FIC: "Moments in Love" for noeon Recipient:noeon Author:kinky_kneazle Title: Moments in Love Rating: PG Pairings: Poppy Pomfrey/Pomona Sprout Word Count: 3,500 Warnings: None Summary: Poppy has known Pomona Sprout since her Hogwart's days. And she just keeps falling in love with the woman. Author's Notes:noeon, you wrote that you were interested in gen fic featuring Poppy or Pomona and something about seeing those names together spoke to me. This is a look at different moments in their lives together. With love to Jackie, who is not a part of fandom, but who is always happy to beta my work, as long as there are no dirty bits.
The first time Poppy Pomfrey realised she loved Pomona Smith was during the summer between their sixth and seventh years at Hogwart's. Poppy had just turned seventeen, and her birthday present was permission to visit her best friend in the Muggle village where she lived. Poppy had never seen a fully Muggle house before: her mother's Muggle parents had died before Poppy was born so she had never visited. So this cottage on a farm where people had electricity and started fires in the grates with something called matches provided endless fascination.
Of course, Pomona wanted to show Poppy more of the Muggle world and suggested to her parents that they be allowed to go into town to the cinema. On the Town was showing, with Frank Sinatra and Gene Kelly. Pomona's parents said no, two seventeen year old girls alone in the town were a recipe for trouble and they didn't have time to chaperone. Unfortunately, being Muggles, Pomona's parents didn't really comprehend the trouble two witches who had just come of age could get up to.
"We'll take the motorbike. It's an American one that they left behind after the war." They were in the barn closest to the house, and next to two old nags, in an empty stall, was a machine painted olive drab, a colour they'd all become accustomed to in the decade before. It was marked with the words Harley Davidson and consisted of one part with two wheels and a second, squat container next to it. "My da liberated it, he says, from the base they had near by. Bike." She pointed at the two-wheeled part. "Sidecar." The squat container had a name as well.
"Do you even know how to make it work?"
"Sure," said Pomona. "Da taught me in the summer between second and third years. Hop in."
"Pomona, we'll get in trouble."
"What can they do to us? We're adults, free to do as we please, and go and see On The Town if we wish."
Poppy was always the voice of reason, but in reality she liked giving in to Pomona, liked to feel wild and free and she knew there was never a question that she would do this. So she climbed in to the sidecar and watched as Pomona stood and stomped on something on the other side of the bike. She squealed at the sound that suddenly echoed through the barn. It sounded like a beast of some sort, something that Grindelwald would have used against them - the sort of thing that the seventh years had told stories about to scare them during those first years at Hogwarts when war in both the Muggle and Wizarding worlds was still tainting their every action. But she heard Pomona laughing and knew that this was normal.
"Get the door!" Pomona shouted over the sound of the beast.
"Alohamora!" The doors flew open before them and they went cruising into the night. Poppy swung her head and saw Pomona's Da standing at the front door waving his arms.
"We can make it fly!"
"Mona! The road!"
Pomona turned her head and swerved the bike. Poppy was sure her eyes were as bewildered as those of the sheep as they just missed colliding with it. The bike slowed and stopped.
"We can make it fly," Pomona said, looking straight into her eyes.
"What, you just want to say wingardium leviosa and hope for the best?"
"Between the two us, I don't see why it wouldn't work."
Pomona twisted her wrist and the bike got louder. "Are you ready?"
They were rising and Pomona twisted her other wrist and they shot off into the night, the new moon hiding their flight from anyone on the ground that happened to look up searching for two teenage girls flying an old army-issue motorbike around the sky. Poppy could do nothing except laugh as the wind whipped through her hair. She leant forward, looking over the side of the sidecar to see the buildings like toys below them.
"We're doing it!" She looked across at Pomona who was as solid and wild as she always was, sitting in the saddle of the motorbike. She was earth and fire, tied solidly to the ground but always willing to start the next wildfire that would bring them danger and that certain knowledge that they were alive.
That's when it hit her. When Pomona looked at her, the fire lighting her eyes, her mouth opened as the wind captured her exhilarated laugh, Poppy felt her heart contract and she knew with certainty that she loved Pomona and would forever.
Years later, when she heard Sirius Black had got himself a flying motorbike she remembered smugly her night with Pomona and knew that they had done it first.
Love cannot be a constant ache in the heart, as at that first moment of realisation. That piece of the other's soul that was stolen as she steered a motorbike miles above the fields of England and laughed at the sheer joy of it, that shard that is embedded into the heart, it finds its own place there. Flesh heals over it and the love becomes a dull ache, if that, until the moment the heart constricts or the shard is jostled and the joy and pain come alive once more and you fall in love all over again.
For Poppy, that shard was reawakened in London when she and Pomona were still apprentices, on the first steps of their careers. Pomona was at the Wizarding branch of the Royal Botanical Society, up to her elbows in dragon dung and loving every moment of it. Poppy was under the strict chaperonage of Matron Dawlish at St Mungo's, loving the work even as she hated still living in a dormitory and being under even more strict control than she had been at Hogwart's. This was in the days when apprentice healers all lived in a building behind the hospital and were not allowed out at night or on weekends or for any reason except to cross the street into St Mungo's for one of the twelve shifts they were expected to work each week. For the men, with Hippocrates Smethwyck in charge of them, poker games and firewhiskey were the norm. For the women, lights out was strictly enforced, and Poppy didn't even have Pomona there to conspire with.
On one of her rare days away from the hospital she arranged to have lunch with Pomona. Poppy wrote every day, but Pomona had always been lax with her correspondence, and she was far happier in her apprenticeship than Poppy was. Poppy hadn't realised that there was another reason for Pomona's lack of letters until she saw the diamond sparkling on her best friend's ring finger.
"He's just a perfect gentleman," Pomona gushed. "So considerate of me, and always interested in where I've been and who I've been seeing. And then there's his name!"
Poppy could only raise an eyebrow.
"It's Sprout! I'll be Mrs Oliver Sprout. I'm going to be a herbologist and my name will be Sprout!" Her full-throated laughter echoed through The Leaky Cauldron and Poppy knew she was not the only person in the room admiring her friend's obvious joy for life. But Poppy was the only one whose heart was also constricted in pain at the thought of her beautiful friend belonging to someone else before Poppy had even figured out how to put her feelings into words.
So she only grinned and said she'd get the day off to be at the wedding and yes, of course she'd be the maid of honour, she'd be honoured in fact.
As her heart constricted and that shard wedged deeper in her heart she fell in love with Pomona Smith, soon to be Sprout, all over again, while realising that she could never, ever, have what her heart desired.
It was two years after the wedding that Pomona walked into St Mungo's sporting a shiner and a large gash across her cheek. Poppy was in the last days of her apprenticeship and was trying to decide on what would come next.
"Did you lose a fight with a bouncing bulb?" she asked of her best friend as she touched her wand gently to the gash. In response, Pomona Sprout, who had an indomitable spirit and abundant joy in her life, burst into tears.
"I need somewhere to stay," she said as she came to the end of her story. "He'll always hold my parents against me, but really it's just an excuse. He hits me because he likes to. It will never end. I don't suppose I can stay here, can I? You can hide me in your dorm?"
Poppy thought of the letter she had received a week ago. "Poppy," it read.
"I understand that you're coming to the end of your apprenticeship and come highly recommended by all who have worked with you. Considering your level of skill I would understand if you want to go into research, but Hogwarts is in desperate need of a new school matron as Dittany Curie has decided to retire. If you are looking for something different for a few years, or more, I hope you would consider coming back here. As I'm sure you remember we have patients galore.
"We are also short a Herbology Professor. If you know of anyone in the field who would be interested in teaching I'd appreciate you forwarding their names on to me. In the current climate research in this field is far more appealing than teaching it and we're having trouble filling the position.
"Yours, Minerva McGonagall"
Circe was looking out for them. She admitted Pomona for observation for a few days and penned a reply to Minerva, letting her know that they'd arrive before the end of the week. She only hoped that the familiar greenhouses of Hogwarts would heal her friend's spirit as well as she had been able to heal her friend's face.
They had never left of course, but had settled down into the normal tedium of school life. Pomona had begun to smile spontaneously once more, and even after a good scourgify her hands never lost the soil that seemed embedded in them. Poppy's heart had gone back to its normal equilibrium. And if Poppy's eyes lingered on the curves of Pomona's hips as she finished her potting when Poppy arrived for their Friday afternoon tea and catch up, then it wasn't hurting anyone, so there was no harm.
Pomona turned and Poppy held out the cake she'd brought in offering. "I went to the kitchens and got a couple of slices of banana cream caramel pie."
Poppy used the opportunity to rant about Dumbledore's presumptuousness.
"It's not that I mind him being here, you understand. You've had him in your classes, you must see what a lovely young boy he is. But there must be a better way to manage his condition than locking him in that shack to tear himself to shreds once a month."
"Oh, dear. Was it the full moon last night? I was meant to plant some lunalings."
"No, it's tonight. I was complaining in advance."
"Are you still doing research into curing the curse?"
"I'm finding myself with very little time. This current crop, especially the Gryffindors, is keeping me busy with the day to day problems of running an infirmary. Damocles Belby is working on a way to control the curse. I've sent my notes to him."
Poppy watched as Pomona raised another forkful of pie to her lips, licking the cream from the top before slipping the morsel into her mouth. Twenty years after she first realised she was in love with Pomona Sprout, moments like that reminded her that the shard in her heart was still there, that despite the fact that both of them had moved to middle age, she could still feel desire, ever burning for this woman.
"You're looking at my lips again."
"I'm not," was her immediate denial, although the heat on her cheeks must surely give her away.
"I was blind to it for so long, blinded by my own grief at my marriage. But we've been here over ten years and you've loved me that whole time, haven't you?"
"Please, Mona. You were never meant to know."
She heard the sound of a chair moving and turned away further when a hand touched her leg.
"I just want to know why you never kissed me."
She spun and was surprised to find Pomona's face mere inches from hers. It was a different face to the one she fell in love with. Even though she was still young for a witch, lines were beginning to shoot out from Pomona's eyes and Poppy knew it was from the same sort of laughter that had burst from her on the night Poppy fell in love with her. Most of her hair was still the same earthy colour as the soil she dug her hands in to every day, but gray was starting to shoot through the frizzy curls. And too much Hogwarts food had broadened the curves so that she resembled the rich and abundant earth that she worked with every day.
"You look like a goddess."
And then Pomona's lips were on hers, tentative and warm and caramelly and Poppy knew that any crushes, those few flings she'd had in the last twenty years were nothing compared to the way this woman's curves fit against hers. And she fell in love again.
It was a quiet relationship. It's not that they hid from the other staff and students, more that they never advertised what they were. Their days were full of students and scrapes, but their nights were full of each other. In those dark days of Voldemort's rise they found a quiet spot of warmth and light. And it was safer this way, Poppy told herself. Safer that no one knew Pomona could be used against her. She patched up Dumbledore's fighters; she could be a target, so better to keep Pomona safe.
Hagrid was the one that brought the boy to her. He was a wild mix of his parents, all dark, messy hair and brilliant green eyes and he slept peacefully without realising the furore he'd caused on that day. Without realising, he'd become an orphan on that day.
Classes had been cancelled and although there had been a Halloween feast the night before, a second feast was planned with a party afterwards. Poppy could see students running wild across the grounds. Minerva had disappeared, but Filius was setting off fireworks and every now and then a squeal of delight drifted in through her open window. Poppy was staying in the infirmary with her patient, the only person known to have survived the killing curse.
She counted ten little fingers and ten little toes, chubby limbs that kicked out happily when he was awake, a tiny fist that he sucked on while he slept. She ran the diagnostic spells for the tenth time - once an hour since he was brought in. There was nothing wrong with him, only one little scratch marring his forehead. She handed the boy back to Hagrid who was taking him to Albus to hide.
She wasn't sure she could celebrate, given what this little boy had given up for them all, but she went to the Great Hall anyway. The professors had obviously been drinking, some of the students as well, and parents and Dumbledore's Order had come to join the celebrations, wanting to be all together on this day of days.
Someone touched her on the shoulder and Poppy turned, only to find herself swept up in familiar arms.
“We're alive!” Pomona whispered in her ear. Then she was being kissed with a fervour that spoke of the fear Pomona had been living in and the relief she was feeling now. And there was passion, there was joy, there was a desperateness that Poppy knew and met and matched, her hands knocking Pomona's hat off as they threaded into her hair. The cat calls and whistles finally broke through to her conscious mind and she broke away and rested her forehead against Pomona's as she caught her breath.
“I think they know.”
“Good. I want everyone to know you're mine, Poppy. I want everyone to know how much I love you.”
And Poppy realised she was not one person anymore. She was PoppyandPomona and that was exactly how she wanted it to stay.
Poppy never realised it would be possible to love someone for fifty years, and keep loving them more each day as if love were an endless supply, a renewable resource, like the energy from the sun that beat down and kept Pomona's plants growing, giving its light even during the darkest days of winter.
She knew the students saw them as a couple of old spinsters, married to the school. They saw Poppy as strict, but caring. They saw Pomona as soft, but knowledgeable. They didn't see the wild in either of them that had sent them flying on a motorbike through the skies almost fifty years ago.
Until tonight, that was.
Rushing through the halls from the infirmary to the Great Hall with supplies she had seen her lover coming in the opposite direction, leading a gang of students to the top towers to throw mandrakes off the top. And that was just the start of it. Every time someone was brought to the Great Hall for treatment she'd ask for news. The greenhouses had overgrown into a great, thorny hedge, blocking an entrance to the school. Devil's Snare had taken over some hallways, keeping Deatheaters from making progress. Someone saw her step in front of Longbottom and begin a duel, fighting wand to wand as she hadn't in years. And every time she heard news, every moment she spent bent over the dying trying to repair damage, with every breath she took Poppy murmured a prayer to Circe. Keep her safe.
When Voldemort gave them that hour to tend to their dead and injured the trickle turned to a flood and every student or ex-student that had ever shown the slightest skill for healing was pressed into service. Every one of them still alive, she thought, blinking back tears as she thought of Remus Lupin lying still in another corner of the room. Still, the rush did not include Pomona and Poppy prayed that it was good news, that it meant she was fortifying defences and not lying dead beside her greenhouses.
Then that horrible voice echoed through the halls again and everyone who could move stumbled towards the entrance to see the body of Harry Potter brought to Hogwarts. Like everyone else she was in too much shock to cry until she heard Hagrid's wail and tears starting falling silently down her cheeks. It was then a hand snuck into hers and that familiar smell of soil and flowers reached her and she knew she should be grieving for Harry but now the tears came because she was so, so glad that Pomona was alive.
And then, as if in slow motion, they watched Neville pull a sword from somewhere and cut the head off the great snake and then all hell broke loose and suddenly Poppy was fighting for her life as well, her wand seeming to remember how to defend her even as she was still reeling.
“Poppy! Come on!”
She turned and followed Pomona back to the Great Hall and stood guard over her patients, sending hexes from afar where she could help and duelling whichever Deatheaters got too close. A shield burst to her side from somewhere behind her and she turned to see Hannah Abbott levering herself up to help in the defence despite the wounds that were still bleeding.
Then Harry revealed himself and everything stopped as they watched man and beast circle each other. Poppy couldn't breathe as Harry taunted Voldemort and she watched, teetering on a knife's edge until they both spoke and it was Voldemort who fell. The remaining Deatheaters put their wands down, some fled, but none were her problem. She turned in time to see Pomona waver, then sink to the ground.
“Mona!” she cried, using the old childish name that she'd stopped using years ago and taking the few short steps to her side.
“I'm fine. I'm just,” Pomona looked up into Poppy's eyes. "I'm just relieved. We're both alive."
Poppy felt her own legs weaken and she slumped next to Pomona. She let herself get wrapped in strong arms.
"We never need to move, do we?"
"No," Pomona replied.
As Poppy sat cocooned in Pomona's arms she sent a prayer of thanks to Circe. They were both alive. Her love had survived fifty years and could now live on for fifty more. She gave thanks that she had this moment to fall in love with Pomona all over again.