Patience is a virtue she thought she had. At the very least, she used to handle patience better than she can now. Now it tugs at her— presses down on her, latches onto her skin and drains her, dares her to break. What Patience cannot know is that although her body aches now, it’s ached before. For longer. Her limbs have been pushed in and through pain like she was nothing but baggage on a worn down conveyor belt. Her flesh, bone, mind, faith — they’ve all been tested to their limit and she has survived. Barely. But barely is the difference between alive and dead. She has the scars to prove it.
She lies in bed and brings her fingertips up to her neck. A mark has been made in one of the creases of her skin that time will never erase, however patient she is. Sometimes she thinks she can still smell the bloody mix of metal and death that stubbornly clung to the blade as it pressed into her. Completely irrational of course, she tells herself, but she cannot help it.
He was here an hour ago, but now he is gone. The single bed in her bedroom is now hers again, but she would rather be cramped than alone.
The house was silent. She has to find things to do to stop her mind wandering; she has to convince herself the silence is peaceful instead of eerie. Gentle instead of ominous.
He had woken her with kisses because she had asked him to. She had made him promise the night before, whilst their hands gripped each other’s bodies. (“I promise I’ll wake you up, however unseemly the hour may be, and say goodbye.”)
“I’ll only be gone a day.”
How desperately she wanted to believe him.
The days when he was gone were the hardest, she remembers. The days when he had deserted her. She had felt fractured and abandoned. Did he realise that he had forced her to take every last bit of strength and resolve left in her to keep down the panic that threatened to rise? This was a war. How were they meant to survive it if he, of all people, had given up?
Not even Harry could stop the emptiness that filled her, because he felt it too.
The worst thing was — he didn’t understand that sorry was not enough.
Not even destroying a horcrux could make up for what he had put them through.
He was still such a child in so many ways, and he didn’t understand. That was the worst thing.
The war had changed him too. Irrevocably.
For the first time, he could not wait to leave The Burrow. It’s all too comfortable surroundings suffocated him. He opened the door to his room and found it covered with a thin layer of dust. It smelt stale and strange, detatched from him in some way.
He had left it in a mess, but now it was just a mess he could not be bothered to clear up. It was time to start again.
He finds her asleep in her room, her arms and legs wrapped around her quilt tightly, holding on to something that isn’t really there. Except now he is, and she isn’t alone anymore.
The single bed really is too small for the both of them, and he doesn’t want to wake her. Sleep has become a precious commodity these days for those they know. He can only hope she isn’t sharing the same nightmares as him.
In the morning she can feel his skin before she opens her eyes. His hand is fixed loosely around her arm, covering the other scar she possesses that will never fade.
She feels stupid for feeling so relieved.
“You’re here,” she whispers to him.
His hand gives her arm a gentle squeeze.
They never stop being soldiers. They weren’t ever taught how.
This war binds them in a way that Hogwarts never could.
There are days when their minds stray, fall into old memories, relive past wounds - when they sink into themselves and refuse any anchor, forcing those close to do nothing but listen… but they learn to battle through. They come out the other end of their grief with an “I’m fine” that tells the truth to only those that are patient enough to understand: I am coping. Stay with me.
She always listens, and he learns to understand.