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A/N: Over 1000 reviews! *hugs you all* Thank you all so much!
I'm really sorry for not updating in so long… I've had too much stuff happening! Which included school exams which I hadn't revised for (I did alright!) and the new Harry Potter book, (of course). But finally, here it is… the final chapter of Darkness and Light!
I don't have a plan for a sequel yet… I'm definitely going to work on a slightly different short story involving Hermione and Draco, not romantic, and probably to be called 'Unforgivable?' I'll send an email to those on my update list when it comes out.
Still attempting to get my writings e.t.c. onto the web. Info will be posted in my profile!
Until then, what can I do but take my final bow and say, Enjoy!
Hermione awoke slowly, floating back from unconsciousness, becoming aware of her world in varying degrees. First, she was aware of the hospital sheets around her, cool against her skin. Dim aches registered in her mind, memories of pain that seemed a dream away, but she ignored them. She tasted fresh air, and distantly she heard the sound of someone laughing.
Her eyes fluttered open to take in the familiar room: the rows of clean white beds, the faint lemony smell of disinfectant, the calming neutral colours. But why was she here? Something had happened… she remembered it, faintly. Being afraid, being tortured… Lucius Malfoy.
And memory came back, grudgingly. She'd been lured out of school by the false letter. Then captured, taken to the manor, and Lucius. She winced at the memory of the pain. And then… she had been rescued, she remembered that too, but so faintly. Arms around her, and someone upset. And speaking to her. Their voice had been pained… she could call back the sound of it, like a whisper, if she tried.
Draco. A smile rose unbidden to her lips, and a warmth spread inside her as she remembered. He had rescued her, of course. She remembered smiling at him, the way he hadn't been able to believe she really was alive.'You're alive?'
'Alive. I am alive…'
She had felt… happy. Yes, happy, that was the word. Half-dead, covered in blood and unable to move without violent pain, she had still been happy. Because of him. Because of Draco.
And with a sudden shock, she remembered the last thing she'd said.
Hermione pushed herself upright on the bed, wincing but paying no attention to it. Love you… she had said that to Draco. And when she said it, she had meant it. She had loved him. And, remembering the way she had felt when she thought of him, acknowledging that there was still a giddy warmth inside her, denial was pointless.
She was in love with him.
The bell rang sharply, cutting into her slightly shocked thoughts. In the corridors outside, the happy chatter of people escaping from lessons could be heard, swelling as people poured out of the classrooms. Hermione blinked, taking a calming breath, and leant back against her pillows.
She loved Draco again. Or at least, she thought she did… No, no, she did. There was no point, she told herself severely, in doubting herself there. She did… She could remember what it had been like, however dimly, and this was the same. And now, all she had to do was… tell him.
Her stomach twisted at that idea, but she ignored it. It would always feel a little daunting for anyone, telling someone something like this. And the probability of something going wrong with that particular conversation was about the same as that of Blast-Ended Skrewts suddenly coming into existence two inches above her head.
She glanced upwards, just to make sure. After all, anything could happen…
Hermione had just pushed this path of thought firmly aside and begun trying to decide what exactly to say, when an extremely familiar voice made her jump.
She looked up, unable to stop herself smiling, and saw Draco, wearing an almost uncharacteristic grin. However normal and familiar his smirks, scowls, sneers and occasional smiles were, she wouldn't deny that these grins were certainly much more becoming. She felt a tingle in her stomach.
'I am.' she replied with a smile. 'And I feel great. What's happened? How long have I been asleep?, Oh, and where is Madam Pomfrey? Normally she'd have been fussing everywhere by now…'
His grin faded slightly. 'Madam Pomfrey's at a Healer's conference. St. Mungo's. And you've been unconscious for three days…' he replied, taking a seat on a precariously old wooden chair beside her. 'And well, a lot of things have happened…'
'What?' Hermione asked. 'Tell me… from the beginning.' She had a sense of foreboding, but ignored it. 'How did we escape from Malfoy Manor?'
'Someone called in the Ministry.' he said shortly. 'I haven't a clue who, since Ron and Harry were standing around in the room looking fairly shocked, my mother was in hysterics, and the only other person who knew anything about it was-' he stopped short.
Hermione frowned, her feeling of apprehension growing. 'Who? The other person who would have known about it was… your father.' Draco winced, which puzzled Hermione even more. 'What? What's wrong?'
'He's dead.' Draco said shortly, not meeting her eyes. 'I killed him.'
Hermione's eyes widened in shock; she realised her jaw had dropped, and hastily closed it. Draco had killed his father? She had known he hated Lucius… but for it to drive him to murder?
A nasty voice in her mind reminded her that things like this had a trigger. Something which caused them to happen, a final straw that drove him to breaking point… Her. She herself had been the trigger event… when he saw Lucius torturing her, that had been the most he could take. And another part of her mind took not at the fact that it had been her own pain, not his, which had driven him over that edge…
'Oh.' she said rather feebly.
'Forget it.' he said forcibly, folding his arms defensively and staring away from her, at the floor. His face, so trained in remaining emotionless, betrayed a deep hatred. 'It was… It's not…'
'It's okay.' she said, smiling weakly. 'I mean, I know what he was like to you… and you were angry. You had every right to be angry. And well…'
'It was still wrong.' he said. 'I didn't want to kill anyone.'
'I know.' she said sympathetically. 'Forget about it, if it upsets you… tell me what else happened.'
'We used the Genitive potion on that quill.' he replied without much enthusiasm. 'It was Mandy Brocklehurst… a Ravenclaw. Our year.'
'Really?' Hermione asked. 'Do the teachers know? What happened to her?'
'They're trying to decide what to do with her…' he replied. 'The teachers know. We got her to confess without knowing they were watching… and they recorded it for evidence.' He still wasn't meeting her eyes, but his face was no longer angry, indicating that whatever was causing it now was not related to his father.
'That was a good idea.' she commented with a smile. As the surprise of Draco's father ebbed, she began to wonder when she would get the chance to tell him how she felt.
'Of course it was a good idea.' he said, and now he did meet her eyes with a smirk. 'It was mine, after all.'
Hermione couldn't help but laugh at this. Same old Draco, she thought with another pang of warmth… But by the time she looked back at him, with a smile and an answering quip on her lips, he was looking away from her again. He was staring absentmindedly at the sheet, and looked as though he was puzzling over something.
'Are you alright?' he asked tentatively, knowing very well that it might be caused by his father, who he didn't seem to want to discuss. But Draco sighed and nodded.
'Fine.' he replied. 'Just thinking about something. Nothing very important, just something you said back there… You were probably just ranting, and I doubt you remember anyway.'
Hermione's heart jumped. 'What did I say?' she asked, her voice eager and quiet. 'What was it?'
'It wasn't important…
'It… it was.' Hermione said, swallowing. 'Because, I remember saying something to you… and what I said was important. And it wasn't just ramblings. It was… true.'
He had turned towards her, his face filled with hope and doubt. 'Did you say what I think you said?' he asked almost silently.
Hermione smiled and nodded firmly. 'Yes.' she said. 'I… I love you. And I mean it…'
Draco's eyes widened in surprise. 'You… really?'
She nodded, glancing away almost shyly, before looking back up to meet his eyes. She shivered at the sight of them, the feeling that she could see deeper than she ever remembered into those silvery grey eyes.
'You said you did before… but I knew you were lying.' he said, his voice half a whisper. Hermione, in the recent events, had understandably forgotten this, and its memory brought a flush to her cheeks. 'But now…' Draco's eyes flicked over her face. 'You aren't.'
Their eyes were locked together, not moving, as though the world would end if they looked away, as though they were caught in a spell. For a few heartbeats, nothing existed, nothing mattered, except those twin circles of grey. Such a cold colour, but filled with warmth…
And before she even knew what was happening, his lips were on hers, kissing her gently. She jumped a little with the surprise, the sudden feeling, ever so gentle but deceptively intense. Closing her eyes, she gently eased into the kiss. His arms snaked around her, and her hands went to his back by instinct, holding him close as she sank deeper into his kiss.
A moment later, she heard a babble of voices outside the door, which swung open. She jumped at the sound, as did Draco, who flung himself to a sitting position so hard he ended up falling to the floor with a yelp.
Hermione cast an embarrassed, guilty glance to the door, where stood Harry and Ron with rather shocked expression on their faces.
'Um.' Ron said tactfully, his ears turning red. 'I see you're awake.'
'Yes, I am…' she nodded. There was a silence, broken only by Draco getting up with an extremely faked grin and attempting to sit respectably on his chair.
'That's good.' Harry agreed, blinking. 'And I see you're feeling well…'
'Yes.' Hermione said. There was another silence, and Draco suddenly burst into laughter. This drew looks of puzzled amusement from the three Gryffindors.
'What on earth are you laughing at?' Hermione asked with a frown.
'You three!' he replied, still laughing. 'You'd think you'd never seen anyone kiss before!'
'Well, we've never seen you two kiss before.' Harry said tactfully. 'It's different when it's people you know.
'We could leave you alone, if you wanted…' Ron offered, ears tingeing crimson.
Hermione glanced at Draco. 'I don't think we need it…' she replied. 'We have plenty of time, after all...' And she smiled.
Hermione left the hospital a week later. It was a perfect summer day, straight out of a holiday brochure. The sun baked down, making everyone dream of ice cream and freezing cold drinks. Practically the entire school, teachers included, was outside sunning themselves on the grass.
Hermione, Draco, Harry and Ron were no exception. They sat in the partial shade of a willow, their skin dappled with filtered light. Hermione, at Draco's insistence, had her head resting comfortably on his shoulder, relaxing. Madam Pomfrey had insisted she was still weak, and according to Draco the tree was too rough to lean against.
Still, she wasn't planning on complaining.
A short way away, Ron and Harry were engaged in a tense game of wizard's chess, which Ron appeared to be winning, as usual. It was too hot to talk, too hot to do anything but rest.
Hermione had half-slipped into a doze when a cheery voice awoke her. 'Miss Hermione, you is better!'
She looked up into the smiling face of Ditty. 'Hi Ditty.' she said with a smile. 'How are you?'
The elf grinned. 'Ditty is very well, Miss Hermione!'
Hermione blinked at the elf, then raised her head a fraction of an inch. Ditty was beaming, and holding hands with Dobby, who wore a near identical grin.
'You're...?' she asked, and Ditty nodded proudly. 'That's great, both of you!' Hermione replied with a smile. 'Congratulations! Erm… Winky is taking this alright, isn't she?'
'Winky is taking it very well, Miss Hermione.' Dobby replied. 'Already Winky is friends with another elf…' The way he said 'friends' suggested that there was more than that to it.
'Good.' Hermione smiled, leaning back against Draco. She felt happy. She was surrounded by the shouts and laughter of her friends, with the low mutterings and occasional crashes of Harry and Ron from nearby, the house elves' bright chatter as they sat near them, and of course Draco's arm tucked around her.
And however bad the past had been, it was over now. The future would come, and she had no illusions that it held darkness. But now, safe and happy, both future and past were years away. There was nothing but the warmth of the sun and the coolness of the shade, the feelings of love and happiness and peace, and the knowledge that whatever happened, good or bad, light or dark, it would be all right in the end. They would get through it together, Hermione, Harry, Ron, and Draco.
And that was all that mattered.
*sigh* it is finished! But, of course, I still want your reviews. Send them in!
Thank you to everyone whose read and reviewed. You all deserve big hugs and chocolate for being such brilliant people!