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That which hath gone before | That which followeth

Gift for Droxy

Dear Droxy, here's a small gift for you on your birthday. I hope you enjoy it, and I hope very much that this coming year brings you success in all you turn your hand to, and enough leisure time to enjoy it. *hugs*

Title: "Watching"
Author: duh
Warnings: cat!fic
Characters: Crookshanks, Severus, Hermione



The first years of exile were peaceful. He continued to observe closely, as had been his habit since he'd first realised that forewarned is forearmed, but he didn't let anyone know he was still around. It was refreshing to be the object of neither remark nor regard.

In himself, he felt better than he had in years. True, his neck itched from the bite, but that was a minor inconvenience – nothing that a good scratch couldn't deal with. And of course, with nobody looking at him, he could indulge in a good scratch whenever he liked.

He watched.

He watched their grief and elation fade.

He watched Potter and his shadow leave for the Aurory.

He watched Granger doggedly complete her studies and depart.

He watched Minerva become the best Head that Hogwarts had ever had.

He watched his world settle down into its customary patterns, a little chastened but otherwise unchanged.

He kept mostly to his quarters, but still, he knew what went on. He supposed he should be grateful that the settling of the castle's foundations had rendered his part of the dungeons apparently inaccessible. Filius and the others had long given up trying to shift the huge blocks of stone. It was peaceful, and calm, and free of children. Once one had the knack of getting in and out, it was, in fact, the best of all places to be. Positively cosy.

For a few years, he was the only one who had that knack.

Then Granger's scraggy old cat showed up.

She had returned to the school to teach, still bossy, still book-obsessed, still single. No Weasley brats for her, then. Ah, yes. A few months after her return, the Prophet carried photos of Weasley's marriage to Pansy Parkinson, of all people. Granger wasn't featured in the photos of the wedding guests. It didn't seem to trouble her.

He kept up his observations, unseen, as he thought, until one day the cat showed up in his living room, curled on the chair where he had been intending to spend the evening immersed in a book. He removed the ugly brute, noting that it seemed to have regained weight and condition, and sat down. Two minutes later, it was back, acting as though his lap was its property. He continued to read while he teased the knots out of its fur.

Granger missed her cat, that much was evident.

She never got herself another, though she kept the orange demon's bed and bowls in her room.

He told the animal it ought to go back, show itself to her, but it remained pressed against his ankles, watching, like him, from the shadows as she mourned and recovered and grew older, settling into her position at the school and progressing inevitably to the headship that awaited her.

He and the cat continued in their comfortable way. A deep armchair, a cheerful fire, books to read, a little undemanding companionship ... That was all that either of them needed in their bachelor existence. Though if they did spend increasing amounts of time silently observing Granger, who seemed to live as separately from the world as they, well, that was just curiosity and fellow-feeling.

He thought sometimes that she might be aware of their scrutiny.

Now and again, her eyes would fix on the shadows they inhabited, and she would tuck that stray curl of hair behind her ear and smile gently before turning back to her work.

He and the cat stayed clear of all the shenanigans following her departure. There was simply too much noise and activity. How they would continue without her, though, was a question he addressed in a lengthy and one-sided conversation over several days, the cat's only contribution being to blink at him and demand to have its head rubbed.

Eventually, he found the castle too confining. He slipped out unnoticed and crossed the lawns, heading down towards the forest path, its borders star-strewn with wood anemones. Nobody else was on the grounds at this early hour, so he was surprised when he turned to look back at the source of a sudden burst of birdsong and saw her following him down the path, her cat trotting at her heels.

He let her catch up.

She smiled widely at him. There were a few wrinkles at the corners of her eyes, but her hair was free of the grey that had marred it for decades, and she had abandoned her cane. She was barefoot, and her hair bounced around her shoulders.

“You took your time,” he said. “I've been through the entire library twice.”

“I had a few things to finish.”

She took his hand, and they followed the cat through the trees to a sun-drenched clearing.

Comments

( 26 comments — Leave a comment )
averygoodun
Jan. 28th, 2010 01:28 pm (UTC)
Lovely...
dickgloucester
Jan. 29th, 2010 04:30 pm (UTC)
Thanks!
shefa
Jan. 28th, 2010 01:58 pm (UTC)
Oh, gorgeous. What a moving twist on the usual sort of tale -- the parallel existences, linked by Crookshanks. The silent respect for one another, for each one's solitude and need to heal--no matter the plane of existence. And ultimately, a coming together as if they'd been together all along. Brava!

Edited at 2010-01-28 02:01 pm (UTC)
dickgloucester
Jan. 29th, 2010 04:31 pm (UTC)
Thank you!
bluestocking79
Jan. 28th, 2010 04:35 pm (UTC)
~sniffles~

This is really beautiful, Dicky, and very moving--all the more so for being subtle and understated. I love their awareness of each other, even across time and the barrier between the living and dead. For that matter, I love your vision of the afterlife, which gives them the best parts of existence while cutting out all the annoyances, limitations and demands of day-to-day life. Crookshanks is perfect as the one to tie them together, and I find his rapport with Severus to be very believable.

Most of all, bravo for writing a death fic that fills me with joy instead of sorrow.
dickgloucester
Jan. 29th, 2010 04:33 pm (UTC)
Thank you!

I see Severus and Crookshanks as the two characters Hermione would most likely be able to love with a deep, abiding love, and so I wanted them together somehow. And for Droxy, one has to write death fic, doesn't one?
camillo1978
Jan. 28th, 2010 06:34 pm (UTC)
Awwwww! Ghost!Crookshank

A happy ever after ;-)
dickgloucester
Jan. 29th, 2010 04:33 pm (UTC)
Thanks!
alwaysimploding
Jan. 28th, 2010 07:29 pm (UTC)
A unique perspective on the ghost theme. Very sweet and I find the sort of drifting unawareness of time to be very believable, time would be unimportant to a ghost.

Thanks for sharing =)
dickgloucester
Jan. 29th, 2010 04:34 pm (UTC)
Thank you!
droxy
Jan. 28th, 2010 09:24 pm (UTC)
Oh this is so so lovely in tone. You got it all in there too. Death, ghosts, romance, AND Crookshanks!
dickgloucester
Jan. 29th, 2010 04:34 pm (UTC)
Happy birthday, my dear. *hugs*
lulabelle72
Jan. 28th, 2010 11:23 pm (UTC)
Firstly: Author: duh Really, I laughed so hard. It's the little things, Dicky, I tell ya.

Next: Oh, this. How did I miss this? Thanks to Droxy for linking. You really had me, all the way until the end, and then I was like, "Brilliant! Excellent! Most unusual and wonderful!"

This is actually a sort of story that I love very much, Afterlife etc, and I'm thrilled to read this. Well done.

Oh, I forgot: this line: his world settle down into its customary patterns, a little chastened but otherwise unchanged.


I don't know why, but I love this description of the world after the war. It's really sticking with me.
dickgloucester
Jan. 29th, 2010 04:35 pm (UTC)
Hee!

Thank you! Thank you so much.
lurkerfromoz
Jan. 29th, 2010 04:33 am (UTC)
Lovely! I like the idea of Severus and Crookshanks watching and waiting until she could join them.
dickgloucester
Jan. 29th, 2010 04:36 pm (UTC)
Thank you!
daya_slyth
Jan. 29th, 2010 10:15 am (UTC)
Oh. Oh!

*sniff*

This was lovely. And made me want to hug my cat lots and lots. Normally I can see a 'ghost' twist coming a mile off but this time I didn't.
dickgloucester
Jan. 29th, 2010 04:37 pm (UTC)
Oooh - I'm so glad I caught you out! *bounces*

Thank you!
labrt2004
Jan. 29th, 2010 07:35 pm (UTC)
Wow, I've never been so *happy* after reading deathfic! It must be the kitteh. :-) Well done, and thank you!
dickgloucester
Jan. 30th, 2010 09:03 pm (UTC)
LOL - thanks!
ozarkmoon
Apr. 8th, 2010 02:24 am (UTC)
Oh my, how wonderfully this ended. Where is my tissue box?!
dickgloucester
May. 9th, 2011 10:24 am (UTC)
I'm so sorry - I didn't see this comment at the time. I suppose LJ was having a comment notification hiccup.

Thank you so much for reading and commenting on this story. *passes a belated box of tissues*
mscoco62
May. 7th, 2011 11:58 pm (UTC)
HI
I LOVED THIS BOTH KINDA LONELY AND A CAT LOL.I HAVE FOLLOWED YOUR FICS FOR A LONG TIME AND NOW IM GONNA ADD THIS TO MY LIST. THANK YOU.
dickgloucester
May. 9th, 2011 08:46 am (UTC)
Re: HI
It makes me happy to make a reader happy. This fic now has a special place in my heart because it made someone yell in capslock! *hugs you for leaving a comment that made my day*
delphipsmith
Jan. 7th, 2012 10:24 pm (UTC)
I love how quiet and gently-paced this is. I was a bit slow on the uptake -- I didn't twig that he (or the cat) was a ghost until the line about them inhabiting the shadows, but I love the idea of him and Crookshanks and their "bachelor existence." The last few lines made my choke up more than a little *snif*. Excellent. (I regret it took me a year to stumble across it!)

Edited at 2012-01-07 10:24 pm (UTC)
montara81
Dec. 1st, 2013 04:32 pm (UTC)
After death
Life after death. And love. I'm sad that they had to die to find happiness but, at least, they've found it.
( 26 comments — Leave a comment )