Chapter 1 : Promise
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The earth no longer shakes around her, screams no longer fill the air; the war is over. She slides down the wall to sit on the floor, pulling her legs to her chest and resting her head on her knees just outside the the Great Hall. Inside, bodies had been laid out for all to see and recognize, and praise for their bravery in the war but she couldn't bear to see how many people she had known had died. She had suffered the blow of losing someone close to her before- when she was eight, she had lost her mother in a car accident - but she did not think she could survive it again.
"Hannah?" A voice inquired somewhere above her, and she sniffled sadly, realizing she had been crying. She could only imagine the ghastly streaks she had down her dirty cheeks now but cast the thought aside when she saw it was only Neville.
His hair hung limp in his eyes with the sweat that caked his face and neck, and he still clutched Gryffindor's sword in his right hand so tightly his knuckles were white. There was dried blood on his hands and forearms, but he didn't seem to notice nor mind. His brown eyes were both proud and mournful. With surprising strength, he pulled her to her feet and embraced her with a deep, relieved exhale.
"Oh Neville," Hannah moaned, burying her face into his shoulder as fresh tears spilled down her cheeks. "I kept thinking the worst. So many people murdered. I- I thought you were dead too,"
"Well, I'm here now," Neville told her softly, pressing his forehead to hers. "And I promise - no, I swear that, for as long as I live and I breathe, I'll never leave you alone again." Neville took her hands in his and squeezed reassuringly. She didn't respond. "Do you understand me?"
"That's an awfully big promise," Hannah frowned slightly. "How do you expect me to believe -"
The sword fell to the cold, stone floor with a clatter as he took her face between his calloused hands and kissed her. His lips were soft and warm and inviting but the kiss was hard and eager, as though he'd been waiting a long time for this moment. She figured that war changed people: made them braver when they used to be scared, or bolder when they used to be shy. Hannah remembered a saying she'd heard once somewhere, from someone.
Live every day as if it were your last.
Maybe that was why previously shy and awkward Neville Longbottom had just kissed her. Maybe he had heard the saying, too, and had decided that he never wanted to lose her. Maybe he had the right idea, and she just wasn't confident in herself.
After a brief second of hesitation, Hannah responded with just as much eagerness. He was her light on the darkest day of their lives, guiding and protecting her.
And she never wanted to let go.
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