AN: Thank you all so much for the support! It is deeply appreciated!
The night was still. No owls hooted, no wind rustled through the trees, and no amnesiac lycanthrope aimed their wand at the mansion. On a night like tonight, it was not difficult to believe that one could put away the old year and begin anew.
Victor ran his finger along the window pane. There was a draft which chilled his fingers, but at least the icicles which had hung outside in the morning had melted.
He faced the doorway. "Hello Mum."
"Victor," she stepped closer to her son. "We have to leave soon. Are you ready?"
"I will be once I put on my cologne," he replied before walking towards a drawer up against the eastern wall. He grabbed a black bottle and popped off the cap.
"Remember not to put too much on," Hermione began.
He chuckled. "Trust me, I learned my lesson when I was sixteen. The last thing we'd want is for anyone to gag the night away."
"Poor Florence," Hermione sat on the oaken bed across the room. "At least you made it up to her with those chocolates."
"Only to find out she was allergic to peanut butter. Lucky for me, half the chocolates were peanut butter cups."
"I forgot that part."
Victor sprayed the cologne on his neck. "You tried to warn me that dating her would be a disaster. Once again you were right."
"Well, I thought that given her reputation she would cheat on you. I never suspected that you would give her hives," Hermione replied.
"You were trying to protect me." He turned to his mother. "I just didn't appreciate it at the time."
Hermione gave him a soft smile. "You had to learn from your mistakes just as I did. At least you were much smarter than I was at your age."
"Was I?" Victor asked.
Hermione shrugged. "You recognized that Florence was not right for you, and realized that you needed to give up the dream of being with her. Knowing when to quit is a lesson I only learned through bitter experience."
"Still, you did figure it out."
"Indeed I did."
Victor turned around and put the cap back onto the cologne bottle.
"Is there something on your mind?" Hermione asked.
He spun around. "Excuse me?"
"Is there something you would like to talk about?" she repeated.
"Mum," he replied. "As you pointed out earlier, we don't have time for a conversation. We need to leave in ten minutes."
"Despite what your hormones may tell you, the Malfoys and their New Years party can wait," she answered.
He gave her a sheepish grin. "You're being a mum right now."
"I would hope so, given that I am one," she answered.
Victor placed the bottle back onto the drawer.
"What is wrong?" Hermione asked.
"Do you promise not to become overly upset?"
"I will do my best to keep my emotions in check."
Victor sighed. "I keep thinking back to when you told me your cancer was in remission."
"I promised never to take you for granted again. I promised to listen to you and not make life more difficult," Victor sighed. "I couldn't keep that promise, and after some time I'd almost forgotten that I'd made it. I am so sorry for all times I ignored and defied you."
"Oh Victor, there is no need to apologize."
"Yes there is. There were so many times when you were trying to say something to me and I would roll my eyes, or I would grumble that you were exaggerating. Of course I'd always find out you were right, but you never lorded that over me."
"What would have been the point of embarrassing you? You had to make your own mistakes, just like I did."
"I should've listened to you more. I would have made your life much easier. I would have been a good son had I listened to you more."
"Oh baby," Hermione stood. "You're a good man, and have always been a great son."
"Every time I think about your cancer, I think about all the ways I let you down, or how I could have been a better son," Victor choked. "I feel like I've failed you."
She wrapped her arms around him and whispered into his ear, "You have never failed me as a son."
She held him tighter. "Even at your worst, you have never failed me as a son. I have always been proud to call you mine."
"I've always been proud to call you Mum," he answered. "Even when I was completely baffled by your actions, I was proud of the fact that you were my mum."
"I know," a tear came to her eye.
"I," he backed away. "I shouldn't be doing this."
"Shouldn't be doing what?" She asked.
"Coming to you and crying," he wiped his face. "You are facing another round of cancer treatments, and instead of helping you emotionally process things I am coming to you with my unresolved issues."
"Victor, I want to help you through this."
"No, I should be supporting you through your cancer, not seeking your validation."
"I want an open and honest relationship with you. Part of what that entails is you coming to me with your emotions."
His lower lip quivered.
"I've learned quite a bit these past few months about honesty and being transparent. I've shielded you children from what I thought was unpleasant, and it was to our detriment."
She raised her hand. He closed his mouth.
"I'm not hiding things from you anymore," Hermione continued. "No matter how long I live, I don't have enough time to keep secrets from my children. You are all adults, and do not need me to shield you from life's unpleasantries."
"That being said, I expect the same from you," Hermione continued. "I expect you to tell me if there is a problem, especially if that issue involves your emotions towards my condition."
"Yes, I should," Hermione replied.
"I want an open and honest family, just like we should have been earlier. That means that you need to come to me with your problems and emotions. In return, I will do the same with you."
"Do you truly want to know how I feel?"
He embraced her. "I'm terrified of losing my mum."
She wrapped her arms around him.
"I love you so much. Some of my favorite memories have been you helping with my law school exams, or us just talking to you over the floo. You," he hiccuped. "You really are the best mother I could have ever asked for. I'm so sorry if I haven't made that clear throughout the years."
"I've always known that you love me," Hermione whispered. "And I've always loved you."
"I know," Victor choked.
Hermione kissed his cheek. "I love you. You're my favorite son."
"I know," Victor squeaked.
She released him and kissed his forehead. "Whatever happens, know that I am always proud to call myself your mum."
"I'm always proud to call myself your son," he answered.
She grinned and hummed. "Your tie is crooked."
"It is?" he asked.
"It is," Hermione readjusted it.
"Thanks," he muttered.
"Now, remember," Hermione continued. "Act casually. If Carina mentions the mistletoe incident a week ago, tell her you enjoyed the kiss very much, but don't seem overly eager to discuss it. She doesn't need to know that you haven't stopped talking about it since Christmas, at least not yet."
"Yes, Mum," Victor answered.
She released him. "You look very handsome."
"Thanks Mum," he answered. "For everything."
"Thank you for being such a wonderful son," she replied.
With that, they hugged each other once more.