Part 2

Foxgloves - plant that is source of digitalis: a tall plant that has numerous thimble-shaped purple or white flowers and is the source of the drug digitalis. Latin name: Digitalis purpurea

The sky was gray today, overcast with dark clouds rising over the horizon. It would rain. He hoped it did not, because he wanted to stay outside in the garden today. He didn't want to spend even a minute inside with his mother and father if he could help it.

His mother continued to look at him with worry in her eyes. His father looked at him with disappointment. His brothers looked at him with compassion and curiosity. His sister looked at him with abject pity. None of them knew what to do with him. They didn't know how to help him.

That was fine with him because he didn't want help. He didn't need help. He would figure everything out all on his own if only everyone would give him a little bit of time.

Going back to work, he pulled out a tuff of weeds away from the flower he just planted, and that was when he heard the sound of the creaky hinges of the gate. He didn't look up, but he knew who it was. It was her again. He waited patiently for her to speak.

"Looks like rain," she said, coming to stand beside him. As he was on his knees and he had to look up at her to look her in the eyes. Her eyes were warm. They were brown, but not an ordinary brown. They weren't an ugly brown, like the dirt under his knees. They weren't an average brown like leather or tree bark. Her eyes were brilliant brown, with gold flecks and dark rims and more knowledge and warmth in them than any other eyes he had ever seen.

She knelt down beside him. He almost flinched when she reached over him to pick up one of the flowers he had in the crate beside him, because her hair tickled his nose and her hand skimmed his thigh. Sitting upright, she handled the little flower carefully.

"Oh," she said with an inhalation of breath. "I've always loved foxgloves. You probably already know this, but foxgloves are the plant that is the source of digitalis, an important medicine for the heart. The Latin name is: Digitalis purpurea."

She smiled and then held the small purple flower out to him. He took it quickly – he didn't want to accidentally touch her skin – and he placed it in the hole he'd just made.

He loved the sound of her voice. It was melodic and soothing. Sometimes, he almost felt in on his skin, like a whisper of a caress. He heard it beating in his heart, like a snare drum. He felt in his soul, like a symphony of something so pure and untouched that he felt washed with light just at the sound of it.

"Your mum told me that you've been tending to the garden almost everyday since your return," she stated, sitting back on her bum.

Deciding not to look at her, he dug another small hole about five centimeters from the first hole.

"I didn't know if you'd want to talk to me today or not, since you weren't so incline yesterday, but I'm pretty tenacious, as you well know, so I thought I'd give it another go today."

Leaning over, he began to pat the earth around the new flower, only to find that she had decided to do the same thing at the same time. Their hands touched – hers on top of his.

Turning his head slowly toward her, he knew he should remove his hands, but he didn't want to. Her hands were warm. He craved the warmth. Swallowing the tight knot in his throat, he finally slid his hands out from under hers and moved over to the next little piece of earth. Grabbing his hand shovel, he dug deeply into the hard packed soil.

"I decided to come out here everyday, even if I make a nuisance of myself, because someone who's suffered a traumatic injury like you've suffered, surely must need to talk to someone. I decided that I'll be that someone for you, Charlie."

The spade in his hand dinged a rock as he dropped it in shock. Why would she want to help him? They had never really had any prior relationship. She was merely his little brother's best friend, and nothing more. He might want her to be more, but she wasn't, so why did she care?

She cared because she was a compassionate person, and for no other reason. She couldn't possibly have deeper feelings for him. She couldn't possibly care for him the way he cared for her. When he finally realized that, he reached for the rock and threw it over his shoulder.

Handling another small, white flower in his hands, he placed it in the hole he'd just made and moved on to plant another.

Hermione sat down at that point, with her legs out in front of her. Crossing her legs at the ankles, she said, "I know you must not want to burden your family by talking to them, but I figured you might want to talk to someone. I'm here for you, Charlie. You must know I would never judge you. You can tell me anything."

She sneezed at that point. He looked up at her with heavy eyes and a heavier heart. What did she want from him? Couldn't she see that no amount of talking would clean his conscience? No amount of talking would set his heart free from the bindings that were wrapped around it. Couldn't she tell that his soul was an empty vessel, never to be filled again.

He wished she would just go away and leave him alone. His family stopped trying to talk to him about his accident months ago. Why wouldn't she stop?

Then, as if she'd read his mind, she said, "I'll go for today. But I'm only going because I just felt a raindrop. You might want to come inside, too, but if not, try not to get too wet. I'll come back tomorrow." She stood and walked up next to him, reached down her hand, and placed it gently upon his hair. She leaned over just as he looked up. She stared directly into his eyes and said, "I promise I'll come back, whether you talk to me or not, okay?"

With that said, she turned and walked away.

Charlie felt a fat rain drop fall from the sky and land on his cheek. He looked up and thought that perhaps the sky was crying for him. Perhaps the sky and the earth and the air and the sun cared about him as much as this woman seemed to care.

That would be a nice thought, wouldn't it?

A/N: Part 3 coming up. Also, the administrator at The Maple Bookshelf wanted me to let everyone know that July is considered open submission month, so if you ever wanted to submit a story but was afraid of rejection, or didn't have a beta, etc, well, here is your chance to post one. You must still follow the rules and regulations of the site, but you are more than welcome to post a story over there this month if you so desire! They accept all fandoms.