Post-canon story. Angsty af. Also short.
She found him in the kitchen as always. Neither of them could sleep well when the year came round to this particular time and it was a matter of when, not if, one of them would wake up and make their way to the kitchen to make tea for when the other would follow.
He had already prepared the tea and she poured herself a cup, sitting down across from him. They had a routine in place for these nights. They talked very little and never about that. The tea always tasted bad, having been left to steep for too long. Eventually, one of them would move closer to the other until their hands or legs touched and they remained that way until the morning.
Maybe it was wrong to still grieve so much after so many years.
Maybe they should do as the others did and move on, letting the wounds close.
Maybe was such an useless notion to them. Maybe was just a step above a what if.
What if they had done more? What if they had tried harder, moved faster, made different choices? What if?
What-ifs and maybes didn’t change the most important fact.
What good was all the strength in the world when you failed to protect those you cared about?
Because that was what no one else would understand. What no one else could understand. This was their penance.
This week or so when they let the burden of their failures fall on them fully.
They couldn’t forget. They wouldn’t let each other forget. It was one of the many things that kept them together. The awareness of just how human and imperfect they could be. The awareness of how much being human and imperfect had cost them.
They wanted the reminders. These few nights, the heavy silences, the badly tasting tea, the timid touches, those were all parts of who they were. They shouldered their failures together and it became easier to bear them.
And even the tea tasted less like tar when they drank it from each other’s lips.