over the other, cocking her head to the side. Off in the distance fog was rolling down the hills in thick, soft blankets. It looked like snow, or a mass of ghosts streaming down the hill.

“He rubbed my back, and his beard was all scratchy against the side of my face, and when he pulled back, he asked me to make a visit to Madam Pomfrey, then he took my hand and offered to escort me to the hospital wing.” She shook her head, amazed. “You know how Professor Dumbledore always seemed to know things no one else could.”

"Oh, Madam Pomfrey was so happy to see me. We weren't as regular about visiting Hogwarts after The Fall as we could have been. Of course, she came to the funeral, but… you know, I could barely move, let alone talk. She gave Dumbledore a questioning look, like there was something she suspected but didn't want to voice – at first I was afraid they thought that I was having a breakdown or something like that, but Dumbledore just smiled and patted his stomach. Madam Pomfrey's eyes got big and she sat me down, and did a quick examination."

“We're going to have a baby... babies. She's not positive, but she thinks we're going to have twins." She snorted softly and brushed her hair back with her hands, regarding the stone quietly. "Did you know, somehow? You always said that divination was a load of rubbish, and until a few weeks ago I agreed. Maybe we were wrong, Ron. Yes, me, wrong. After all, you didn't let me go with you, did you?"

“Just think, Ron. I'm two months along – I haven't been paying attention to myself for the last few weeks, I didn't even notice the signs. Dumbledore was the only indication I had… Just think… last month, when you surprised me after work with a dinner, there was already life inside of me, life from you. That was a week before you died. It's frozen there, like a still picture, like something out of a movie. It doesn't feel like it was my life. Three weeks ago, you were my life. Now, you're gone.”

She swallowed hard, remembering the third task from their fourth year.

“The thing the means the most to me… Too late… you're gone… you won't come back. You can't. I almost – almost, mind – wish you had been sad, near the end. If you had… maybe you would have been a ghost, and you could have been by me forever.”

Hermione shook her head, negating the thought.

“But I know that if you became a ghost, and I died happy, we would loose each other for all of time. Sometimes when you loose, you win, darling. I'll only be here for another hundred and thirty years, if I'm 'lucky', but after that… after that, I'll join you in eternity.”

She ran her hand over the cool stone and a silent tear dripped from her eye.

"When the baby asks about you, Ron, there'll be so much to say. I'll tell them about how you were a great prat, how you made me cry and then became my best friend. In fact, I'll tell them about all of the times you made me cry – when we were eleven, when you wouldn't talk to me because of that stupid Firebolt, when you yelled at me in the common room after the ball in our fourth year – although I never told you I cried that night. I'll tell them about the time you surprised me into falling out of a tree during Christmas vacation in fifth year.” She couldn't help but grin. “Mum was so cross with you. It was great. I'll tell them how unfair you could be sometimes, how belligerent and rude, how bad your mouth was when you got it running. I'll tell them you would have been a horrible example, language wise.”

She sank slowly to her knees and dropped her chin against her chest, emotion obviously welling up inside of her. Bracing herself with one hand against the monument, she drew labored breaths, and was quiet for a few minutes.

“They'll be raised on the Cannons, Ron. No-“ she smiled softly, “Neither of them will be named Chudley. That's just going too far. When they leave for Hogwarts, they'll leave with stories of three students who helped save the world. They'll love their Uncle Harry, and I they'll love the father they never got to meet.”

Finally, she looked up and traced his name on the stone with her index finger.

“Will my entire life be ruled by irony, Ron? I fell in love with someone I could barely get along with, after all. Maybe that was just the start, and this…” she gestured to the grave for the benefit of the trees and any nearby small animals, as she was the only one in the graveyard. “Maybe this is just one of many follow-ups. After all we went through with the Death Eaters, with Voldemort, with the destruction of Hogwarts… after you being an Auror and driving back dementors, after all we did in the seven years we were at school, you left me because of a stupid Muggle car accident. What possessed you to walk that day, Ron? You're a fully qualified wizard. Why didn't you Apparate? Why didn't you Floo? Why was your wand in your inner pocket? Why did you leave me, Ron?”

She choked back a sob. Her throat was tight and her chest hurt, but it was nothing compared to the hurt in her soul. Suddenly, she laughed out loud as a most absurd thought came to her. She voiced it to the stone.

“Oh Ron, who will I argue with?”

Vocalizing the thought somehow made it funnier, and she bent her head to her knees, her body shuddering with mirth. There was no defining line between sorrow and humor for Hermione anymore. Tears streamed down her face in great streaks, and she clutched her stomach. The pain in her throat increased double-fold, and she was nearly howling, one arm lying on the ground supporting her, the other clutched around her stomach.

Gradually, her laughter tapered off and she was left only with tears.

“Oh, I can see you now, Ron. I can see you right in front of me, crossing your arms and trying not to smile at what I've just said. Sacrilegious, you'd say. Making awful jokes over your grave. You wouldn't be able to do it, I know. You'd draw your mouth in trying not to smile, till it was this tiny line, and you'd bite your tongue, but you'd laugh eventually. You'd break, like a dam after a storm, wouldn't you? All of a sudden, you'd break, and you'd laugh just as hard as me, wouldn't you?”

She fell silent again, her tears momentarily halted by the image of her dead husband. A child again cried out in on the nearby street, apparently attempting to hail a nearby friend.

“We knew somehow, didn't we? I - I think we did somehow. I don't know how, exactly, and I don't think I ever will. We knew you were going to die, didn't we? Why couldn't we stop it, if we knew? The last few months I've found myself memorizing you. When I go to sleep tonight, you'll be next to me. When I wake up tomorrow morning, I'll look into your eyes.”

She gently caressed her stomach, mindful of the life inside of her. There was imperceptible movement in her womb, and she smiled despite herself.

“When this baby... these babies... come into the world, you will be standing next to your mother, in complete shock, unable to comprehend that we created something so wonderful. I hope they look like you, Ron. Already, you're in every voice I hear, in every face that passes me by.”

She was now sitting upright, her legs bent beneath and arms crossed below her breasts. The wind had begun to blow harder, and the sky was darkening with the onset of night. Perhaps the child had gone indoors – Hermione heard nothing but the wind brushing through the trees.

“You left me, Ron.” Her voice was not accusing; she was merely stating a fact. “You left me, but you left part of yourself behind. Thank you. I'm going to live, and I'm going to die an old woman. I'm going to fulfill the life we would have had together. I know you'll be by my side the whole way.” She smiled and placed a hand on the stone, standing up.

“I'm going to go tell your mum and dad and the rest of the family. I've told them all to meet me at The Burrow. After that I'll go to the hospital and tell my parents. I know they won't hear me, but someday they will. I'll be working on that over the next many years, Ron, bringing them back. I'll do it – it's just a matter of time.”

She gave a halting laugh.

“Did you know the Sorting Hat offered to put me in Slytherin, Ron? Oh, of course I never told you. I wish I had. It didn't suggest it because I was foul – and certainly not because I was a pureblood. It said that I had ambition above that of most Slytherin he had ever met. I'll make my parents wake up, and Neville's, and everyone else's family who's been tortured by the abyss. They'll know their grandchild, even if they never really knew you, Ron. Your mother will be so happy.”

Hermione pulled her fingers to her lips, then turned her hand and placed them to the stone. Standing, she turned her eyes to the sky. Any minute now. It would clean, it would wash away. It would renew and make things clearer, but it would never wipe her heart of what she had. She didn't need it, anyway.

She turned back to the monument. “I'll be back next week, Ron. But I know you're with me now.”

Hermione turned and swiftly made her way out of the cemetery. A moment later, she disappeared.

It began to rain.
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