They stayed lost in the embrace for several minutes. The older witch holding on tight to the younger and refusing to let her go. Trying to anchor her, to allow her to find her footing in the emotional turmoil that had been ripping her apart. "It will get better, it will take time and you will loose your way once or twice, but you will survive. Merlin, you have survived so much and are still here to battle through this."
"I don't think I have any fight left for this battle." Hermione sniffed into the shoulder of her former professor. "I... I'm," sniff. "I'm lost and I don't know how to find my way back."
Minerva tightened her arms further, at this moment words were not going to get through to her. She therefore allowed her to hand to roam upwards and thread its way through the dishevel mess that was the young woman's hair. "Will you be okay to side along with me?" The request whispered into the brunette's hair.
Hermione pulled back and dared to tilt her head to look into the emerald eye staring at her with concern and understanding, "would you mind if we didn't? I have had a quite a bit to drink and the idea of that is making me quite queasy. Can you..." Hermione was reluctant to become a burden on the woman she was sure would have a hundred and one things to do. To allow her to be burdened with yet another thing, and thinking so little of herself she felt extremely unworthy of help from anyone. Isn't that why she had hidden away and drunk herself into oblivion every night for the past few weeks?
"Can I what my dear?" Minerva enquired, raising an eyebrow in question.
"Can you walk me home," The young woman refused to meet the eye of the elder a she made her request, feeling like a child in the presence of such strength and power that this stoic woman had always been to her. "It's the dead of night and I think the walk will help clear my head. I don't want to take you away from anything that is important though. You have more important things to be doing. Of course you do. It won't take too long I only live..."
Hermione was cut off, "You are important, you are not taking me away from anything and I will enjoy the stroll myself, so let's get out of here and into the warmth and see what I can do to help you." Minerva turned them in the direction of the young woman's home and with that the they began to walk. She kept her arm securely round the young woman's waist, giving her the support physically to keep moving forward and perhaps see that forward was the only direction she had left to go.
Hermione felt the arm against her back and relished in the first human contact she had had since the battle. The last person she had touched had been Bellatrix Lastrange. The cold clammy hands she had grasped to pull her away from the survivors and out of sight had transferred their chill and it had penetrated into the depths of her soul. Feeling the gentle warmth against her back slowly spreading and settling into weary muscles. With each footstep it penetrated further, and as the minute passed she felt a little stronger. Each time a foot passed in front of the other her legs felt less heavy.
Minerva was noticing the slight changed in the young woman and by the time they had silently reached her front door there was more resemblance to the distinctive bounce in Hermione's step that she had witnessed over the passed seven years. "Do you mind if I come in and make sure you are safe?"
Hermione's eyes widened as she looked up into the eyes of the elder. Her house was in no state to entertain visitors let alone someone she had looked up to and someone she held so highly. Even though she felt more human than she had in weeks in the presence of this woman shame of the state of her abode would force her to deny entry. However, as she opened her mouth to say just this she was stalled as Minerva's free hand was raised, "Do not forget what you have just seen my dear. I have been where you are and I am under no illusion if you have failed to look after yourself in the past few weeks you most certainly will not have had a second glance as where you have sequestered yourself," a gentle smile tugging at her lips. "I do not care what state your home is in, I care that you are safe and the only way for me to do so is to accompany you inside," an eyebrow quirked. "Is that agreeable?"
Hermione blinked at the kind words. Not an hour ago she had been screaming at this woman and treating her like she had nothing of value to give. Yet, here she was with nothing but tenderness and care for the young woman. She felt the familiar pang of guilt bubble within her as tears which had been stalled by Minerva's presence began to well in her eyes once more.
"This is not my home," it was barely a whisper but Minerva heard it clearly and waited for the young witch to continue. "It has never been a place I call home. Hog…" Voice cracking as the tears began to slide down her cheeks, "Hogwarts is the only place I would call my home. I'm so lost here and I have nothing to anchor me to hope, I have nothing to remind me of good times. This place will never be safe for me. I have no emotional attachment to it. I am only here as it is a place to stay, somewhere warm and dry and with a bed that is decidedly more comfortable than a camp bed." Her eyes sought the understanding that had been shown to her this evening and was relieved to see it shining back at her through emerald boaring into her. "I am however ashamed of what is inside here even though it is not something that I hold dear I should have taken better care of the place. You may enter but please do not judge me, wholly on what you see."
Minerva slid her hand from its place against Hermione's back up her spine across her shoulder and delicately down her arm slowly squeezing her hand allowing their fingers to intertwine. "I will never, ever judge you." Swiftly pointing her wand at the door, it swung open and the two women, hand in hand crossed the threshold.