Hermione Granger, bearing a tearstained face, stared at her shoes as she trudged slowly through the wet grass. The storms had stopped, but there was still no sun; the weather seemed to compliment her mood. Today, as it had been for the past two years, was a solemn anniversary. In each of her ebony gloved hands, Hermione held a bundle of flowers. As she climbed the hill to the highest point of the meadow, a far off crack of thunder signaled her arrival. Perhaps someone was watching.
At the top of the little knoll, blanketed with muddy grass, was a stone statue, depicting a gallant sword, tip to the sky. The sword alone stood nearly four heads taller than Hermione herself, and its base lifted it nearly two feet more from the ground. On this marble square, a bronze plaque bore proudly:
Loved ones lost for the greater good."
Hermione tilted her head upward to read the many names that lined the double-edged blade of the sword. Dozens... the final count had been close to two hundred. All dead in that one day.
At the very top of the staff was Minerva McGonagall, Hermione's mentor. She had been right beside the teacher during the fight, and narrowly missed the curse that took her life.
Below this, Ron Weasley's name stood boldly beside his sister's. Hermione sniffled slightly at the thought of them; two of her closest friends, lifeless at the tip of a wand. Of all the deaths, Ron's had hurt Harry the most. Harry felt he owed Ron his sanity... if it weren't for the summer retreat to the burrow... the endless games of chess which interrupted stressful studying... the stupid jokes and idiotic comments that kept him in high spirits no matter the weather... he might just have gone insane.
Unlike his mourning post the death of Sirius, Harry took Ron's passing quite well. He was sulky and depressed... but was always smiling (however sadly) and reminding everyone of certain things Ron had said or done. Anyone around him, whether they found the particular incident idiot or inspired, would always agree with Harry that Ron was one of the best men they'd ever known. In all honesty, Hermione had assumed Harry had cracked. First the endless mental torture he procured as a child... then the paranoia surrounding Sirius' identity, followed by the lies which trailed Voldemort's fourth year resurrection, the death of the only person left who felt even close to family, and now... his best and only true male friend. It was as if something snapped in Harry, and he grew distant with the outside world. Although he seemed alright... Hermione noticed he never laughed and meant it... never splurged on anything, or acted upon impulse. This was unlike Harry in every possible way.
Below the Weasleys, the lists went on and on. Name after name... wizard after witch... for the entire length of the blade. Hermione had helped Dumbledore count the ranks and find out who was missing after the war... and there were so very many times, for so many people, that she wanted to turn into Harry and burst into tears.
What saddened her most, was that she only recognized a small few of the people on the staff. Only every so often would she be able to link a name with a face... or even a house. The undeniable realization that she didn't know these brave fighters and never would left a little hole in her heart.
Hermione's eyes skimmed over the two columns, stopping every so often to read a name more carefully, until she reached the very bottom rung of the ladder. As the monument stood in the middle of a meadow miles from any civilization, it was understandable that the grass was grown over and the marble dulled... but her heart wretched as she realized she couldn't read the last two lines. Putting both bunches of flowers in one hand, Hermione pulled the moss and short grass away from the cranny which joined the hilt of the sword with the end of the blade. As she knew there would be, two words stood out, shadowed at the bottom of the list. Draco Malfoy.
A wave of remorse passed over her as she read the name, colored green with moss, despite its young age. Of all the people on the staff, Hermione felt this bottommost casualty to be one of the few who were most deserving of remembrance. The families of those lost were each given a Purple Heart, but more influential leaders... Minerva, Ron, the Head boy and girl for that year, and a few more of the older soldiers, were honored with an Order of Merlin.
Draco's Purple Heart, as his family would have nothing to do with him, sat forgotten and dusty in the Hogwarts trophy room. The only eyes that had lain upon it since its placement were those of the troublemakers given the task of shining trophies.
It was small things like this that drove Hermione to come to this statue twice every year... once on the anniversary of the battle, as she had today, and once on Draco's birthday. She felt it somewhat of a repayment... No matter what the rest of the world said, it was known to Hermione that the Battle of Stone Cross would have been immensely less successful without the youngest Malfoy as an ally. She had worked very closely with him in the preparation, training, and carry out of the operation, and knew of his passion and loyalty to the cause.
Hermione was convinced that it was because he was a Malfoy. Not just any Malfoy, but Draco Malfoy; perhaps the most powerful teenager in the history of mankind. Post his thirteenth birthday, Draco was given the opportunity to become the next Dark Lord. Voldemort wanted him and him alone, son of his most prominent deatheater, to carry on in his footsteps. Draco was taken from his home at an excruciatingly young age and had been trained in both the Dark Arts and Deatheatership by the dark lord himself. It was known throughout the inner circles that Draco Malfoy had seen neither hide nor hair of his mother between the tender age of five or six and the less than robust thirteen. His father, on the other hand, was responsible for a good bit of his training, and in fact held a very close relationship with his son. It was completely understandable to anyone who knew of this that Draco would be a bit cold and distorted as a young teenager. Something somewhere, however, changed him for the better.
Despite Draco's sacrifices and traitorous efforts, his name was covered with moss and buried beneath those of incompetent fools who were blinded by the glory and not focused on the prospect. It was because of his heritage that Draco's certificate of service and Order of Merlin did not hang beside Minerva's in the Great Hall of Hogwarts. It was because he showed determination and sought no glory that his accomplishments and sacrifices were forgotten and his tiny purple pin lay behind the monstrous Quidditch trophies of decades prior.
Hermione knelt in front of the gallant statue, eyes locked on Draco's name. Although they'd never been more than comrades, his passing tugged at her heart in much the same way Ron's did. Although she didn't understand why she felt such a connection with a boy who had tormented her for years only to one day work beside her, Hermione did know that she had good reason.
When she was positioned, knees soaked by the ground, Hermione bent her head in a moment of silent remembrance. Mostly, for Draco. As much as she missed Ron and Ginny, Harry made sure that she was always thinking about them. It was only twice a year that she would sit down and really think about Draco Malfoy. Of course, there was the seldom occasion that a man would walk by her on the street, blonde hair hanging in his eyes, and she would double take, as if she'd seen a ghost. These instances were few and far between, however, and she felt it only right that she still come to the statue.
With a deep breath, Hermione closed her eyes and began to reminisce; mostly about the few months preceding the actual battle, when Draco had been the least fastidious.
"Granger, have you found that blinding spell yet? We really should add it to the list..." Draco Malfoy asked, lifting his stormy eyes from the book on the table, to meet those of Hermione, who was sitting directly across. She looked started for a moment, working out the meaning of his question. It hardly took a second before she identified which document he meant by 'the list'. Along with possible tactics and attack patterns, they had been requested to submit a list of curses that should be taught to the trainees, for good measure. As the most prominent volunteers, they'd taken on a lot of responsibility.
"Right... I wrote it down..." Hermione mumbled nearly to herself, flipping through her notes. "Ah..." she uttered in triumph, then pushed her chair back and dashed into the many shelves of books which resided in the Hogwarts library. She returned not moments later to see Draco with his head down, scribbling furiously on a sheet of parchment. He couldn't even spare a moment to wait for a proper curse... and Hermione expected no less.
It was a mystery to everyone but Draco why he'd converted faith, traded dark for light... evil for good. To each his own philosophy and Hermione was no exception. She, after careful consideration and hours of unrequited observance, had formed a theory. It was all but the absolute truth in her mind that Draco's mother had something to do with it. Although, in honesty, she couldn't say for sure. It was quite possible that Narcissa Malfoy was just as evil and satanic as her husband, but somehow, Hermione didn't see her that way. Her fair features, passed down to her son, gave off an air of innocence and good will. Hermione was a true believer in Narcissa's benevolence.
In fact, she had formed a hypothesis so precise, she'd nearly written dialogue. Hermione believed with all her heart that Draco had been kept from his mother to avoid her influence and, when he was reunited, fell so deeply in love with her that he begrudged his father for keeping him away. There is no bond quite like that between a mother and son, and Lucius had interrupted the growth of nature's most primal relationship. After all, Eve did first birth a son.
So, with this stated, Draco would naturally want to spend time with the woman who gave birth to him; get to know her... be her son. Lucius, however, would continuously pull him away and force him to attend dark meetings. Draco made excuses (quite creative and believable ones) and got himself out of quite a few of these deeds. In the end, Lucius (being not as stupid as made out to be) realized his son's intentions and true whereabouts. He forbade Draco to see Narcissa. Draco felt this was the last straw, and rebelled. However, he did so in secret. Through out all the planning of the war, Draco attended deatheater meetings. He pretended to be aligned with Voldemort, and showed his approval on every act passed. This was good for the light side, as he transferred information. A fatal risk, as it may be. Gone nearly unnoticed.
Ironically, he'd chosen Hermione as his partner in crime. It had been pure coincidence, really. Hermione was waitressing at a coffee house, currently in between jobs after a personality conflict with her supervisor... who seemed to think she looked good in a mini-skirt. Draco, who was a regular, had entered and sat at the bar, head hung low as he rubbed at his tired face. Hermione, always prompt, approached him.
"What can I get you?" she asked, attention focused on her pen and not the man to whom she was speaking.
"The usual," he mumbled, tracing the grain of the wood surface and resting his forehead on an open hand. Hermione frowned.
"I'm sorry, sir, but I'm new," she admitted, putting on a pout in hopes that the stranger wouldn't be angry. In subconscious curiosity, Draco tilted his head up momentarily to view this 'new' girl. He quickly did a double take and his eyes widened.
"Granger?" he questioned, and Hermione grinned, adjusting the pin on her apron that read 'Miss Granger'.
"Yes, sir. What can I get you?" she repeated, missing his meaning entirely, and Draco straightened.
"You're Granger... Hermione Granger, graduate of Hogwarts, class of 2005?" At this, Hermione frowned. She studied him carefully and opened her mouth to ask how he could know such details... but all at once, she recognized him.
"Malfoy?" she guessed and he tilted his head forward just enough to be considered a nod. Hermione was slightly taken aback... he seemed so troubled... and much OLDER than he had the last time she'd seen him... although it had been less than two years ago. Hermione opened her mouth to speak again, although she had no idea what to say. Draco made up for it. A twinkle of eureka flashed in his eyes a moment before he lifted a paper menu from the cart to the side.
"Don't draw attention... pretend to take my order," he instructed, and, although Hermione was completely confused, she did as he said. Draco hid his face behind the menu and spoke in soft tones as the waitress scribbled words of nothing on her little notepad. "Listen, you have to help me..." he started softly, but Hermione cut him off, snapping her head toward him.
"Help you?" she cried in surprise, only to be given a glare.
"Quiet," he instructed, and Hermione regained her position, writing meaningless loops and swirls.
"What are you talking about?" she asked, much softer. Draco sighed softly.
"There's going to be a war," he informed, tones lower than they had been even before.
"What?" she exclaimed, and he nearly cringed.
"Would you stop that?"
Hermione, reprimanded once again, turned back to her pad of paper.
"How do you know?" she asked.
"How do you think I know?" Draco countered and Hermione's eyes darkened, her marks becoming harsher.
"Voldemort told you," she stated rather than asked. Draco tilted his head down slightly, as if in shame. "Well, Malfoy..." Hermione continued. "I hope, for your sake, you realize how stupid it was of you to tell me... if you think for a moment I'll betray my entire world and join your 'Master', you're seriously mistaken."
"That's exactly it," Draco said in near exasperation. "I don't want you to join me. I want to join you."
Hermione nearly snapped again, but stopped herself just in time.
"What exactly does that entail?" she wondered suspiciously, and Draco folded his menu with a sigh.
"Look, you're perfect for this. This whole set up is perfect; it must have been the Fates or something... Granger, I am not the same as I used to be. I hate everything I was and everything I have become. I want out of this, and I need your help. I can't just buggy over to Hogwarts and pledge allegiance to Dumbledore... I'd be shot on sight. I have to keep quiet, but I am willing to prove my loyalty. I've thought this through a hundred times, Granger. I am willing to relay information to the light side," Draco said, slowly but surely, and Hermione was stunned speechless.
"Yes," he said, nodding. "But, as I've said, I can't just go have a chat with the headmaster. He tends to draw attention, someone would see and report back. You could, on the other hand, and no one would think twice. You working here couldn't have been more brilliant had it been planned. All you have to do is deliver my information to Dumbledore, and give the Lights a heads up."
"But..." Hermione started, but Draco interrupted.
"If you still don't believe me, you can at least take the chance. I'll stay out of the Lights' business... what you personally don't tell me, I won't know. The closest contact I will have with even a light side member will be my daily visit here, with which I will pass things on to you. It's a win, win situation for you. If I'm honest, you'll have a better chance of not being taken off guard. If I'm lying, it'll do good to be prepared, and... well, you could always kill me for treason or something," he said, with a calm sort of air that suggested that, even had they decided to kill him, it wouldn't have bothered him in the least.
"But... why? Why are you doing this?"
Draco opened his mouth to give a no-doubt dangerously truthful answer, but shook his head a moment later.
"Does it matter?" he asked, fixing her with a look that prevented further questioning on the subject. Hermione sighed. She'd always been taught to trust everyone until they did something untrustworthy. A few harsh words in boarding school shouldn't count as such.
"Alright, I'll do it... but you better hope you keep to your word," she warned and Draco smiled.
"Thank you," he said, honestly. "All I have of consequence right now, is that the Lord plans to steal a herd of sheep from a farm in Hogsmeade. He thinks it'll prove something by taking such things of little importance right out from under their noses... but he also needs them for sacrificing. Ritual... you don't need to know about it. Just make sure the farms are guarded on Tuesday." Hermione nodded, taking in all he was saying. Hogsmeade sheep... Tuesday... sacrifice... "Now," Draco said, "Bring me some really complicated drink so it looks like you were really taking my order." Hermione straightened a bit and smiled before turning away. Draco sighed, looking as if a weight had been lifted from his shoulders.
The sheep were indeed stolen the next Tuesday. Hermione had warned Dumbledore, but did not relay her source. She was sure that, had she told him, Dumbledore would have declared it a trap and she a fool for thinking otherwise and taking the word of a Malfoy. She, however, was absolutely sure Draco was not tricking them. It would take awhile before she could fully trust him, but Hermione was somehow positive he was being truthful. Something about the desperation he showed without care, like a heart on his sleeve...
As the months wore on, Draco came into the coffee shop almost daily. He would order his 'usual', which Hermione took precautions to memorize, and slip her a folded piece of paper with his payment. Sometimes the notes were just a word or two, other times full pages with intricate details, but never signed. Hermione understood. He was afraid of being found out and, who wouldn't be? Each time he told her something, provided it was about Voldemort, she would report it to Dumbledore, and he would watch carefully and plan counter occurrences. Hermione noticed, however, that the notes became longer and longer as time progressed. They were no longer just about what Voldemort was planning... sometimes they were more like monologues, showcasing a particular childhood memory or premature task he had had to accomplish that somehow linked with the news. Sometimes, even, they seemed more like love letters. If Draco had neither information, nor memories... he would oftentimes write a note that displayed his true gratitude for her help, and thanking her for trusting him...
Hermione, over the months following the first meeting, gained more and more trust and respect for Draco. In fact, she had told Dumbledore whom her source was, and entered a heated debate between herself for pro, and Harry, Ron, and Dumbledore for con. Somehow, she managed to persuade the headmaster, and Draco became a full-fledged light side member. It was this that brought them to the library. As Draco gained more trust, he also seemed to gain more determination. Although many light side members had doubts, they all had to admit that he did do a substantial amount of the technical work. Draco had covered himself with excuses of research for the benefit of the Darkside and, after persuading Voldemort that Hogwarts would be the best place to absorb accidentally relayed information, he spent hours and hours at a time in the library; researching every counter curse to those Voldemort had planned on using.
Although, the inevitable did come upon him; Draco had never been good at Arithmancy. Many of the primal text were written in code, and it took him hours just to work out the words of one page... and that didn't necessarily guarantee the information given would be useful. With no choice but to seek help, Draco asked the one girl who trusted him the most. Requested through a slip of paper laced with coffee dust and mocha powder, Hermione arrived bright and early the next morning to aid him. Much to Draco's amazement, she simply lifted the book and held it a few feet from her face, as if it was difficult to see properly. After a minute or so of skimming the numbers, she read aloud the passage as if it were written in nothing but plain English. Draco literally gaped.
"How do you DO that?" he asked, mouth hanging open and eyes wide. Hermione giggled.
"It's easy," she assured, "You just have to know the tricks. Here, I'll show you..."
Hermione spent nearly an entire night teaching Draco, but he still didn't grasp the concept. Assured that it would be faster and more progressive once he learned, Hermione continued teaching, until he was nearly flawless. The process took weeks, but Draco was grateful. He could now get as much done in one night, as it would have taken him the entire tutoring, minus literacy.
"Oh, this is such a relief..." Draco announced as his eyes read easily over the numbers, brain working quick and efficiently with hardly any effort. "I can't thank you enough, Granger," he added, looking up at her with admiring eyes. Hermione, who was standing next to him, smiled for a moment, keeping eye contact, then took a breath.
"Right... now we can get some work done," she announced, occupying the seat beside him and pulling another of the unread tombs closer. Draco crinkled his eyebrows as he watched her read, eyes alive at the new information, and quickly start to jot things on a separate sheet of paper.
"Why are you still here?" he asked, but not in ill will. He seemed merely curious as to why she remained. Hermione stopped writing mid-sentence and looked up, confused.
"Why wouldn't I be? I care just as much about this as you do, Malfoy. I want to be all the help I can, just as you do... however, if you'd rather I leave..." Hermione explained, beginning to close her book, but Draco reached a hand to stop her.
"No... no, I didn't say that," he insisted, and Hermione smiled at the pleading look in his eyes. She knew he had to get lonely... here by himself for hours on end with no companion but the mindless drivel of many a textbook.
"Alright then. Let's get started." And so, Hermione stayed. She continued to meet Draco at the library and together they would research, oftentimes breaking sessions with a bit of harmless flirting and well-placed effort at making the other laugh.
"Here," Hermione stated before pushing the book of body spells toward her comrade. Draco finished his notation and looked up, scanning the page for the blinding spell. Once he'd found it, he gave a nod, and shuffled through his papers, looking for the rough draft of 'the list'. Hermione, a tiny smile on her face, relieved Draco of this task and moved aside a stack, finding the document instantly. He gave a small smile.
"Thanks; I guess I'm a bit away from myself tonight."
Hermione shook her head and leaned back into her seat, attempting to find her place in the book she was reading. Just as she'd finished the section on the art of disarming, a coarse chime rang through the library, signaling the arrival of . With a sigh, Hermione rubbed wearily at her eyes.
"It's getting late," she pointed out, but Draco seemed not to notice. "What do you say we get in a few hours sleep, Malfoy? We can do the deatheater report in the morning, and it won't take long to finalize that list of spells." Draco, still enticed in his book, waved a hand toward her.
"You go; I want to do just a bit more," he said, eyes never leaving the page. Hermione, who was now standing, cocked her hips.
"Malfoy..." she warned. It had been more than once that Draco had promised to do just a bit more and sent her to bed, only to be found asleep on his papers the next morning. Once, Hermione had even charmed his ink to be permanent... and he'd had to spend three days with half the Goblin Address written on his left cheek.
"Quiet, woman. Leave me," he countered, but playfully. Hermione shook her head.
"If I find you here tomorrow, I'll bind you to a bed," she threatened, and Draco chuckled, still reading.
"Yours, I do hope."
Hermione rolled her eyes and beaned him on the back of the head before leaving, fully aware that Draco planned to disregard her dictation.
As she knelt before the statue, Hermione shifted slightly. Ignoring her ever-present tears, she looked up at the tall stone statue that marked a great battle and took a ragged breath. It was memories like these that brought her so wholly into ruins.... Draco had been so wonderful... determined... so... perfectly amazing. Hermione could not deny that she would want nothing more than to be able to spend one more late night with him in the library, simply sitting quietly as they read through textbooks. There was just something about Draco that made the world feel just as he did. Were he to be nasty and malevolent, it spread to others, oftentimes resulting in fistfights. If his mind was filled with nothing but determination and pure joy at making a difference, this too was contagious. Hermione had never felt so invincible as she did the day of the actual battle. Just standing beside him made her want to throw herself at the deatheaters and reek havoc on their army. She felt that morning a great victory on the move.
As she stood beside Draco at the front line, Hermione smirked to herself. There were hundreds of soldiers, a dozen lines back and two of fronts-men. Draco and Hermione were placed directly in the middle of this latter extremity, proudly pointing their wands forward. Draco had been very precise in his prediction of the initial attack. Voldemort planned to apparate his troops into this field, unmarked and unmapped (although Draco knew the way by heart), then parade them toward Hogwarts, which included a trip through the forbidden forest. Draco's plan against this, was to take Voldemort off guard; it seemed the most logical step. Let him think he has the upper hand and surprise him with a counter-ambush.
Voldemort was the first to appear, followed by each and every member of his troops one by one. It took minutes for the continuous cracks to cease, and when they did, Draco found himself making eye contact with his former Master.
"...Malfoy?" Voldemort asked, most definitely surprised. "What... what is the meaning of this? Treason?" Hermione looked to her partner, only to see his eyes narrow. He said nothing, but did not break contact. "Is this what I've taught you, my son? To turn against your creator and ally with the opposing side? To betray your entire family and every person who cares even the slightest about you, just to help those who once caused you so much pain?" Hermione kept her eyes on Draco, and it was obvious that he was taking Voldemort's words to heart. The invincibility was fading... he was becoming vulnerable. "Your mother would be disgusted..."
At this accusation, Draco dropped his head, eyes on the ground. Voldemort let out a cold laugh, as if he had already claimed victory. Seeing a chance to stop the madness... to ensure Draco that he was loved and had chosen the right path, she took his hand in hers. Nearly startled, he turned to her, wand arm still extended. Hermione gave him a small smile and squeezed his fingers with all the might she could muster. The touch of Draco's hand when he felt so broken and benedict seemed to drain her of her own determination. This soon changed however, as a smile lit his face, pronouncing that he read her meaning loud and clear. Again, however, Voldemort laughed.
"So that's it, is it? Fallen for a mudblood? Has your father taught you nothing?"
"Milord..." Lucius stammered, coming up from behind, but Voldemort shot a curse over his shoulder, leaving the older Malfoy to flop lifelessly onto the ground. The first casualty.
"What-say we rid you of such filth as this sweet country flower, hm?" Voldemort suggested, stepping forward and raising his wand to Hermione. Draco was quick to step in front of her.
"Don't you touch her, Riddle," he hissed, wand extended. Hermione, sure he was about to die, closed her eyes and squeezed great handfuls of his shirt in her fists. Much to the surprise of everyone, light and dark alike, the Dark Lord simply shrugged.
"Alright. As, in a warped sort of way, I am slightly proud of you for hiding your disloyalty so completely, I will save your mudblood from harm." A silence passed over the meadow; deatheaters looked stunned while members of the light side stared suspiciously. Almost suddenly, in a serene sort of way, Voldemort lifted his arms to the sky. He paused for effect, but the deatheaters were ready, each standing straight and focusing on a specific enemy to torture. As if in a dream, the Dark Lord let his arms flutter to the ground and, to the tune of a fierce battle cry, the dark army charged. In retaliation, Dumbledore led his troops forward as well. In the sea of people coming from both directions, Hermione found herself torn from Draco. As she was pushed to the wayside, she saw his blonde head fade into the crowd, spinning frantically, looking for her. She called out to him, but the endless supply of curses and cries of pain drowned her voice, and he melted into the battle.
Throughout the battle, Hermione fought bravely, and managed to make it past the defeat of the dark lord with nothing but a few scars and a misaligned shoulder to show for it. She had stuck beside Minerva, who had been both her and Draco's coach for training sessions, and fought it out. It wasn't until Harry managed to skim Voldemort with a deadly and all too powerful Avada curse that the chaos ended. Tom Riddle let out a high pitched scream of pain, and melted into the ground, leaving behind just a thin smoke. This was his undoing, however... as the smoke traveled into the lungs of the remaining death eaters and, one by one, they dropped like flies. Members of the light side who still remained standing watched in awe as their enemies fell lifeless at the hand of their own leader. Evidently, Voldemort planned to dictate over them even in death... and to do so, was forced to bring them along for the ride. It was known then and only then that Voldemort was gone for good.
When the wand smoke cleared, Hermione, finding herself standing alone amongst many dead people she had grown to love, ran. She covered ground quickly, looking over the many random bodies drowned in blood. Once, she was forced to stop and gasp in horror. Ginny Weasley lay motionless, a wand protruding from her eye and blood staining the crisp white uniform each warrior wore. Unable to digest such a gruesome sight, Hermione backed away and continued her journey. Each time she passed someone who was merely mourning the death of another, she would ask for Draco's whereabouts. Something had happened between them just before the initial attack, and Hermione knew it. She was equally sure that Draco had felt it too... a silent 'I care about you', 'I'm here for you'... 'I love you'.
There was an excruciatingly long twenty minutes between the smoke signal and Hermione's location of her comrade. Unlike the mangled bodies she had passed on her way, Draco lay as if already encased in a coffin. On the very tallest knoll, he rested straight and still on his back, hands folded over the curse's epicenter. Surprisingly, however, he was not dead... even from feet away, Hermione could see him shaking. She was at his side in a moment.
"Draco..." she cried, fussily checking for other injuries. It seemed it had taken only that one curse to do him in, as Draco showed not a scratch more. With what seemed like great effort, he pried his eyes open to view his addresser. He opened his mouth to speak, but it seemed that no words could be forced out. Instead he just smiled up at her, eyes watery. It was mere moments before his lids fluttered closed again, and his lips tilted downward. Hermione let out a strangled sound. "Draco, no..." Even such a desperate plea did not hinder the Malfoy's departure. He opened his eyes a bit more, but they closed against his will. "I love you..." Hermione whispered, pressing her forehead to his, and Draco's lips curled up once more. It was not a minute later that the feathery sound of his breathing dimmed to silence.
Hermione was now sobbing against the stone statue that rested in the exact place Draco had died. Her tears grew heavier and sobs deeper as she recalled the exact sights of the people who lay dead... the wand in Ginny's eye... the tiny hole, no bigger in diameter than a quill shaft, charred black in Draco's abdomen...
After the fact, she had had a lot of time to think. Hermione, as taboo as it felt to say such, could not assure that she loved Draco as a woman should love a man. She wouldn't swear that she'd have married him had he lived... but Hermione could say with conviction that she would give anything to see Draco once more. To hear him laugh... watch the adorable look of confusion pass over his face as he misinterpreted a number and read a passage incorrectly... and, without a doubt, Hermione could give her dying word that, if just for a few moments, she had loved Draco Malfoy. Some may argue that it was just the intenseness of the situation... the grief over the deaths of others... the gallons of blood she watched seep into the ground... but Hermione herself knew that, no matter the circumstances, she would pass up her ticket to the promised land if only she could spend eternity with Draco, researching in the Hogwarts library.
Thunder boomed in the distance, and Hermione was broken from her report. Taking a few moments to regain her composure, she stood from the ground and lifted the two bundles of flowers from their resting place beside her. The first, a spray of magenta and yellow Zinnias, which represented love and remembrance of close friends, was placed to the left of the sword in remembrance of Ron, Ginny, Minerva, and all the others who had given their lives.
The second was a bundle of Sweet Williams to symbolize gallantry, placed especially for Draco. This bunch of elegant, dark purple flowers, rested symbolically on the right side of the sword. Draco would always be her right hand man.
A/N: I do not own Harry Potter or:
Anyway now, it don't seem right- he's in there and you're on the outside
Over Pine Ridge to
In the air I'm sensing a change in the weather, in the end the path is clear
Does anyone remember here? Did you all think it'd just disappear? Crazy life...
What have you done with Peltier? Who did you think you'd taken away? Crazy life...
Burying won't stop it breathing forever; underground it takes to rootIt's not over, it's not over, over... over... over...
Crazy Life by Toad the Wet Sprocket