After the first death at Hogwarts in decades, a death that tarnished a record and started a war, Albus Dumbledore stood up to address his student body.
"Remember, if the time should come, when you have to make a choice between what is right and what is easy, remember what happened to a boy who was good, and kind, and brave, because he strayed across the path of Lord Voldemort. Remember Cedric Diggory."
And at the Hufflepuff table a girl with pigtails fumed.
"Why are you giving him their word?" Hannah Abbott wanted to demand. "Call him loyal, call him fair, strong, steady. You're a billion years old, Headmaster. Surely you can think of a word for a hero that isn't Gryffindor's."
Dumbledore called him brave. You-Know-Who called him the spare. Cho wept, but never as much as Amos Diggory did.
Hannah climbed into cold sheets that night, in a room hung with yellow and black. She stayed curled up, eyes open, for hours. He was ours.
He wouldn't have bled black and yellow, no, but Cedric had lived it. He had died by it--sportsmanship in the middle of chaos, two boys taking the cup's handle together and disappearing into a place only one of them would come back from.
They say fairness is kind. Kind. Hannah kept tissues stuffed up her sleeves. If she burst out laughing in the library, no one asked why. If she cried they thought they understood.
Hannah Abbott was fourteen years old when Cedric Diggory died. She had been thirteen when he first became her House prefect. She had cheered herself hoarse at every Quidditch game and she had gone silent with joy when his name came out of the Goblet of Fire. It was supposed to find the best of Hogwarts and it had: loyal and fair, a young man who repaid his favors and loved his father, who taught little Hufflepuffs how to get into the common room, who didn't begrudge Harry's fame.
Hannah was not that good. She pinned a Potter Stinks badge on her chest--and wore it proud. Cedric had been the best of them. Cedric had been the best of her House. In her first year, her second, third, fourth, she gathered up her books and tried to match him stride for stride. When he bent down to help a first year with directions, when he joked someone out of homesickness, or congratulated his enemies on the Quidditch field, Hannah tried to memorize the way he held himself. She tried to catalogue the steady grace in his eyes and find it in herself.
In her fifth year she screwed her eyes shut and tried to remember.
Hannah did not know Cedric well. She knew of him. He had helped her with her homework and she had wanted, badly, to grow up to be him. She gave glares that were ignored to the people who tittered behind their hands at Cho's tears. She found Amos Diggory at the funeral and told him his son had changed her life.
For Hannah, this was the death of a symbol. That didn't mean it didn't matter, but it did mean it mattered differently. When people who had known him well sat in the warm common room and told stories about Cedric, their friend, their captain, that boy they'd taken under their wing when he was a dorky first year, Hannah kept quiet and listened. They spun stories and she thought this is what I want to be.
In the summer between her fourth and fifth years, a school owl brought a bulky letter through her parents' living room window. A prefect's badge tumbled onto her palm.
She left it on the kitchen table beside her untouched hashbrowns, got her sneakers, grabbed her bike from the shed, and took off down the lane.
They lived in a Muggle suburb because her mother believed it was important to know your roots. They had a telephone and everything, partially for the same reason of roots, but also because Hannah's Muggle grandparents were in their seventies and still getting used to the idea of televisions and computers, let alone calling their grandbaby via magical fireplace.
"That Macmillan boy's on the line for you," her father called when she got back, flushed and breathless and steadier for it.
"You got one too," Ernie said, and Hannah almost giggled at him and his familiar strident certainty. Sitting in her parents' living room, she was suddenly, easily homesick.
"A Hogwarts book list?" she said. "Yes. I did get one. Fifth year in a row! Imagine that."
"A prefect's badge," said Ernie impatiently. "You're the obvious choice. Unless--Susan didn't, did she?"
"No, Ern, I've got one."
He let out a rushing sigh of worry and relief. "Can you feel the responsibility, Hannah?" Ernie said, and she bet he could, bet his shoulders were bowing while he fought them stubbornly upright. "We need to meet, and plan, and discuss, schedule--"
"How are we going to do this?" she said.
"Like I said, we'll meet up, maybe over some ice cream in Diagon Alley? And start--"
"No." She sighed. "I mean, how can we fill these shoes?"
There was a long silence. "If we manage not to die this year, I think we surpass him actually."
"We just try, Hannah. I know we're not going to do it right, but we're going to do it the best we can. That's got to be enough, okay?"
Being prefect the year of Umbridge was a special treat, for a very twisted definition of special that involved Ernie conjuring plates and then breaking them in the Hufflepuff common room fireplace to blow off steam. Hannah practiced a very small Reducto spell, breaking his shattered pieces down to fine dust.
When Hannah followed Ernie and Hermione Granger into the Hog's Head, her heart in her throat, she wondered if this was what it felt like to be brave. She settled down near the edge of the circle of the boys and girls who would become the DA and listened to Zacharias and the others challenge Harry, watched Potter's friends throw each of Harry's victories in their ears.
Voldemort was back, they said, and Hannah saw Cedric's sightless face again, discarded on that overgrown Quidditch field. He had been the best of them.
Fairness had killed Cedric. That was the crux of it, wasn't it? If Harry Potter had been a little greedier, a bit less honest, he would have reached for that Portkey alone. But they wanted to be fair, those two young boys who thought they were only playing a game. And it killed one of them.
Hannah knew it was unfair to blame Harry Potter for Cedric's death; and on good days she didn't.
In the Hog's Head, Ernie shifted and questioned. Susan Bones watched steadily, the way her aunt did at court hearings, taking each word in evenly. Cedric had been the best of them, but now they would have to be.
The world was unfair. Smiling team captains were strewn, dead but largely unblemished, on their own fields. Umbridge was a blight. When Hannah was small, whenever she raged or grumbled, her Ravenclaw mother would always tell her in that maddeningly pitying way, "Life's not fair."
Did she think Hannah didn't know that? Life is not fair. But it should be.
And if we don't make it better, who will?
Hannah took the quill from Ernie and signed her name on Dumbledore's Army's roster with her very best penmanship.
When Voldemort had Cedric Diggory killed, he said this: kill the spare.
Hannah heard it whispered in the hallways, too, right behind sheep and not smart not brave not cunning and simply Puff. Potions with Snape was always a treat. He hated Harry Potter, but the black and yellow only earned his disdain. But even Flitwick sometimes sighed when Justin Finch-Fletchey just couldn't quite figure out a charm.
And Hannah, in a quiet, accustomed, burning way, fumed. We are not spare parts.
You think we're your cast offs. You think we're the kids no other House wanted to take.
Well, here's a clue for you, suckers. This is a story about choice. The wand chooses the wizard but the wizard chooses the House. When that Hat goes on your head, it doesn't forbid you things, it offers them to you.
We are not your castoffs. We're just the kids who didn't choose you.
Dumbledore's Army met in empty classrooms, shared furtive glances across the Great Hall, and then found a home in the Room of Requirement. Hannah took her homework there, most afternoons, instead of going to the library, and watched people study, spar, flirt. She got Charms help from Cho, and learned how Parvati and Lavender practically inhaled and exhaled together. She met the Weasley twins, who Ernie found as annoying as Hannah found endearing. When Fred died, Ernie would cry far harder than Hannah, but tears are hardly a measure of grief. They're a measure of salt water on your face.
When she paused to to help one of the Creevey brothers with his grip on his wand, Hannah remembered Cedric Diggory, who had been good and fair and giving, but then she shook it off. There was a kid with an awful wand grip and a stubbornly swallowed fear of Umbridge in front of her and she had a job to do.
Hannah's DADA marks dropped. Something about following Umbridge's sickly sweet lesson plans turned Hannah's stomach.
Her Charm scores climbed and what free time she didn't spend in the Room of Requirement bumping elbows with Ernie she spent in the greenhouses. Professor Sprout, who with her frizzy grey hair was like the sun coming out from behind a rain cloud, was happy to give her projects, especially once she noticed Hannah's thorough, thoughtful patience.
Hannah trimmed trumpet vines which climbed all over her while she did so, like a twining cat. She lugged fertilizer and perfected her water summoning. Umbridge was a blight on her school and it felt good to trim dead leaves, to water and wait and to watch green things grow.
One day at dinner, Susan Bones grumbled, not an uncommon affair. "They think it's just Potter," Susan said. "They get all weepy over the poor orphan boy, but this was a war, not a murder. Potter's not the only wizarding war orphan."
Hannah ate her peas one at a time, chasing them around the plate and thought about the House Elves shelling each one.
After dinner, she tugged on Susan's sleeve, slowing them both down to walk behind the mass of other Puffs. They always walked in a crowd--somewhere, a Slytherin (a Gryffindor) (a Ravenclaw) (or a professor, who really ought to know better) was calling them sheep.
Hannah pointed at a Muggleborn, one of the ones who had been goggling at Potter and irritating Susan. "Car crash," she said. Hannah nodded to another. "We're not the only ones with wars. He lost his mom overseas." She dropped names and losses at Susan's feet, which slowed til they were stopped in the hallway. "Things go bump in the night in the Muggle world, too."
Susan was staring at her. She had taken the lesson to heart with no prideful challenge. That was one of the things Hannah would like best about Susan, in the years and years of sharing a dormitory. Susan listened, she recalibrated, she changed her own heart if you gave her reason to.
Susan was looking at her, steady. Hannah blushed hard under the scrutiny.
"You should meet my Aunt Amelia," Susan said. "You'd make a good Auror one day."
"Me?" Hannah pressed a hand to one of her pinking cheeks, wishing she could scrub blushes away. Why was the response to being nervous and uncomfortable your body telling the world by flooding blood to your cheeks?
"You look at things. You notice them, the little things. Aunt Amelia says the little things are what everything else is built out of." Susan gave a nod, businesslike, her aunt obvious in the stern lines of her fifteen year old body, and started heading after the other students. "She was in Hufflepuff, too."
OWLs came around the corner, peeking their head between harsh detentions, Weasley antics, and DA lessons. Signing up for the DA had been more scary than this test. Walking the hallways, past Inquisitors, was more dangerous, Hannah was sure, but her body disagreed. Her heart was in her throat, choking her with each beat, and her stomach was screaming somewhere around her knees.
During the test, she tried to transfigure a ferret and got a flock of flamingos instead. Someone laughed and she was red, all red, her throat tightening. Why did bodies think blushes and frozen mortification, thudding panic, were the proper response for this kind of thing?
During a Herbology class, she got stumped on a question she ought to know. Cedric would have known this--if she was smarter--if she was steadier--if she just knew the--
Hannah cried easy, at bad grades and bad days, when she dropped a plate in the Great Hall or if too many people looked at her at once.
No--she cried hard.
It was a fight. A body that panicked in the form of tears and a girl who just wanted to get by. These were angry tears, rage and frustration, and she'd really just rather do without them.
"Just calm down, it's not that big a deal," people would tell her. And she would have glared at them if she wasn't trying to force herself to breathe.
Do you think I don't know that? Do you think crying is what I want to be doing in the middle of Professor Sprout's class?
Professor Sprout sent her to Madame Pomfrey to cheer up. They called it that, cheer up, and Hannah bristled. Neville already knew the material, so Professor Sprout had him walk Hannah up. When they got to the infirmary, Neville didn't leave, just sat next to her while Madame Pomfrey tutted and got her some Calming Draught.
Neville gave her a piece of gum in a shiny, crinkly wrapper and stared at his hands until she took a long shaky breath and asked him about how his gillyweed garden was coming along.
She had seen this boy across greenhouses and DA meetings. Neville didn't do things well, not the first time, not the seventh, but he did them eighteen times, fifty-three times, until he got it right. He danced alone to learn the steps for the Yule Ball. He fired Reducto after Reducto in the Room of Requirement until he could shatter stone. People looked startled, when Neville stepped on a ballroom floor like he meant it, when his spells went not awry but magnificently. Hannah didn't. She understood that the journey defined the destination.
He unwrapped a piece of gum for himself, chewed it, and they sat in companionable silence until Madame Pomfrey told her she could go.
When she went home that summer and wrote to Ernie, to Susan, to her cousin in Wales, she also wrote to Neville Longbottom. He didn't write back long letters, but he wrote back often.
Hannah had first met Neville in Herbology class. This was a boy who dropped things, who stumbled and stuttered, but he moved so steadily through the reaching greenery. His hands were calm half buried in dirt. She read his uncertain handwriting and remembered that.
She wasn't in love with him yet. She wouldn't be for years, not until after pitched battles in school hallways and long gasps of healing. But when she was, she would remember that Neville stopped being clumsy when he thought he was needed.
Hannah got on the train the next September with a tentative skip in her step. A few weeks into the school year, they pulled her out of Herbology class to tell Hannah her mother had been killed.
She left a half-shaped miniature omnivorous hedge on the work bench, shears discarded, copper wire spooled untidily, because she had expected to come back. On the bare dirt just outside Greenhouse Three, they told her that her beautiful Ravenclaw mother, direct and clever, who believed in roots, was dead.
Dumbledore gave her a hot drink and then sent her home through the Floo.
Her father hugged her on the ashy hearth stone and didn't let go. She buried her face in his lumpy sweater. Holding tight, they both reminded themselves that two of them were still breathing.
Abbotts had been buried in Godric's Hollow for centuries. Hannah's mother was not an Abbott, not that young woman from a Muggle suburb, except for that Hannah's father had loved her. And Hannah had loved her. Apparently that was enough.
After the funeral, Hannah slipped away from the small crowd and walked down the staggering rows of gravestones, bright withering flowers, and dry grass.
She found Abbotts in rows and in isolated plots. When the markers were unworn enough, she tried to remember all their names. Her mother had thought it was important to know your roots.
Hannah made her father stop at an arboretum on the way home to buy a young lilac. When Hannah got home, she got out a shovel and planted the little tree in the backyard. She didn't use gardening gloves because she wanted dirt under her fingernails. She pressed mulch and fertilizer into place around the base of the lilac and put a spell of growth and health on it. If the Ministry wanted to take offense at a little underage magic, well, she could use a fight.
She'd stripped out of her nylons, so her bare knees pressed into the grass and wet dirt under the little black dress she was smudging with fertilizer. (At that moment, she thought she would never wear it again, that dress. She planned to burn it, or put it away in the back of her closet. It had seen enough. She was sure that if it saw any more grief it would burst, tarnish, wither.
But in a little over a year, they would be burying Lavender Brown. They would be burying Fred Weasley. They'd be burying Colin Creevey, and Tonks, who had shared Hannah's House once upon a time. They'd be burying children, parents, lovers, friends, and Hannah would pull on her little black dress again with shaking hands.
She would not burst).
She knelt in the dirt behind her little house with its quaint front door and trimmed lawn, its telephone (which was ringing off the hook with condolences from people who thought this had been a heart attack and not a hate crime) and unmagical dishwasher, the pots and pans Hannah's mother had inherited from her grandmother and which Hannah had just inherited from her.
It would have been dramatic to say that little lilac bush's first watering was with Hannah crying over it, but really she just gulped a bit and blew her nose and used a water can for the rest of it.
Letters fluttered through her window on shabby owls' wings and Hannah remembered: you plant seeds, water them, wait, and some of them will flower.
Ernie gave her businesslike discussions of the new first years and schoolyard gossip (delivered with crystal certainty) of all the rest. Neville pressed flowers and drying herbs between the pages of his scant, smudged letters. Mint when he felt clever. Sage when he felt steady. Daisies when he needed to make his own sunlight.
Kindness is about building things in other people. Curled up in the easy light of her bed, Hannah spent her mornings writing long responses in loopy handwriting: suburbs gossip for Ernie, the state of her garden for Neville, reviews of the book on deduction Susan had lent her for the young Bones. Then she pulled on worn jeans and T-shirts with puns on them and went down to sit in the wavery late morning light with her father. She told him about Hogwarts and he told her about meeting her mother in Muggle Studies, where she conquered and offered knowledge in equal measure.
The magic on the lilac had gone a little weird. The bush produced little, fragrant, purple apples on the second week of every month with thirty-one days. Hannah made pies in her mother's old pie dishes and biked them over to her grandfather's house. He taught her to play Muggle chess and she taught him about all the different flavors of Bertie Bott's Beans.
Muggle photos don't move. Hannah's grandmother had whole albums of her mother.
Hannah missed her sixth year, but not the gossip that came with it. (Thank you Ernie). Harry and the littlest Weasley. Quidditch drama. Hannah never met Professor Slughorn, but she knew she would not have been one of his chosen.
Susan didn't write for a week. When the Daily Prophet came with Susan's aunt's death plastered all over its front page, Hannah went out back. She pulled up daisies and yellow roses and morning glory from her flowerbeds. She cut the first few sprigs of lilac. Hannah bound them all up and sent them by owl. She wasn't sure what else to do. When Susan sent her a letter back about Potter's sudden potions excellence, Slughorn's festivities, and a review of a book on magical urban crime, Hannah wrote back. She wrote about books, pies, chess. She added, shakily, "I miss my mom."
There was a week of silence and then Susan's brisk missive arrived. Books, classes, Ernie's general exasperation at the unorganized world, the adventure of driving away some seventh year who was bullying Luna. Under the signature, the post script looked scrawled. "I miss my aunt."
Hannah scattered forget-me-nots in the next letter.
When Hannah started waking up in the mornings without immediately aching, her friends started losing the war that had killed her mother. When her seventh year of Hogwarts came around Hannah did not get a choice in whether or not she would return to school. It was that or run. Hannah didn't know how to run from difficult things, or run at them, only how to walk through them one step at a time.
She got on the train, homesick for places she could no longer find on either end of the tracks.
When Susan Bones found Hannah on the Express, she dropped her bags and hugged Hannah tight, then sat down awkwardly and pretended she hadn't. Hannah sat down next to her. Ernie tumbled into their cabin with a shaky grin, Neville moving quietly in behind him. He had a smile for her and tense, hyperaware glances for the rest of the train.
This wasn't home but maybe it was close enough.
One of the things that terrified her most about coming back was stepping past into that greenhouse. Hannah knew it was silly, amidst Death Eaters and scarring detentions and friends disappearing left and right, but it was true. Harry Potter paused in the middle of a war to visit the graves of parents long gone, long mourned, long lost, and Hannah Abbott staggered on that spot just outside Greenhouse Three where her heart had first shattered.
Loss does not take into account sweeping story arcs. It refuses to contextualize.
The first time they cursed one of the Carrows, Hannah had to breathe deep, settle her stomach, and grip Ernie's practical, sweaty hand tight. The first time a little first year burst out crying in the Great Hall, Hannah swept him up, heart thudding in her chest. She did not cry with him. Hannah cried easy, but that was for stress, frustration, panic, not sympathy.
Hannah cared more than Ginny, but then Ginny had no mercy left. It had been squeezed out of her at eleven. Ginny would fight for these children, defend, teach, die for them, but she would never pity them. Ginny was done with pity.
It took three breathless nights wandering the grounds under an invisibility charm for Hannah to finally brave the greenhouses. When she went into the dark rustling warmth of them, she found Neville sitting inside, working on a little potted nightshade. Hannah greeted each of her old friends, climbing vines and miniature whomping willows, before going to sit down next to him.
"I want something green to come out of this year," Neville explained without looking at her, his voice as steady as his hands.
"I like that the point of these is their existence," she said. "Life as the reason. Do you forget sometimes that there is a point to you that isn't about what use you are to other people?"
Hannah went out every few nights to breathe in green and work on her own projects. Sometimes Neville was there and sometimes he was away running defense lessons in the Room or, god forbid, sleeping. Sometimes they worked in companionable silence. Sometimes they talked about the DA, or wondered where Harry was. Neville told her about his disastrous early attempts with every non herbological magic. Hannah told him about her mother.
"This is where everything starts," Professor Sprout had told them, back when Hogwarts was still a place of light, smiling under that frizzing grey hair. Professor Sprout had buried her hands in dirt and said, "This is what everything grows from. The ground up."
Life is something you bury. Life is something you bury your hands in.
One night in the greenhouse, Hannah eyed Neville across the herb garden she was tending and said, "You should've been in Hufflepuff."
Neville looked at her, more miserable than she had expected. "I asked for it, but the Hat gave me Gryffindor."
When Ernie was angry with her, when he thought Hannah was being odd or cold, he told her that she ought to have been in Ravenclaw and her stomach dropped every time. When Dumbledore had called Cedric, of all things, brave, Hannah had felt robbed and wronged on Diggory's behalf. She swallowed back her words.
"You would've done well in Hufflepuff," Hannah said. "But Gryffindor's lucky to have you, Neville."
"You would have done well in Gryffindor," he told her, shy.
"I don't think so," she said.
"Because you get scared?" he asked. "I get scared, all the time. I keep trying to tell the first years. Even Harry gets scared, I think." He leaned close and added in a voice between awe and fear, "I'm not sure Hermione does, though."
"Everyone gets scared," said Hannah. "But we walk through it for different reasons. Your reasons are very brave, Nev, but they're not mine."
They fought a war in those hallways. The very statues of the castle rose in Hogwarts's defense. Trees pulled their roots from the ground. Hannah thought about Neville's hands buried in warm earth, in the light of the greenhouses. She thought about burying Cedric. She thought about her mother going into the ground and she gripped her wand tight.
Kind, they called her. Sweet. A stubborn, soft little Puff. They called Cedric brave and they called her kind.
Loyalty. Fairness. Honesty, effort, grit. These were the tenets of her House.
She would be fair if it killed her. She would be fair if it killed them. And it did. Like Susan had said once, this was war.
They won, and they lost, lost, and lost.
Ernie cried when they buried them, great racking gulps. Those shoulders which asked and asked for weight, for responsibility, which refused to bow, they shook and shook. Hannah clung tight to his hand, Susan on his other side with a lacey handkerchief in her spare fist and a gaze that refused to look away, waver, or break.
Hannah's other hand was in Neville's. When the service was over she would drag him away and get dirt under both their fingernails. They would remind each other they were both still breathing, that there were still so many ways to bury yourself.
After the war, Hermione Granger went back to school to make up the year she had spent saving the world. Hannah Abbott went back to make up the year she had spent grieving.
"They would have just handed the diploma to you," said some fifth year who'd only just barely swallowed his awe of the Golden Trio enough to sit by Hermione Granger. "Why did you come back?"
"Like you weren't doing NEWT level magics, or worse, all year long, Granger," said another.
Someone whispered, "I heard she just really likes homework."
"How you get there matters," Hermione said, and shot a quiet look at Hannah.
The summer after graduation, Hannah walked down Diagon Alley and applied at every shop. George had offered her a place at his joke shop, and like any of the DA she had a sure shot as an Auror, but when Tom offered her a waitressing job at the Leaky Cauldron, Hannah took it. The tavern was the gateway between one world and the next, and she rather liked that.
People drifted in and out of the warm little tavern. Regulars chatted, or moved to the quiet privacy of their usual booths. Hannah learned which of them wanted her to ask after their day, which of them really wanted her to listen to the answer, and which just wanted her to pass them a frothy mug. Students slipped in on their way to buy supplies, feeling daring and looking so very young. Tourists and families left friendly tips. Whenever a Muggleborn brought their folks, Hannah would give them a free basket of pop chicken (it really pops!) and linger to talk TV and electric dishwashers and pictures that stayed so very still.
Neville dropped by the Leaky Cauldron with a handful full of daisies after she'd been working there a year. "I wasn't sure what kind of flower would be--" he began, and Hannah leaned over the counter and kissed him.
When she took him home to meet her family, he got trapped for an hour of paging through unmoving photos, and two hours of a rather intense chess game with her grandfather. Her father cornered her after and said with a grin, "Now, Hannah my girl, don't you break that nice boy's heart."
Hannah walked out the first time she met Neville's family. She grabbed his arm and conjured up some story about an upset stomach and dragged him from that place.
"They dangled you out a window to scare you into not being a Squib?" she screeched when they were far enough away. "They dropped you!"
"They were worried--"
"They laugh when they tell that story."
When he'd calmed her down, they went back in and had tea and crackers sitting stiffly across from Lady Longbottom's vulture hat. Hannah was brightly, sharply friendly.
When they left, she kissed Neville hard under the willow at the end of the drive. "If those people ever touch my children I will enchant their nostrils to sing showtunes for the rest of their life." He was gaping a bit at the word children. Hannah laid a hand over his growing blush and said, "And I will never let them touch you again either."
When Tom retired, Hannah threw him a retirement party, an event so well attended they almost ran out of butterbeer for the first time since the tavern's founding.
The next morning Hannah got up early and started sweeping the debris out of her tavern. That afternoon, she moved into the rooms on the upper floor. A year later, Neville moved in with her. It was a reasonable commute to Hogwarts from there, especially if you Apparated just outside the gate.
Hannah would always have a telephone in her house. She installed one in the upper floor of the Leaky Cauldron, to many of the more traditional patrons' confusion and dismay. Her father would live and die in those polite asphalt streets her mother had loved and left. But this place was Hannah's roots, too, this hidden street, the way it wasn't quite one world's or the other's.
Hannah built potted gardens on all the little balconies and windowsills of the tavern. Her flowers bloomed even in the dead of winter, because Hannah had never been against making her own sunshine when the world did not supply.
Things moved on. The children that came to sip butterbeer at her counter knew nothing of war or friends lost. Hannah taught her tavern girls how to tend herbs, flowers, and she took classes and long lunches with local healers to learn how to help people grow strong, too. When Madame Pomfrey up at the castle started talking about retiring, Hannah walked up to Hogwarts to ask the Headmistress about the position. She walked out with a job offer and a lot of studying to do.
Afterwards, Hannah went down to Greenhouse Three, past that little patch of heartbroken ground, and found her husband elbows-deep in a bush. She pulled on her gardening gloves, pressed a kiss to Neville's rumpled head, and dug her hands into the work.
Life is something you bury in the soil. Sometimes it felt like all of Hannah's life could be summarized in graveyards and gardens.
This is about burying things. This is about letting them grow.