"Draco," Hermione said sensually, her voice laced with malice. It made his blood run cold. "You really mustn't run down the stairs, darling. It's not safe."
"…What are you doing here?" Draco asked, his eyes going between her and the books her fingertips were resting on. Hermione produced a gut-wrenching smile.
"What? A woman can't simply pop back in time to visit the younger version of the love of her life?" She casually asked, soon after frowning. "You know, I've missed you. You and I aren't very close in the future, as you can imagine. It gets quite lonely toppling governments all by yourself."
"Am I supposed to feel sorry for you?" Draco scoffed. Hermione's eyes narrowed and she raised her hand at him, her fingers closing into a fist. Draco instantly felt weak. He dropped to his knees and tried to breathe but no air was coming in. Breathing out, although that was the last thing that he wanted to do at the moment, also proved useless. It was almost as though all the air around him had stopped flowing. His chest felt tight. His whole body was constricted.
Hermione stared at him as he rolled onto his back and then slowly walked over to him. She watched as his face turned an interesting shade of blue and then tutted as she knelt down beside him. "I'm sorry, but I didn't quite appreciate your tone a moment ago."
She placed a hand on his cheek and caressed it. His eyes were pleading with her to stop whatever it was that she had done to him. He grappled at her arm like a blind man trying to see. Soon he stopped his actions. And when he was still for just a second Hermione brought a closed fist to his face and opened it. Draco instantly gasped, taking in huge amounts of air at once and coughing incessantly.
"I really don't want to have to kill you, sweetheart. Please, don't make me have to do that again."
From the corner of his eyes Draco saw Hermione rise to her feet and walk away. His chest was in utter pain. He turned over onto his stomach and coughed as he wobbly stood up, using the staircase handle for support. She had gone back to her previous position by her precious books.
"I didn't come here for a very long chat." Hermione said conversationally. "I merely wanted to pick up a few books. You, my beloved Draco, were about to do an utterly terrible thing."
"Trying to save you isn't terrible." Draco swallowed. "There must be something inside of you that's still you!"
"Hmm, I never pegged you to be such a whiner. It's not very attractive." Hermione sighed and picked up the books on the table and held them under her arm. "Now, normally I would scold someone for so nonchalantly running around through time as you have done, but I won't. Your meddling somehow brought a Seer my way. That's how I found out what you were trying to do. You were going to destroy my favorite toys and that, Draco, is not okay.
'I'm going to take my lovely possessions away from here now. I'm going to put them somewhere special to make sure that I've read them. You can't change fate completely, love. I'm meant to be this way, and I'm going to stay this way."
Draco watched helplessly as Hermione one-handedly flipped the rings on the time-turner and disappeared from his sight. He stood there, motionlessly, his head swimming and his limbs feeling like lead. It was as he stood by the stairs that his mind clicked. He instantly drew out the parchment Alex had given him and stared at it in his hands. The names of the books. The dates. All of the dates would be useless with the exception of the first as long as Hermione didn't read it.
Draco worked quickly. September 23rd, 2020 was the date. He turned the rings on the time-turner and felt the world disappear under his feet. He found himself in the library and whipped out his wand quickly in case Hermione was here. She wasn't. Draco checked the parchment yet again and reviewed what Alex had written. Bedside table… Bedside table? He didn't stop to think about it. He stashed the parchment away and ran up the stairs. He made it pass the bookcase entrance and then yelled in pain as he collapsed to the ground. He twisted, arched his back, and bent his body in ways he didn't think possible. He felt like three different wands had Crucioed him at once, but there was no one there. The spell broke rather quickly but the aftereffects and pain lingered through his muscles and bones. Draco looked back at the entrance and saw a shimmer around it. He realized then that Hermione had set him up, knowing full-well that he wouldn't have just done nothing.
Draco groaned miserably as he rose to his feet, collapsed yet again, but finally making his body work for him. He ran out of the library with an awkward limp. His thoughts were running just as he was and he was confused. Why not kill him? Hermione had obviously become a powerful and dangerous witch, but why torture him and not kill him when he was trying to stop her?
Draco rounded a corner and bumped into someone. He had his wand gripped tightly and pointed at the person who turned out to be the very witch he was looking for. He didn't cast a spell though. It wasn't because he didn't want to hurt her, but because she looked thoroughly surprised and scared at his actions.
"Draco, what on earth are you doing?!" Hermione shouted with her eyes wide. He didn't lower his wand, however. His heart was racing.
"Where are you going?! Where's Alex?!"
Hermione looked positively frightened now and frantic as she completely ignored his first question. "You don't know where Alex is?! You were supposed to be taking her to Harry's!"
"She's there." Draco said, sure that his present self was gone as well as Alex. "I need you to go to the East Wing. Head to the study and take the Floo. Go anywhere! You just have to go."
"Go? Draco I don't understand-!"
"GO!" He shouted once more, this time actually giving Hermione a shove. She was scared beyond measure but took off at a run towards the East Wing like he said. Draco ran in the opposite direction and to the West Wing. As he neared it he slowed. The bookcase entrance had been a trap. There was no doubt that future Hermione would be waiting for him even if she had accomplished her task of leaving the book on the night table next to the bed.
Draco reached the hallway of the West Wing. It was lined with closed doors and utter silence. Sweat began to cover his brow, both from running and from nerves. As he approached the bedroom he was suddenly felt himself being lifted off his feet and thrown up into the air. His wand dropped from him as his back collided with the ceiling. He couldn't move. Draco's eyes darted around wildly as Hermione appeared from the bedroom. Only three books were under her arm and she smiled as she looked up at him.
"Enjoying the view from up there?" She asked sweetly. A single flick of her finger and Draco dropped from the ceiling and onto the floor. He hit the wood with a thud, instantly hearing a crack and feeling pain in his nose. His head rose only a few centimeters as the blood trickled out of it. He heard Hermione give a lazy sigh. "Damn, I've always loved that face."
Draco could hear Hermione's shoes as she walked closer to him. He tensed up as she neared and then relaxed as she moved past him. He made his next move quickly. Draco got up and darted sloppily towards the bedroom.
"Don't even think about it." Hermione growled. She threw her hand out towards him and yanked it back, and Draco fell backwards as though an invisible hand had pulled him roughly by the collar. He fell half as hard as his drop from the ceiling and slid. Despite the pain, it was worth it. His hand was in reach of his wand. Draco stared at Hermione's upside down form and pointed it at her.
The spell hit Hermione right in the chest. She was stunned but with how powerful she was Draco doubted that it would last very long. He scrambled to his feet, slipping some but maintaining his balance. His eyes were on the book but his ears were attending to the very pissed off witch behind him.
Draco aimed his wand at the book. "Incendio Inimicus!"
The book was instantly engulfed in a fit of blue flames. Draco took a moment to admire his handiwork. A spell of his own design; one to handle the strength of a cursed object, but not nearly as dangerous as Fiendfyre. Draco heard a cry from behind him and he whirled himself around. His brow furrowed as he saw Hermione on the ground, holding herself, whimpering in obvious pain. His eyes gravitated back to the books and Alex's words reverberated in his brain. "It was like…they were a part of her."
No wonder she protected them so much.
Draco hurried. He sprinted down the hall and gathered all three books that had fallen from Hermione's hands with a quick wand flick. He didn't stop to look at her even though from his periphery he could see that she was gaining her strength back. He pushed his pained body to its limits even as he felt blood flow freely from his nose and mouth. An electrifying torment was emanating from his left his leg as he ran but he couldn't stop. He could hear Hermione shouting after him, running behind him. Draco flanked the upcoming corridor just in time to miss a jet of fire that ended in a collision with a vase on a marble stand. He worked his body harder, skidding slightly on the ground but making it into the library. Draco let the books fall to the floor as he closed the door. He worked his wand quickly to put up as many spells as he could to keep her out. When he was finished he stared at the books on the ground.
It wasn't enough. As long as she was around, she'd do all she could to get her hands on her books. Draco picked them up and opened the door to the hidden library just in time to hear Hermione blow not only the door, but a huge chunk of the wall apart. His wards had done absolutely nothing. Panicked, Draco rushed further into the library waving his wand around and watching everything around him burn. It was an ocean of fire. A stream of it shot up from his wand so that it could catch on to the top floor of books.
"Stop it!" Hermione screamed at him. She waved at hand at him and Draco tripped on the stairs. The books fell from him as he tumbled; his already banged up leg becoming more damaged, his face taking unneeded hits, and the rest of his body joining in causing him distress. Draco hit the bottom of the stairs feeling beyond repair. One book was in front of his face. The other had landed a few feet near the mahogany table. His eyes were scanning for the third book, but he didn't have to see where it had landed. He could hear Hermione crying aloud in pain yet again.
Draco spat out a mouth full of blood and tried to rise to his feet, but he yelled. His was leg broken. He could hear Hermione coming down the stairs, but he had to finish it. His wand had rolled away a few feet from him and so he crawled. Draco fought the vicious feel of his arms and used his upper body to propel himself closer to his wand. He was in arms reach of it before he foolishly remembered he could've called it to him. Before he could take any further action he felt his body being picked up and careened into the other side of the room. The bookcase he had been slammed into rained books on him which damaged already injured body parts. Hermione parted the remnants of the avalanche with a gesture of her hand and stared down at him cruelly. She was bleeding from the corner of her mouth, her clothes were singed, and ash covered her everywhere.
"You're going to make me kill you, aren't you?" Hermione said rather than asked. Draco took in her appearance. She still looked malevolent, and yet different. Her confidence was faltering as was the infrastructure of the library as he heard it crack, moan, and hiss with all the flames.
"Do it then." Draco challenged. Hermione's eyes narrowed.
"You think I won't?!"
"I think you won't."
Hermione's hand flexed either out of nervousness or anger. She didn't have time to do much of anything as part of the ceiling collapsed and fell behind her. It dropped onto the table in the room and the book that was lying beside it. Seeing Hermione shout in pain was an entirely different experience than hearing it. His heart ached as her face contorted in agony and she dropped to the ground, holding herself as a form of protection.
Draco forced his arm to raise and his fingers to move. A quick snap brought his wand to him and he removed the rest of the books that had fallen on him. He could still see one of the books beyond him. Flames had begun to trickle down to the bottom floor, but he couldn't leave it to chance that it would burn. He brought his wand to his leg and yelled as he felt his bones temporarily slipping back into place. Proper medical attention would be needed, but for now it was good enough. Draco got to his feet, his teeth clenched against the agony in his leg and the rest of his body. He messily hopped over broken bits of ceiling and flames. He dove for the book, unfortunately falling short as Hermione had gathered herself and jumped onto his back.
She rolled him over, straddling him with her hands on his throat. Draco gasped as he felt the pressure in her hands grow with each passing second. He didn't bother to try to pry her hands off of him. Instead he pointed his wand at the remaining book and watched it fly overhead and into the fierce flames that were dancing behind them. Hermione had been concentrating so hard on cutting off his air supply that she hadn't realized what he'd done. Once the book hit the flames Hermione cried out yet again, falling over to the side and cradling her body once more.
Draco swallowed. He stared up above and all around him. The entire library was nothing but blue and deep smoke. The only thing he could see clearly was the stairs as flames lined the railings. He forced himself to sit up and looked over to his right. Hermione was there, non-threatening, with her hands over her face in order to mask with failure her silent tears. Draco removed her hands. Her eyes stared at everything but him and he frowned.
"You have to go." She said. One of her hands fumbled with the chain of her time-turner until it was off of her neck. Draco watched in disbelief as she tossed it into the nearby flames. She then brought her gaze to him for the first and final time. "I don't have a future anymore. But you do have a past to get to."
"Hermione…I can't just-"
"Go!" She shouted at him, using whatever strength she had left in herself to push at him. Draco stared at her with a dull ache in his chest. Without any more words said he pulled on his own time-turner and moved the rings back. He rested his head on the ground and saw more of the ceiling crashing down. It didn't hit him though. He was back in his own library in his own time. No flames. No smoke. No Hermione.
As Draco lay there, his adrenaline rush began to die and caused body parts to wake up. There wasn't a single part of him that wasn't in pain; so much so that he was surprised he was able to move at all. As he slowly made his way up the stairs, his left leg becoming less and less useful as he went up, he thought of Hermione. She had been right. You couldn't change fate completely. He had left her to die.
Draco made it to the book entrance and sealed it up after him. He would find a way a safer way to destroy his library. But for now he needed rest and a million different potions to set him right again. By the time he made it to the West Wing the sun was rising. He also saw Hermione in bed, stretching and squeezing his unused pillow. Draco felt weak and it wasn't because of his bodily damages. He could feel water springing to his eyes and couldn't tell if tears had actually fallen or if he was still bleeding. He smiled, tasting what remaining blood was in his mouth and walked over to the bed. He climbed onto it, hardly quiet about it as he couldn't contain his grimaces. Hermione opened her eyes and she sat up in alarm at the sight of him.
"Oh my –Merlin! Draco, what happened to you?!"
"Later… I'll tell you later."
"No, you'll tell me now!" Hermione said frantically. She was sitting back on her legs, her eyes pouring all over him, hands hovering over his body as though afraid to touch any part of him. "Draco, you need to go to St. Mungo's."
"I agree." Draco breathed, a sharpness spreading through his limps. "But I just need a minute. One minute to be alone with you."
Hermione bit her lip furiously. Draco was badly injured, but he was as stubborn as ever despite his current situation. And, despite his state, he was adamant about just being there with her. She sighed, clearly frightened, but she nodded and did what he asked. She moved to lay beside him, careful not to hurt him. And even though he had flinched throughout the entire endeavor, Draco furthered his outward pain and inward pleasure by wrapping an arm around her. They stayed that way for what felt like an eternity but was in actuality only until the sun was firmly in the sky.
"We can go to St. Mungo's now."
Hermione disentangled herself from him quickly and magically dressed. As he watched her order Avery to ask if Harry wouldn't mind watching Alex for her, Draco smiled. He knew that she would be okay –that they would be okay. With the books gone and soon the entire library, the cycle had been broken. The future had been changed. And their fate was finally in their own hands.
Author's note: And that's all she wrote, folks! I know it's not Monday, but I couldn't have waited a full week; especially after that cliffy I left you with :)
I can't even attempt to say how much I enjoyed writing this. I've never written anything like this before, so I'm thankful for the experience and so glad to have shared it with you :D
Thanks for reading, the amazing reviews, favorites, and follows. I'm still working on "Condemned with Reason", sequel to "Aurors vs. the Condemned" as well as a new story called "Destined." It's only three chapters in so far, and although I've been posting on it on Tuesdays, I'll probably move it up to Mondays now that this story is over.