Hermione closed her eyes tightly and felt her stomach churning as she and Draco blasted through the darkening sky. Hermione suddenly hit the ground hard and was rolling through damp mud and grass. She quickly propped herself up on her hands and knees and looked around for Draco who she'd lost contact with roughly during their landing. She found him not too far away lying on his back, just beginning to sit up. His clothes were muddy and his hair was a mess, it was the first time she'd ever seen him not looking picture perfect.
"Sorry, I've never done that with another person before," Draco said as he pushed himself up and dusted himself down. He walked over to Hermione and extended his hand to help her up with a loving look on his face, she didn't return it though, even though she was more than happy to be back with him where she belonged, she loathed him for sending her away like he did, for causing her so much pain.
Hermione ignored Draco's hand and pushed herself to her feet ungracefully, then glared at him silently. Draco opened his mouth to speak again but was silenced as Hermione slapped him as hard as she possibly could around his face leaving traces of mud and dried blood across his cheek. He looked at her again, the loving look was gone and had been replaced with one of complete shock.
"Okay, I deserved that," Draco admitted. Hermione wasn't satisfied though and tried to strike him again. Draco's reflexes were too fast this time and he grabbed her wrist before it came into contact with his face again. "Don't push your luck," he warned. Hermione tried with her other hand, ignoring his warning and attempting to hit him again, but he just effortlessly grabbed that one too. Draco stood holding onto both of her wrists and noticed the dried blood all over her hands. "What have you done?" Draco asked as he examined them.
"I did what I had to do," Hermione spat.
Draco moved closer towards her seemed to smell her hair. She knew what he was doing. He was searching for traces of dark magic - his closeness making her knees weak. Hermione had missed him so much but she couldn't let him get away with what he'd put her through and knew she had to stay mad at him.
"You've killed again, haven't you?" Draco asked as he pulled away from her slightly, but not releasing her wrists, knowing she'd probably try to attack him again if he did.
"I did a lot of things to get back to you. I'm not sorry. You see, unlike you, I actually care about us," she spat. Hermione knew she couldn't really say he didn't care about her, he'd just been willing to give up his life for her, but she wanted him to know that sending her away was the wrong way to show it.
"You remember everything?" Draco asked curiously.
"Every heart-shattering moment," Hermione told him, her voice cracking slightly under the pressure of the grief the memory caused. He looked at her seriously for a moment before his eyes turned sad.
"How?" Draco asked.
"You once told me the secret behind my necklace, do you remember?" Hermione asked as she touched it, it was so warm, and so soothing.
"Your father charmed it so one day; it might remind you who you truly are," Draco recalled with understanding as he remembered. "I thought I was doing the right thing," he added and then looked away from her as he finally released his solid grip around her wrists. Hermione thought about hitting him again but decided against it. This was the pain she'd been waiting to see, but it didn't make her feel as good as she thought it would, she just felt empty again.
"I'd like my necklace back," She said finally, not knowing what else to say, "I've realised how important some necklaces can be and I want the one you gave to me back - the emerald one."
"Trust me, you don't," Draco said, looking at her again, this time confused.
"Now!" Hermione demanded suddenly.
Draco raised an eyebrow at her and smirked, "you're in no place to be throwing around orders."
"I know you have it… I can feel it," Hermione said longingly.
"Why do you want it so badly?" Draco asked.
"It makes me feel connected to you, I don't know why."
Because it's a piece of my soul, he thought.
Draco considered it for a few seconds, not sure whether or not to give it to her, of course she was right - he did indeed have it. Finally he reached into his pocket and pulled out the emerald Horcrux and gently fastened it around her neck. Hermione felt the power of it as soon as it made contact with her skin again and breathed deeply, "thank you," she said as she felt Draco's power coursing through her veins once again.
"Anything for my Princess," Draco said and pulled her close to him. "I'm never letting you go again, I promise," he said as he held her tightly in his arms. He was complete again.
Hermione wanted to stay in his arms forever but knew she couldn't, she knew they had to go back. She reluctantly pulled away and looked back to the burning Manor in the distance, "They're destroying our home," she said sadly causing Draco to look as well.
"Are you ready to go back, to fight for it, by my side?" Draco asked as he held her.
"No," Hermione said honestly, "but I will. Nothing could keep me away."
"Just remember everything I've taught you," Draco said as he looked down on her. "I'll die before I let anything bad happen to you."
"That's what worries me the most," Hermione said and looked up at him.
Draco placed his forehead against hers and took a deep breath. "Hold on tight," he said and tightened his grip around her, pulling her close to him once again. "I love you, more than anything."
"I love you too, Draco," Hermione said as she held onto him as tightly as she could, knowing that it could be the last time.
Without another word they began to fly through the air again leaving a trail of black smoke in their wake. They landed better this time, although still very roughly and straight into the middle of the battlefield at the rear of the Manor.
It was completely dark now but the flames from the inferno that had now engulfed the manor cast a warm glow across the grounds, mixed with blasts of green light, being fired from every direction.
Hermione raised her wand with one hand and held the handle of the knife in her holster with the other. It wasn't too long before she had a hooded man running towards her with his wand raised, but he was struck dead by Draco before she could even think about defending herself. It was so hard to tell who was an enemy and who was not.
Hermione stayed close to Draco, they moved almost back-to-back through the crowds firing at anyone who raised a wand in their direction. There was no plan other than to murder, something Hermione definitely wasn't accustomed to.
Hermione noticed Narcissa in the distance duelling with three wizards, she was clearly becoming overwhelmed. Without really giving it a second thought, Hermione instinctively left Draco's side and sprinted towards Narcissa to aid her, firing unfriendly spells as she ran, and dodging just as many as she fired. Hermione heard Draco shout her name and she took a quick glance back as she ran. Draco was definitely the person everybody wanted to fight, but he seemed to be having no problem defending himself. Narcissa needed her help more than Draco did, so she continued to run.
When Hermione finally reached her mother-in-law she stood with her back-to-back, and protected her from behind as Narcissa mercilessly killed the wizards who had dared to challenge her. Hermione hadn't been using unforgivables, but as she narrowly avoided what felt like the tenth killing curse that had been fired at her she decided to change her approach. Hermione fired the killing curse at a crazed looking witch who was charging towards her and Narcissa wielding what looked like a flaming battle axe. The witch fell into the dirt with a thud, her enchanted battle-axe falling on top of her, setting her dead body ablaze almost instantly. The curse had felt more powerful than it had when Hermione had used it in the woods - it was almost effortless to cast. Draco's necklace definitely had something to do with it but Hermione didn't have time to analyse that now.
As Hermione and Narcissa moved together in battle, Hermione suddenly she tripped over something small and hit the muddy ground awkwardly. She looked up and landed eyes on Professor Flitwick who was covered in mud and ash. "Miss Granger, get to your feet immediately!" He said urgently as he pushed her up. When Hermione was standing again Flitwick fired a spell at a wizard who had just raised his wand at them, the spell turned the man into hundreds of bubbles, and once they'd all popped there was no trace of him left. "I'll support Professor Malfoy - find Draco!" He shouted and then joined Narcissa in her seemingly never-ending battle. Every time Narcissa defeated an enemy another would take his place.
Hermione looked around for Draco but couldn't see him through the crowds of fighting witches and wizards. She ran through the masses of people, dodging and firing spells with almost every step. Hermione was already so tired and so drained she didn't know how she was going to get through the battle. Hermione tripped again as she dodged a curse and landed face-first into the dirt. She was just about to get up when she noticed a wand pointing directly into her face.
Hermione's stomach sank as she stared into the eyes of death.
Hermione felt a wrinkled hand wrap around hers, and then with a gut churning twist the wand was gone, and so was she.
Hermione looked around to find that she was no longer in the thick of a fighting and was now lying on her front, on the side-line of the battle. Hermione looked up to see Trixie the house elf looking down on her with wide eyes. "Trixie lives to serve the Malfoys," said the elf kindly, "Trixie saved Lady Malfoy," she said proudly, her big saucepan eyes glowing with pride as the battle raged behind her.
"Thank y-" Hermione began but was cut short as a green light consumed the elf's body, the light flicked through the elf's bright eyes briefly, before they turned dim and lifeless and she dropped to the ground.
Hermione rolled onto her back to find the source of the curse and found Pansy looming over her with a manic gleam in her eyes. "Expelliarmus!" Hermione shouted and disarmed Pansy before she could bring her to the same fate as Trixie. Once unarmed, Pansy lunged at Hermione, landing on top if her, taking her by complete surprise.
They both now had a firm grip on Hermione's wand as they thrashed around the floor fighting for it with everything they had. Hermione head-butted Pansy in the nose as hard as she possibly could as the two of them fought for control of the wand. She felt a sharp pain in her head and then felt the warmth of blood trickling down her face. There was another blow of pain and a flash of white light over her eyes as Pansy punched her in the face and grabbed hold of Hermione's wand again - but Hermione wasn't about to just let her have it without a fight.
They rolled through the mud as they fought; Hermione finally got on top of Pansy and pinned her arms down with her knees as she thrashed beneath her. Hermione took a good look at her face and figured by the deformed shape of Pansy's nose that she'd probably broken it when she'd head-butted her.
"My King will kill you when I tell him what you've done to me!" Pansy squealed as she tried to escape.
Hermione rolled her eyes. Her King. It was actually laughable. Pansy really had done the rounds. It made her sick to her stomach that this glory hunting little bitch had even been in the same room as Draco. "Don't think for a second that you're going to live to tell the tale," Hermione said darkly as she loomed over her.
"You haven't got it in you," Pansy spat as she struggled to free her arms.
"I think you'll find Draco is a very good teacher," Hermione said and revelled in the jealousy that was now in Pansy's eyes, "one of his many, many talents. Not that you'd know of course, with him hating you the entire time you were together. Do you ever try to imagine what it's like to have him love you? I can tell you if you like?"
"He doesn't love you!" Pansy said in denial, "YOU FILTHY HALF-BLOOD!" Pansy screamed manically with disgust and anger. Hermione punched her hard in the face causing even more blood to pour from Pansy's nose.
"Yet I'm the one he gave his name to," Hermione reminded her, "Hermione Malfoy - has a ring to it don't you agree? Hermione Malfoy the half-blood - and he still loves me more than he would ever have loved you."
Pansy's eyes began to roll back into her head as she rolled out of consciousness, "oh no you don't!" Hermione shouted as she shook her by the shoulders, "I'm not done with you yet!"
Pansy suddenly freed one of her arms and grabbed Hermione around the throat. Hermione grabbed the knife from her holster and without another word she plunged it into the side of Pansy's neck. Pansy's loosened her grip and moved her hand to the deadly wound as the blood from it poured relentlessly.
"Hmmm, this looks familiar…" Hermione mused as Pansy bled out beneath her, "this is just how you killed Cecil, my muggle-born friend. The only difference is, I don't see anyone rushing to help you." Hermione spat. "I vowed I would be the one to kill you, and Draco said he'd offer you to me on a plate. Thank you for saving him the trouble. He's going to be so proud of me," Hermione taunted as the life drained out of Pansy beneath her.
Hermione pushed herself up when she'd grown tired of hearing Pansy gargling on her own blood, which took longer than she'd ever admit out loud.
Hermione stumbled along as she realised how lightheaded she was, she could see spots as she walked but knew she had to get back to Draco. With her wand raised Hermione ran back towards the fight on unsteady legs, she could barely see and didn't know what was pushing her forwards but whatever it was, she was glad for it.
As Hermione was running something grabbed her arm and swung her around, she focused her vision onto Draco's face for only a fraction of a second before she was pulled against his chest. She wanted to just collapse but she knew she couldn't.
"I thought you were dead!" Draco said in a shaky voice. He pushed her away slightly and cupped her face in his hand, more roughly than he'd intended to. Draco looked into her eyes as he touched her, almost as if he was trying to make sure he wasn't imagining it. He wrapped his fingers into her hair slightly and pulled her back against his body, and held her with unforgiving force. "What happened to you?"
"Pansy..." Hermione said and acknowledged the pain of losing the loyal elf for the first time as she felt her stomach drop at the thought of the poor elf dying.
"Pansy?" Draco asked as he pushed Hermione's head away from him again and looked seriously into her eyes. "She did this to you?" Draco asked angrily as he looked at Hermione's muddy, blood-smeared face.
"She looks a lot worse," Hermione said with a faint smile.
"Where is she? I'll kill her for laying a finger on you!"
"Probably dead already by now I reckon," Hermione said and then examined the fresh blood glistening all over her hands.
Draco smirked, "that's my girl," he said and then wiped the blood away from Hermione's eyes with his sleeve before he grabbed her bloody hand. "Come on, stay close this time."
Hermione was dragged along by Draco as they ran back towards the Manor. There was hardly anyone left living on the battlefield, but those who were still alive seemed to be Draco's men.
"We've cleared this side," Narcissa said as she wiped blood from her wand onto her otherwise immaculate robes. Hermione was amazed how Narcissa managed to look so perfect all the time, no matter what she was doing. She suddenly felt uncomfortable as she looked down at her own clothes; she was covered in dirt and blood. Hermione looked up at Draco and was a little relieved to see his hair was messy and he too had blood and mud dotted over his face. "I've heard the team at the front of the Manor aren't doing so well." Narcissa added.
"We need to get there right away," Draco said as he considered his mother's words.
"Don't you think it would be better if you and your wife went somewhere else? I'm sure that Blaise and I will be able to clear up the rest," Narcissa offered.
"No, If I'm not willing to fight then why should they?" Draco said assertively. "Professor Flitwick, we need some rain to put out this fire, could you arrange that please?"
"Well of course I can, but it will make the fighting conditions much worse." Professor Flitwick warned him.
"I know, but I need to save what's left of our home," Draco said sadly and then looked up to the Manor which was still engulfed in flames.
"Then it is done," Flitwick said and pulled out his wand and began to swish it around in complicated patterns.
"Let's go," Draco said and grabbed Hermione's hand again and guided her around the side of the Manor quietly as small droplets of rain began to fall from the sky. "We stay together this time, do you understand? If I lose you then I've lost this battle," Draco said and looked at her dead in the eyes as they came to a standstill. "Promise me," He demanded as the rain started to fall more heavily from the sky.
"I promise," Hermione said and Draco looked away and continued to lead her. The sounds of fighting grew louder in her ears the closer they got to the front of the Manor. Eventually it was so loud she couldn't even hear what Draco was saying to her this time, she could only see his lips moving.
As they turned the corner to the front of the Manor Hermione gasped and gripped her wand tightly. She looked over the masses of people fighting in front of her and swallowed hard. There must have been hundreds, thousands, she didn't even know. The rain was now pelting down onto her, soaking her clothes and slowly washing the dirt and blood off her face. The chaos was like nothing she'd ever seen before as Draco led her closer to the battle slowly.
"We stay and fight from here ok?" Draco shouted over the noise, "let them come to us!"
Hermione nodded and then jumped out of her skin as Blaise seemed to appear from nowhere beside them. He looked shocked to see her but it only lasted a fraction of a second before he quickly turned his attention to Draco. "It's not looking good my Lord!" Blaise shouted. "We're outnumbered two to one at least!"
"Don't worry, it's not about numbers, it's about power!" Draco shouted. "We're not dying tonight!"
Blaise nodded and then he was gone just as quickly as he'd appeared.
Draco pointed his wand into the crowd of people and looked hard through the rain. He and Hermione stood side by side and fired spell after spell at the oncoming enemies, the droves of people coming towards them seemed to get thicker and thicker. Hermione dodged a number of killing curses and was uncomfortable with the amount of space it had forced between her and Draco. A quick glance in his direction showed her that he wasn't happy with it either but was unable to do anything about it as he locked wands with a young wizard. The bolts of blue and red joined together and Draco would occasionally flick his wand slightly, causing purple sparks to fly out of the connection between their wands, which would shoot down anyone else who tried to attack while his wand was preoccupied. Hermione admired him for a moment, he truly was talented.
Hermione's attention was taken away from Draco as she noticed a jet of green light hurtling towards her, she tried to move, but she wasn't fast enough.
Draco saw Hermione fall to the ground in a flash of green light out of the corner of his eye and stopped casting his spell immediately. He glanced at Hermione's body, which was lifeless and unmoving on the slick wet ground beneath her.
No! Please no!
The grief passed through Draco's entire body sending him numb as he fell to his knees. The wizard he had been duelling with smiled menacingly as he tightened his grip around his wand. Draco didn't want to fight anymore. There was nothing left to fight for. He wanted the wizard in front of him to strike him dead in this moment of grief.
Draco saw a bolt of green light hurtling towards him but he didn't move - didn't even flinch. He closed his eyes and waited for the release of death, as to find his wife in the afterlife, but to his utter bewilderment it never came. Draco opened his eyes again in confusion to find the wizard had now connected wands with somebody else. Draco turned and looked behind him to see none other than Harry Potter standing there, wand locked and duelling with the wizard who had just tried to strike Draco down dead.
"Go to her!" Harry shouted as he struggled against the killing curse his wand was connected with. "Go to her now!"