Disclaimer: I don't own Harry Potter. That honour goes to JK Rowling and whoever she decides to share the rights with.

I'm sorry if it seems choppy - I'm still getting used to adding dialogue.

-oOo-

"This isn't working out."

The woman had tears in her eyes and he felt like worst kind of heel. This couldn't be helped, though, and he refused to change his mind. This affair had gone on long enough. Rain was falling around him in a heartbreaking rhythm that seemed to define his life and he was drenched to the bone.

It was no less than he deserved.

He wished, for a moment, that things were different, that circumstances allowed him to be with the one he loved. He closed his eyes in pain.

If wishes were thestrals, and all that rot.

"Rabastan," she pleaded, but he couldn't let her continue and put a hand up to stop her.

"I'm sorry, I truly am, but I can't give you what you want. I cannot love you." The cab honked behind him and Rabastan hesitated a moment before kissing her cheek. "Live well."

He left before her tears could spill down her cheeks. It was for the best, he reminded himself. His heart belonged to someone else and he couldn't keep doing this to his wife. Though his heart remained true to her, what use was that when his body was the instrument of his betrayal? He could only pray for forgiveness.

He climbed into the cab and gave the man the address. New York had been a welcoming city for him and his wife, away from the disgusted glares and accusations of wizarding England. It was a new start for them. He was happier than he'd thought he'd be in muggle America, with the occasional trips to the magical side. He had his wife at his side and she was more than he deserved, but he was a selfish man and was unwilling to let her go. It was enough.

Her friends hated him, understandably so. He wasn't a good man and it was a long, difficult road before he found his wife, the woman who brought him into the light. When he first saw her battling in the Department of Mysteries he knew he'd kill for her. He had killed for her, that very night. He hadn't liked Jugson anyway.

He had managed to escape before the Aurors arrived and from there it wasn't difficult to find where she lived. Rabastan had been appalled at the lack of wards surrounding her home and cursed the ineptitude of the Order. He spent weeks observing her before finally approaching and from there it was a whirlwind of interrogations, mistrust, and a plea for just one chance. His loyalty belonged to only her and it was her opinion that mattered to him the most. They grew closer over time and he found his efforts rewarded when she cornered him one night in the kitchen and kissed him. He smiled at the memory.

His magic had been temporarily bound after the war and his wrists bore the tattooed shackles that signified his handicap. It nearly broke him, but she taught him how to live without. His gratitude was immeasurable, he would have surely died without her support. Without her love.

He let out a sigh, disgusted with himself. Could she find it in her heart to forgive him his transgression?

"Stop!" he blurted out and he grimaced at the driver's glare. "My apologies. Would you mind stopping at that flower shop? It's important."

The man gave him an understanding smile and did as he wished, idling the car as he dashed inside the shop. The young woman behind the counter looked barely out of school. Her nametag read Stacy and her perky, "How may I help you?" nearly drove him to look elsewhere.

His mother had taught him and his brother about flowers and what they meant when they were boys. The language of flowers had been a fading relic of history by then and he had dismissed the lessons as unimportant, choosing instead to spend time outside roughhousing with Rodolphus or flying on his broom. He regretted that now.

He loathed sharing personal information with this child but there was no alternative. He took a deep breath and told her, "I require flowers that convey forgiveness and unending love."

The shop attendant nodded enthusiastically and directed him to a few selections. She spotted his ring and asked, "Bad fight with your wife?" Thankfully, she didn't wait for an answer. "I've just the thing."

The bouquet she handed him was beautiful. He thanked her and made his escape before the energetic young woman could invade his privacy any further. The cab driver pulled out once he closed the door and he was grateful for the man's silence. His hands shook when they arrived at his destination.

"Do you want me to circle the place a bit?" he asked Rabastan. He met the driver's eyes in the mirror and the man gestured towards his quivering hands and the flowers that trembled with the movement. He stilled them. "It looks like you need time."

Rabastan looked at the man thoughtfully. He looked old enough to be relaxing in retirement. His face was open and understanding. The former Death Eater found no trace of pity and nodded once, firmly. The driver turned his meter off and continued to drive.

"Rabastan Lestrange," he offered the kind stranger.

"Richard Pearce."

"Do you think she'll forgive me?" he asked after their third time around the block.

Brows furrowed in confusion. "Who?"

"My wife." His hand tightened around the bouquet. "Do you think she'll forgive my weakness?"

Richard was quiet as he made another turn and brought the cab to a halt. He parked the vehicle and tuned to face his passenger. "I'm she'll understand if you explain everything." He studied Rabastan for a long, uncomfortable moment. "It won't get any easier, lad, the longer you wait."

Rabastan was unable to hold in a flinch. "Right, then." He made no move to get out.

"Would you like some company? I'm off duty now, anyway."

The younger man nodded hesitantly and he climbed out before his courage fled. Together, they made the way to his wife's place, the path long ago memorised. He tried to control his breathing, he needed to be calm. He gestured to his companion once he neared and the man held back to give him privacy.

He knelt and laid the flowers before her. He closed his eyes and took a deep, steadying breath. When he opened them they showed none of the fear he felt inside. "Hello, Hermione."

The silence was overwhelming, but she was always silent these days. He didn't let that deter him.

"I have something to tell you, and I can only hope you find it within yourself to forgive me..."

-oOo-

Several steps behind him, Richard Pearce angled himself away from the pair, feeling like an intruder. He didn't know what possessed him to come along. The man with the strange name had looked incredibly sad, an expression bordering defeat and despair had lined his face and Richard found the words tumbling from his mouth before he could stop them.

He had been in Rabastan's position before. His heart still ached.

He tilted his head, curious despite himself. From his position he could just make out the words.

Hermione Lestrange

19. September 1979 - 19. September 2004

Wife. Friend.

Hero