A/N: This was originally written for dmhgficexchange (Brew a Love Potion...). I really liked it though, so I'm posting it here too. A big thanks to my beta reader, Pennilyn Novus, for all her help!
And for those who don't know, Tintagel is a place on the coast of Cornwall. It's allegedly the birthplace of King Arthur. Now all that's left is a bunch of ruins of a castle on a beautiful cliff-side. It's really absolutely breath-taking.
"Ah! Merlin!" Draco swore as he blindly stubbed his toe for the fifteenth time that night. Morning. Whichever. And yes, he was counting.
"Hermione, is this really necessary?" he groaned.
Hermione chuckled and slowly shook her head.
"If you would just use the head torch I gave you, you'd be able to see, and have your hands free for balance," she said.
She scrambled up the rocky hillside with an ease that belied her fifty-some years, whilst Draco grumbled something about "damned undependable Muggle contraptions" as he followed.
He could hardly believe that he'd let Hermione pull him up and out of bed at such an ungodly hour. The sun hadn't even begun to rise yet, and here he was, dressed and climbing up to some damned cliff in Cornwall. But that's what twenty-five years of marriage will do to a man. Especially when that man's wife was the infamous Hermione Granger—nag extraordinaire. Shag extraordinaire too, which was, as Draco liked to say, the only reason he put up with her.
But at the moment, sex was not on Draco's mind. Instead, it was focused intently on placing one foot carefully in front of the other, and not keeling over from lack of oxygen to the brain.
"You...never...answeredmyquestion," Draco gasped out.
"Pardon?" asked Hermione, seating herself on a large boulder by the path.
They stopped for a breather (a much needed one; they weren't teenagers anymore, thank Merlin!) Hermione conjured a few snack bars for them, and they both removed the sweaters they no longer needed as the crisp morning air slowly warmed. The sky wasn't the inky blue-black it had been when they'd started, but had now bleached itself to an ever-lightening grey. They could just make out the deep green of the grass cushioning their feet and the shapes of the rocks and ruins around them. Draco lowered himself carefully beside Hermione and took a swig of water from his canteen.
"You never answered my question," Draco repeated, smiling as he handed her the canteen. "Is this death march really necessary?"
Hermione laughed again. "Do you know what your daughter Charlotte has gone and bought herself?"
"No, and don't change the subject!" Draco answered, taking back the water from her.
"A motorcycle. A flying one—it's a deathtrap!"
"Remind you of something else, my dear?"
"Sirius? Oooh, I knew I should've stopped Harry from telling her about that. Such ideas..." Hermione trailed off as Draco smirked and raised his eyebrows at her.
"...Draco! For the last time, this is not a death march!"
"Then what is it?"
" It's...Draco, it's our 25th anniversary today," Hermione said. She shifted closer to him, and laid her head on his shoulder.
"Twenty-five years together. We're fifty-one years old, the kids are growing up, and nothing's going to slow down just for us. There's so much I want to do. So many things to see and experience. And Draco...I feel old."
She looked up at him and reached her hand out to trace the faint creases of skin in his forehead. "We won't be here forever, Draco," she murmured.
Draco closed his eyes and sighed, his breath warming her face.
He held her close to him. They could both feel the fast beating of their hearts and the in and out of each other's breathing gradually calming.
"I know," Draco repeated, and placed a quick kiss on Hermione's hair. "But just because we're past the half-century mark doesn't mean we're going to drop dead tomorrow."
"But we don't know that's true," Hermione said. "We can't know what will happen tomorrow, or even what will happen in the next hour!"
"Well, I know that I will eat a nice big breakfast sometime in the next hour," Draco smiled.
"Of course dear, but still, hear me out. Anything can happen, and we can't stop it. It can all come so quickly. No warning, no nothing..."
"Is this about Bill Weasley?" Draco asked quietly.
"He was only 61 years old, Draco! He was healthy and happy, and then...boom! ...A heart-attack, and he's gone. Poor Fleur."
Draco nodded and tightened their embrace. He thought about how people always feel so sorry for the survivors. Not that they didn't need or deserve the sympathy, but what about the deceased? After the funeral, after the period of mourning, the memories begin to fade from the minds of those "left behind." Left behind? That didn't seem right. Left behind sounded like a dog who had been left in the house while its owners went on holiday. Dead people didn't get to go on holiday. They didn't get to go swimming in the ocean, get buried in the sand by their children, or hug and kiss their wives. No, Draco decided, it was not poor Fleur; it was poor Bill.
A tinge of orange peeped over the horizon, and the birds began twittering.
"I'm still curious," Draco spoke into Hermione's hair. "What does all this have to do with us climbing up Tintagel and watching the sunrise?"
"Oh," Hermione extricated herself from Draco's arms and sat up. "Right. That."
In the half-light, Draco could make out a faint blush on her cheeks.
"I said there were things I wanted to do before—before it's too late, and seeing a sunrise is one of those things. ...I read somewhere that everyone should watch a sunrise at least once in their life. And it just struck me that watching a sunrise at the birthplace of King Arthur would be something special. Romantic, you know," she shrugged.
"Just figures, doesn't it?" Draco laughed. "I should've guessed this'd come from a book somewhere."
Hermione smiled, but didn't answer. She didn't want to have to tell him that she'd actually read it off the back of a box of her favourite herbal tea.
"Oh!" she exclaimed, seeing the brightening horizon. "We should get going, if we want to make it to the top!"
Who says I want to get to the top? thought Draco as they resumed walking.
The next few minutes were spent in relative silence. The only sound was the steady rhythm of their deep breathing. When they finally reached the top of the cliff, the sunrise was in full-blast. Draco and Hermione sat on the edge with a grateful "hmph!" and drank in the magnificent colours before them. Rays of persimmon red and burnt orange exploded from the golden centre. They watched in awe as the shards of light splashed and sizzled onto the surface of the dark green sea, and they held each other tight. Draco couldn't imagine anything more beautiful than this phenomenon that had occurred every morning since the very first dawn and would continue right until the last.
"I wish this could go on forever," Hermione whispered.
"Me too," Draco whispered back, leaning his head on hers.
Even now, the sky was becoming that familiar shade of blue as the reds, pinks, and oranges of the sunrise were fading.
Hermione snuggled against him, and Draco felt a warm tingling and tugging in his chest. Draco knew that years from now, when they had both forgotten the exact colours of this sunrise, he would always remember the sensation of love that he felt right then and would associate it with sunrises in Cornwall. He realized then that everything makes some kind of impression and that impression can't be forgotten, even if its cause is. His and Hermione's children and their actions would be their unique marks on this world, and those marks were too wide-spread to be erased. The thought brought him great comfort.
The sun rose for them today, and tomorrow it would rise for someone else. He and Hermione would always be a part of that cycle, right until the very last dawn.