Last Kiss

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Story Notes:
The pain is getting worse. Charlie tries to hide it, but Hermione knows him too well after so many years. He can’t hide anything from her anymore. She can see it in his eyes and in the lines of his face. They’ve had months longer than expected, mostly because he’s been too stubborn to leave her. She doesn’t want him to go now, but she can’t keep being selfish. She loves him too much to see him suffer, to watch him withdraw more and more everytime the children and grandkids visit because he hates having them see him like this.

She touches his face, gently stroking his wrinkled skin as she looks into his eyes. She thinks back to that warm summer day when he sat with her in the garden and looked at the clouds overhead as they talked for hours, when she started to see him for the first time. She traces his lips with her fingers as she remembers their first kiss and the hundreds since. His eyes are wet as he brings his hand up to touch her, and she leans forward, closer, so that he doesn’t have to reach so far.

When his fingers lightly touch her cheek, she turns her head slightly and kisses his palm. He sighs, and she blinks away tears as she lies down next to him and curls into his side. She doesn’t have to say anything because he knows. He knows her too well after so many years together. She tilts her head up and kisses him, holding his shoulder tightly as she tries to keep the strength that she needs to do this. She wants to stop, wants to tell him that he can’t go, wants to remind him that he promised never to leave her, but she can’t. She loves him so much, and she knows that it’s time to finally let him go.

“I love you,” she whispers against his lips as she touches his face, trying to burn his image into her memory despite knowing that she’ll never forget.

“I know,” he says quietly, lips quirking slightly as he repeats his normal response. There’s a spark in his eyes that hasn’t really been there lately, not since he got sick, and he looks younger as he stares at her. “I’ll be waiting for you.”

“You’d better be,” she tells him before she kisses him again. She wants more time, and it isn't fair that she's losing him, regardless of how many years they've had. She caresses his face and looks at him, saying goodbye silently because the words won't come. He brushes her tears away and smiles that crooked smile that made her fall in love so many decades ago. And she knows that this is right, even if it's the hardest thing that she's ever done.

She brushes her lips gently against his, needing one last kiss even though it's not enough. When his fingers slide from her shoulder, she rests her cheek against his chest and listens to him breathing as he goes to sleep one last time.