The owl arrives shortly after dawn.
She is already awake and making breakfast. He can smell sausages frying when he stirs and slowly opens his eyes. Remus doesn’t like waking to an empty bed very much, preferring for her warm body to still be curled up against him when he wakes. It seems lonelier when she’s not there, which is silly because the sheets are still warm from her body and the scent of vanilla and peaches surrounds him.
The past few months, Hermione is rarely asleep when he wakes. Sleep has been elusive for her since the attacks started and he’s lost track of how often he’ll lie awake at night holding her through her nightmares. It has been four years since Voldemort’s defeat and they have been lovers for a little over half of that time.
By the time they both acknowledged what they felt and shared a bed, her nightmares had been gone, only occurring occasionally just as his sometimes did. He knows she had suffered from insomnia after the war. They’ve talked about those days, bleak and dark when hope was difficult to keep. He remembers the time when there had been dark circles beneath her eyes and how she’d been listless every time they’d met during those first months. She’d recovered, though, as they all had so he is surprised that the nightmares have begun again.
Remus pulls her pillow against him and inhales her scent, feeling like a foolish schoolboy for a few moments instead of a man who is nearly forty-five. It’s the smell of burning toast that tells him something is wrong. Hermione isn’t the best cook, even though she improves every day, but she has never burned toast before. Something is wrong.
He gets out of bed and pulls on his discarded pajama bottoms just in case they have unexpected company. Shortly after they moved in together, he had been more embarrassed than he ever believed imaginable when he’d gone into the kitchen naked to surprise her with a bit of impromptu table shagging only to find Harry and Ron sitting there. To this day, Ron refuses to eat at the table in the kitchen and Harry snickers in a way that makes Remus blush even as he tries to glare.
The kitchen is empty. The sausages are still frying, the toast is burned, and there is a glass of orange juice on the counter that is half full. “Hermione?” he calls out as steadily as possible. He tries not to panic because calm is good. When he gets no reply, he tries again and starts to search their small flat. There aren’t many rooms to check and he quickly determines that she’s gone. She wouldn’t have left the flat without telling him good-bye and certainly not this early on a Sunday morning, their usual day to spend time together being lazy.
He starts to panic.
Remus goes back into the sitting room and considers flooing Harry and Ron to see if either of them know where she might be. It’s not even seven, though, and he knows neither of them would be awake yet unless there was an emergency. If there had been an emergency, she’d have woken him. He runs his fingers through his hair as he paces back and forth, trying to think. It’s then he notices the owl looking at him curiously. He had somehow missed seeing it when he’d been in the kitchen before.
“Where did you come from?” he asks the creature who is obviously waiting for a reply or a treat. He looks around the floor and notices the parchment, rolled up and fallen beneath the table. He picks it up, his fingers brushing against the cold floor, and reads it. “Oh God.”
He drops it and runs into the bedroom, grabbing clothes from the wardrobe and getting dressed faster than he can ever remember. He had been worried that it had something to do with the recent attacks that had been in the Prophet. Kingsley had warned them that there might be some danger before his department could capture the people responsible, but he’d never thought they’d attack a Muggle neighborhood.
It’s only after he’s dressed and reaching for his wand that he realizes he’s somehow managed to put on Hermione’s dark purple jumper, which explains why it felt so tight. She needs him, though, so he doesn’t bother to change; thankful, at least, that it’s not some low cut sexy thing she sometimes wears to drive him insane with lust.
It takes a moment for him to calm down enough to feel comfortable Apparating. Remus grips his wand and thinks of her parents’ home and the tree in the backyard that conceals the spot they use as an Apparation point. Within seconds, he’s there, blinking at the charred ruins of Hermione’s family home. The owl said that her parents are alive, which is definitely the most important thing, and he is thankful they drank too much during a party with friends and just slept it off in a guest room because this could be far, far worse.
The snow crunches beneath his boots and he holds the coat he’s brought for Hermione because he knows she’s probably only wearing her pajamas and possibly her robe, which isn’t warm enough for this cold winter. He finds her sitting amongst the rubble sifting through the charred ruins. She looks up at him, her face covered in soot and streaks of tears.
“They burned it,” she whispers in a distant voice that sounds as if she might be in shock. “It’s all gone, Remus. They---they destroyed it all.”
“I’m so sorry, love,” he says softly, knowing such words are inadequate at the moment. He kneels beside her and puts her coat over her shoulders, his fingers touching cold skin. He wraps an arm around her to try to warm her, not wanting her to get sick on top of this ordeal. “Your parents are okay?”
“Yes, thank God,” she tells him softly as she leans against him and lets her hands continue their search for anything left in the ruins of her childhood home. “If they’d been home, they wouldn’t have survived. Kingsley said it was meant to destroy everything, the magic and spells that were used, but a few things managed to survive. Not much. It’s all gone.”
He watches her pull a photograph from the debris, the edges burnt but the image of a smiling young Hermione wearing a pretty dress was still visible. She holds it against her chest before she turns to him and grips him tight while she cries. He rubs her back gently and whispers to her that it will be okay, that they’ll catch the wizards who are doing these things, that he’s there for her.
“I love you,” she whispers against his neck and he knows she’ll be okay, that she won’t allow these faceless wizards to terrorize her or those she loves. She's strong and tenacious, his Hermione, and this will just make her stronger.
“I love you, too, Hermione,” he replies softly as he holds her and rocks her slowly in the midst of the wreckage of her childhood home, giving her the support and strength she needs at the moment.
For tattooedsiren who requested Remus/Hermione.
Originally Posted: Jan 18, 2006
The owl arrives shortly after dawn.