Hermione stumbled through the halls, barely conscious of the looks, the glances, the whispers. She wanted to stop them all. Silence the world around her until it made sense again. Was it possible? Was it possible that her world could crumble so quickly, her foundation be shaken to severely? For once she'd felt that flicker of hope, the hope that there would be something after this war was over. Now chaos reigned. There was a churning storm within, swirling, confusing, and overwhelming her.
You look quite charming when you're annoyed.
She, who had always been so sure, had now made the most greivous of errors. And she seemed to keep making them. When Harry had given her the Felix Felicis, she'd so desperately wanted him to take it back, knowing the kind of danger he'd be in. Of course they wouldn't need it. How lucky they'd been. She should have listened. She should have seen, should have known.
Grief, guilt, and betrayal warred within her. She couldn't breathe. Couldn't think. Couldn't stand to listen to another word.
"Snape killed Dumbledore." The words echoed around her, unending. "And Malfoy, he let them in." The voices rolled over her, crashing into her ears. She escaped into the girl's lavatory, needing a least a minute of silence. A minute to try and comprehend.
I want you closer all the does being with you have to feel so good?
What was it Harry had said? The words had pierced her, shocked her into an uncomprehending silence. Emotions had reigned and she'd barely processed his account of the actions in the Astronomy Tower. Their tower. Vanishing cabinets? In the Room of Requirement? Their room. All this time he was there for them, not for her. Never for her. Could she have been so deceived?
Every word a lie. Every memory a façade. A way to shield her eyes from the truth. Just as he'd taught her with Occlumency – misdirection. She could see it all now. Every little misstep, every hint that should have forewarned her. His secret meetings with Professor Snape. His constant use of the Room of Requirement. The fact that he'd never told her about the Room of Hidden Things. She was blind. And Harry, Harry had been right all along. She gripped at the the edges of the sink before her. He'd never forgive her.
You're so beautiful, you know that?
"Hermione? Are you in here?" Ginny's voice drifted in. Hermione fled. The door to the stall swung firmly shut and Hermione sagged against it. The tears streaked her face and her body shook from her resistance to her grief and anger. No one could see her. No one could hear her. No one could know.
"Are you all right in there?" Ginny's feet were visible just outside the door. Hermione shook her head, knowing the red-haired witch couldn't see her.
"I'm fine. I just…" Hermione heard the quaver in her own voice and swallowed it back, "I just need a minute." She pressed a fist to her mouth to muffle the silent sobs that shook her.
"I know what you mean." Hermione heard a gently thump and knew that Ginny had rested her head against the other side of the door. "It's a lot to take in, yeah?"
Hermione couldn't hold back and let out a shuddery breath. "That traitorous snake." The venemous words bled from her.
That's all I want. To be with you, always.
"I know. It must be a shock for you, especially with Harry and Ron hating him all this time. But the entire Order trusted him, Hermione. Dumbledore most of all. I bet he never believed that Snape would kill him."
Right. Snape. Of course. The murderer. The ultimate betrayal to the Light Side. Just not the betrayal that consumed her at the moment. That was Draco. The orchestrator of all this destruction. Draco, the betrayer. Her enemy. Her husband. Her stomach rolled and Hermione leaned forward. But nothing came. She was hollow. Empty.
"It's just that… well Harry's asking for you," Ginny explained softly. "And Hermione, he needs us now. More than ever."
Ginny's words hit her like a splash of cold water. Ginny was here, for Harry, while her brother lay in the Hospital Wing and no one knew what would become of him. She could be stronger than this. Hermione nodded vehemently. Harry needed her. If they were to survive this, if they were to succeed, they needed to stick together. She needed to help him in any way she could.
"Hermione?" Ginny questioned and Hermione realized that the young witch couldn't see her nod.
"Of course Ginny. I will be there soon, I promise. Let him know I'll be right out." There was a moment's hesitation before Ginny's steps retreated from the lavatory. The guilt still lingered. How could she face them all?
You'd be mine. I'd be yours. It'd be that simple.
Hermione fumbled with her robes, pulling out the small locket hidden there. Her grandmother's locket. She flicked it open. There beside the picture of her grandparent's on their wedding day was the tiniest folded piece of paper. She placed it in the palm of her hand and placed the tip of her wand to it.
"Finite." The paper expanded then, flipping open side by side until it resumed it's normal size. She tapped it again with her wand. Gentle swirls now appeared on the seemingly blank paper. Words of promise, intent. Sacred vows. The contract that binded them, the magic that wove them together. She blinked hard as she looked at the broken words before her. The words that he'd said with such promise and conviction. The words that she'd vowed with each beat of her heart. If she closed her eyes, she could still feel the press of his lips, the heat, that spark of magic that sealed them together. And there inscribed on this parchment, the tangible proof of her folly.
I will love you all my life.
"Incendio" she whispered. The page caught flame, tindrils of smoke rising. And Hermione watched her love burn to ash.