Hermione felt like she had barely blinked when a hand rested on her shoulder to shake her awake. The little clearing they had stopped in was still illuminated by the light of the fading stars as she forced her eyes to open, but she made no protest, she hadn't anticipated a peaceful lie in. As the group of escapees gathered themselves the air was thick, they had made it this far but all of them, even Hermione, were acutely aware of the potential dangers that lay ahead. Hermione had begun to wonder who among them would be lumbered with her company for the next leg but it quickly became apparent that no matter what anyone else might have wanted Evander was determined that they would travel together. Thorfinn did not voice any complaint; the towering blond repeatedly stepped out of the way as Evander moved determinedly around the camp gathering up supplies. Hermione supposed it made sense, the two were not likely to settle their differences physically, and a friendship like theirs would have seen so many differences of opinion, it was best to let them come back around on their own.
After a brief conversation with a twitchy Rabastan, Evander stalked back to where she was, and Hermione finished folding her bedding into her small bag. As she pulled the rucksack over her shoulder, she considered what might have happened to her beaded purple purse. In the cottage she had once called home it rested inside one of the wardrobes in the bedroom, hanging up on the back of the door. Would anyone have taken it, for safe keeping? It didn't seem likely, though they must have searched the home and she didn't remember hearing mention of it on her list of crimes, maybe they just hadn't recognised it for what it was.
Evander must have sensed that her thoughts were far away as he guided her by the elbow, moving her around the milling men a lot more gracefully than Hermione would ever have managed on her own. This time they were the first to leave the clearing and Hermione shot a quick look at Louis as she passed. He answered her concerned frown with a wink and Hermione almost smiled. For so many her bouts of silence would have been beyond strange, had been for her friends, peers and the guards who had abused her, but not for these men. The Death Eaters around her communicated so much, often without words at all. She wasn't sure how to feel when she noticed more and more indicators that she had found some kind of abstract place, kinship and understanding amongst their number, it went so much further than just her relationship with Evander.
Hermione adjusted the bag on her back as they moved onto the path ahead and Evander released her elbow, moving to walk slightly ahead, but never far enough that so she was no longer in his line of sight. The journey the road took them on was different to the one before, the terrain was considerably less bumpy, though the woodland was far denser. A mere hour after setting off any thoughts of seeing the dawning sun were abandoned, the trees around them were so tall they blocked out most of the light. In places, the way ahead was marked only by the shimmering slats of sunlight that managed to break their way through the bark or muted magic from the end of Evander's wand.
Hermione felt herself relax more than she had been able to the previous day, Thorfinn's company made her feel like she was perpetually on the precipice of conflict. Louis' presence was incredibly soothing in comparison, but Evander, she couldn't even really explain what he felt like. Evander seemed to be able to anticipate every false step she made, almost presumptively reaching back to steady her or offering his hands to guide her over obstacles. Hermione had expected silence, but instead, Evander was more predisposed than ever to engage her in conversation. They were by no means chatty, but as their feet continued to crunch along the ground, they traded questions in a sort of game they had started weeks before. 'Tell me about' Evander would begin, in a tone that gently invited her to answer, and as day became night, Hermione asked a few questions of her own.
In a many ways, it was like having their bubble back, Evander had first cast the orb around them when they were in prison, somehow he had managed to block out their environment just by being there. When he had sat down and read to her nothing else in the world encroached on them, not the bruising covering her body, or the heavy weight of her heart. The protective, inclusive walls around them stretched when they arrived at the manor, their outlines growing to the bordering walls around the land of his family home, and yet for all that space, they felt like they were the only two people that mattered. In the sprawling grounds, Hermione often felt like she had been swept away into her own corrupted fairy-tale. Now they were here, trekking through the woods, Merlin knew where her feet hurt and danger prickled at her senses and yet she was conscious of the sun trying to shine and the birds singing. Until they were silent.
Hermione didn't notice how the noises of the forest around them had retreated as night fell, but Evander had, and she noticed him, his reaction put her on her guard. They had moved into a small clearing a few steps before, the first open space they had been in all day, a great area for an ambush, Hermione's mind supplied and she felt the tingling of those senses she had relied on a life time before.
Evander stood stock still for a moment, his eyes darting around them, he didn't look panicked, not even slightly. Her assessment of him was interrupted by a single sound echoed in the distance, a single twig snapping or something similar. It was followed swiftly by the rush of fast feet in the distance, and the atmosphere around them shifted entirely. Their bubble broke. Evander's usually neutral face took on a harder edge, though his expression never really changed there was a coldness about him that Hermione didn't recognise. As he swirled around, specks of light appeared in the treeline.
In a move quicker than Hermione could follow, Evander had gripped her by the arm and pulled her in front of him so he could meet her eyes. "Push your back up against mine, wand out."
Hermione did as she was bidden, the old reflexes simmering under the flesh of her fingers as she gripped her wand and held it out. A quick scan of the environment told her without much question that whoever it didn't have them surrounded, outnumbered indeed, but not surrounded. The real danger was at the front, where Evander was facing.
As Hermione's heart began to beat rapidly against her chest more figures appeared in the treelines, this time in her direction. She considered for a moment that there were more tracking them than they had initially thought, but then, her eyes narrowed. These figures did not appear with twinkling lights extended, announcing their presence. These figures appeared like wraiths, black hoods pulled over their heads, streaming forward with movements that were as flowing like a liquid, as intangible as smoke. Hermione could make out the occasional glint of their impassive faces; these figures were not ones she would need to defend Evander against.
Like the reality of the battles had Hermione faced in her youth she knew it would take her days to piece together all that happened. All she could pick out at the time were fleeting impressions, momentary recognitions of colour, shape and feeling. Perceiving the dark red of the advancing Auror robes, and wondering when Louis and Rabastan had gotten there. Shots were fired, vicious, bright, wounding shots, they moved passed her, at her, around her. Despite the threat Hermione couldn't fire her wand, she held it aloft, her hand holding it tightly as her arm cramped, but she couldn't think of a single spell.
One of their number fell, a black robe fluttered and then was still and a wall of Aurors moved further into the space.
"Get back into the trees," Evander called back to her and Hermione complied, doing her best to leave the space without detection. She needn't have worried, none of the men present even seemed to notice her, at some point the normal survival instincts expected in a skirmish had transcended to blood lust, on both sides. The fight between these forces was never ending; it was no longer about the principles that either side held, it was about the scars they had inflicted on each other's skin, past humiliations and the need for dominance.
When she reached the trees, Hermione pulled herself against a large trunk and watched Evander, free from shielding her smaller body he moved about the clearing with grim purpose. Hermione's eyes scanned for all of her fellow escapees, and her eyes widened a fraction. The release of the monster within, her mind chimed, Hermione could think of nothing to refute the statement.
Rabastan leapt around, propelling himself from place to place, brandishing his wand like he was fencing. He enjoyed it, Hermione realised, his dark eyes revelled in it, the spectacle, the fight, the kill. In all the time she had known him he had never looked more alive. Rabstan grinned horribly as blood spattered all over his face and Hermione looked away.
Louis fought in a way that Hermione imagined to the untrained eye would look lazy, he barely flicked his wand, and he advanced slowly. He didn't rush between the pockets of the battle he stuck with one until his opponent was vanquished. He used psychology, Louis got into the heads of those he was fighting, whether with Legilimency or merely the force of his power Hermione wasn't sure. He made look as if fighting was barely holding his attention.
Evander, like in so many other things, Evander was different. Stalking around the clearing he was almost unrecognisable, every angle of his face in sharp relief. He didn't play around; he didn't make any noise, he never engaged in unnecessarily protracted duels. His shots were vicious, to the point and nearly always fatal. He didn't attempt to display power or score points. It was simple to him, he didn't care if his opponent knew they were bested, whether they feared him before death, they were in his way. He was an assassin.
Hermione was concentrating so hard on Evander's process that she missed the exact moment when Louis fell. He was already tumbling backwards when a sharp cry alerted her to what had happened, and it had her running from the safety of her position without a moment's thought. The Auror he was fighting with had already been drawn away into another duel by the time her feet came skidding to a stop by his torso, and Hermione almost landed on top of his body in her haste to drop to her knees.
Louis didn't speak as she ripped his dark robe open and scanned over his shirt until she found a large patch of red advancing from underneath his heart. Hermione stared into his face, not wanting to look down at her sticky fingers.
"It's a flesh wound," Louis said with a familiar smile, one that twisted into a grimace as blood streamed from his nose.
Hermione screwed her eyes shut and palmed her wand, forcing herself to remember the healing charms she had learned for her time on the run. The magic came back to her this time, flowing through her mind like water and she thought to organise herself into action. Finally released from the blank she had been in Hermione cast all she could, fixing all of Louis' superficial injuries in an instant and doing what she could to the larger ones. As she worked the seeping blood revealed where else he had been hit, there were three large patches on his chest now, and they were all resilient against everything she was trying.
"Hermione," Louis said as the fifth spell had little effect. His voice was full of affection, of understanding, she couldn't stand it. She looked at him; his dirt lined face as he tried to pull his expression into one of unconcern. She remembered him, all those months before as he had dropped into a chair in front of her with the relaxed air of a passing Prince, despite their conditions, but it was his eyes that had caught her, it had been a long time since anyone had looked at her with anything approaching compassion.
"Your screaming," he began, apropos of nothing, "you should start practising Occlumency."
"No," Hermione choked out on a watery sob, her hands fisting into his ruined shirt. "No, you don't get to fucking die on me, not like this, not after you helped drag me here."
"Hermione," Louis tried again, his eyes pained but Hermione couldn't stop herself, it had been so long since she was this angry, this terrified, and she had no way to harness it.
"It helps with some of the darker thoughts," he explained looking at her intently.
"No! Don't you fucking dare! Do you fucking hear me?" she screeched, her vocal cords cracking in response to the intensity and volume. Her fingers clawed, and Hermione grit her teeth as tears streamed down her face.
"I could help you."
"Please, please, please, please," Hermione continued in a murmur as she brushed the dark hair from his face. She could hear footsteps approaching them, and Louis jostled underneath her, silently encouraging her to hide, but Hermione refused to go anywhere, she couldn't have moved if she tried. Instead, she twisted her head, her body remaining protectively over Louis' as she came face to face with Harry Potter.
He looked older than she remembered, by more than the years that had passed. Hermione's eyes scanned him slowly, her languid movements masking the trepidation she felt. She catalogued a few of the obvious differences, keeping her mind to dispassionate observations, he had been moved up in the corps, three ranks if she remembered the numbers on his shoulders correctly. Hermione wondered if there had been celebrations each time, she wondered how much she had missed, so much for being detached, her mind whispered. As the cold of the forest floor bit into her knees she cocked her head, Harry looked slightly taller. His eyes were red rimmed, and he had a gash across his cheek. Hermione's fingered prickled, so natural was the need to pull the cut to a close she had almost cast an appropriate charm from muscle memory alone.
They locked eyes with each other for a moment, and Hermione felt all of the breath within her body leave her in a rush. Harry was here, in front of her, really there, with no walls or bars in between them. Looking at her.
"Hermione," he began, and it was already too much, her chest felt as if it was being cut open she looked down and dug her hands into the earth. She hadn't been sure she would ever hear him say her name again, certainly not with so much emotion. Hermione didn't believe herself capable of hyperbolic emotions anymore so when she felt the lancing pain zip through her limbs she was almost sure she would die from it.
She looked up at him again, her eyes swimming with unshed tears as if her body was protecting her from the agony of seeing him clearly.
"Hermione, come with me," Harry bade, no, commanded, though he kept his distance. Even as his hand stretched towards her with a hint of desperation his feet remained planted on the floor. Through fear? Hermione wondered, or was he just unprepared to come to the middle ground. Hermione couldn't decide if Harry's tone sounded more like he was talking to a frightened child or a dangerous dog. She couldn't decide which one she deserved more.
Louis shivered beneath her and Hermione pressed her hand against one of the wounds on his chest without taking her watery eyes off Harry. She had looked at Ade Selwyn the way her friend was looking at her now, a strange mix of pity and wariness, never sure which emotion would win the day. Yet, she reminded herself, she had held that man, what was left of him, when he had passed on, even when he had clawed at her body in his last act of fury and madness.
Whether he took Hermione's silence for hesitation or merely suspected she was mentally deficient, Harry stretched out his fingers again, repeating his command, or was it a plea? Hermione's head quirked as she regarded his hand, one she had so willingly taken time and time again and at that moment she could do nothing else but mirror his pose. She wasn't entirely convinced that he was real, she had seen him appearing like this so many times though the spectre of Harry her mind conjured had never spoken before.
Hermione stepped up on shaking legs and reached her own bloody hand out. Her trembling fingers connected with her friend's skin for the first time in what felt like forever. He was real. So many memories flashed before Hermione's eyes, times in which they didn't both look so hollow, then one time when they looked worse, and she snatched her fingers away.
Blood, his blood, red, sticky, and thick with the weight of what she had done… It was everywhere.
Hermione stood up and instantly slipped, her bare feet skidding on the horribly wet surface. Her throat released a sound she didn't recognise, an anguished broken noise. Her head fell back against the tiles of their kitchen floor, and as she opened her eyes, she saw him lying there, looking blankly at the ceiling. Even though his still open eyes faced away it felt like they were looking for her, she could feel them boring into the side of her face, could almost hear his voice.
'Oh Hermione, what have you done,' it whispered.
With shaking fingers Hermione dragged her hand over his face, closing his eyes. The bloody trail across his pale flesh was worse than the expression of nothingness.
She gave up the idea of getting to her feet; her soles could find no purchase. Instead, Hermione crawled forward, under the table where she had thrown her wand and cast the alarm she had been taught at the Ministry, a unique distress call that would go straight to the Auror corps. When it was done, she pulled her legs towards herself and buried her face. She couldn't scream, her throat was in ribbons. She couldn't look up, he was there, Ron was there, and he couldn't look back at her.
There was noise a while later, people screaming her name but Hermione couldn't fully register where it was coming from, and then suddenly Harry was there, climbing under her table. Her friend. He reached for her and pushed her matted hair off her face so he could see her eyes and then held her hand, tightly. Hermione felt safe; she hadn't felt safe for so long.
"It's okay, Hermione you are going to be okay… did you see who did it? What happened… are you hurt?"
Hermione leant forward; she couldn't say much, her throat was bruised on the outside and cut to pieces from screaming on the inside.
"Harry," she whispered on a choked sob, "It was me."
Her hand fell to the floor like a stone.
"Hermione, you have to come."
Harry's words pulled her from her own head, wrenching Hermione from all of the darkness she had long tried to suppress. She had been so deep in the memory that she instinctively looked down to check her hands, when she saw the blood she took a step back, bile climbing her throat until a hand grabbed the back of her leg and Louis caught her attention. Harry's words had been enough to pull her out, but Louis had ensured that she landed on both feet. The action helped to settle her stomach, and she panted for a moment, enough to get her breath back, through the prone Death Eater never let her go.
In the interlude they were no longer the only ones on their side of the clearing, Hermione hadn't realised as she stood face to face with her friend how the rest of the battle had moved away from them. She imagined that it had probably been done with intent, but it didn't seem important right now. Evander crept forward, his face still contorted with avenging fury, his wand was raised high, level with his shoulder. He wasn't alone.
Hermione noticed that despite his almost maniacal glee Rabastan looked no different when in a combat situation than when he was enjoying a cup of tea, she wondered briefly what that meant about the man. Rabastan eyed Harry with such scorn Hermione was momentarily transported back to a time when she had seen these men fight before, a time when she would have been on a different side.
"Do you honestly think we'll let you fucking take her?" Rabastan spat, "You might be the-boy-who-lived Potter, but you're still a fucking moron."
A few insults were traded that Hermione paid no mind to, her eyes fell back to Evander, his wand was still raised but he, unlike Rabastan, only had eyes for her. His gaze was so intense it almost hurt to continue looking at him though Hermione couldn't look away. Evander's eyes pointedly dropped to the bangle he had placed on her wrist and Hermione tensed her hand into a fist so she could feel it pressing against her pulse point. This time when Harry spoke she found her voice.
"You have to come Hermione."
Harry started at that; he hadn't heard her speak, not a single word since the night he had found her covered in their friend's blood. His confusion lasted only a moment. "What do you mean you can't?" he seethed, "After everything, you're here with them! This isn't you."
"Who am I?" Hermione asked, instinctively moving to tug on a piece of hair that was no longer bouncing at her shoulders.
Harry stepped forward, but he paused again when he looked into Hermione's empty gaze, his own eyes shuttered. "Look, I know things… you were affected, I see that now, but we can sort it out, take you to the hospital you will be fine again."
Louis gurgled underneath her and Hermione fell back down, he looked pale, too pale, but some of the flesh on his chest appeared to be knitting back together. Hermione felt some of the sickness in her stomach subside; it wasn't enough, he needed to get out of here.
"Are you?" she enquired softly to the man still on the ground, not sure if he would be able to speak.
"I'm," Louis winced as his chest inflated with his next breath, "It's… it's okay I think, just sore."
"Hermione, stop it," Harry shouted, his face twisted into a grimace as he watched her movements, "they're monsters, Hermione, you need to come with now."
Hermione looked up at her friend; Harry had held up his wand though it wasn't clear who he was aiming it at. She pressed a kiss to Louis' cheek and murmured at him to keep still.
Once she got to her feet Hermione made to take a step forward, but Evander reached for her, his familiar cold hand folding tightly around her wrist, his grip pushed the bracelet into her flesh.
"Take it slow," he whispered into her ear, and Hermione relaxed into his touch. When he finally released her, she took a few steps towards Harry and tried to ignore the way her friend's relieved sag of his shoulders clawed at her chest.
"You look good Harry, you've grown up like I thought you would, back when we were kids," she said softly. He did. He looked so much more so than just older, though the years had not been kind to him Harry had grown into himself.
Harry fixed her with a hard stare, "Well, you look terrible," he replied, but his voice was laced with something so near their former comradery Hermione almost fell to her knees.
She nodded, she wasn't sure if she agreed, not wholly, but to someone who knew her before Hermione imagined her appearance would be startling. "I know, I look better than I did though."
Hermione turned then to look at Evander; he had remained standing back where he was, in line with the others, his boots in front of Louis' calves. His elegant hands moved in a quiet motion, and he tugged on a small piece of hair in front of his ear as he stared at her. His eyes smiled though his mouth remained unmoved, his show of emotion wasn't for anyone else but her. He apparently agreed with her assessment of her appearance.
When Hermione looked back at Harry his face was tinged a furious red, his eyes darted between her and the silent Death Eaters at her back, but eventually, he stepped forward, blocking out their presence.
"You didn't speak, not at all," he accused, "I came to see you, and you were silent, you didn't speak."
Hermione took a single step back. They couldn't stand like this forever, the battle was continuing to rage around them, and they needed to move. She raised her head and looked at Harry in the eyes; it was now or never, she had to face this, there would never be another opportunity.
"Nor did you," the words fell from Hermione's lips easily, she had spent so much time wondering about whether she should have said something, but at the time it had always seemed so difficult. It was amazing really, how simple words could change so much, and how the lack of them could do the same.
Harry's head snapped up. "What?!" he cried as he looked at her in total bafflement.
"You didn't say anything either," Hermione clarified again, her tone was neutral, there was no accusation, all that was left were facts.
"I don't know what you-"
"I came to your house, do you remember?" Hermione pressed gently, "You, Ginny, and her mother all sat around the table while my arm was in a sling. 'Oh, Hermione, you were always such a clumsy thing'."
Hermione didn't recognise her voice, and she wet her lips as she drew her coat closer around her. "He broke it," she continued finally, "he broke it because I made him hate me."
"It was an accident," Harry defended instantly, without even thinking, just like he always had.
"Did you believe that Harry?" Hermione questioned lightly, and his eyes dropped to the floor.
"He wasn't a bad person."
It was as close to an admission as she would ever get.
"I know," Hermione agreed because she did. She had loved Ron, loved him far more than Harry had ever understood. They had argued, they had seemed ill suited to the rest of the world, but they would have made it, could have if it wasn't for those last few years at school. They had become so dependent on each other, so sure that the other one could save them from the murky waters that were slowly closing in. In the end, their combined weight meant that both of them were set to drown.
Harry would never understand what the realisation of what she had done felt like. In one swift movement, one moment of total loss of control she had snuffed out the only person in the world that even vaguely understood how much she was sinking. For all, he had faced Harry was an idealist, for all that he could be an insensitive bastard Ron had always understood pain. Their kiss in the Chamber, the day of the final battle had been the beginning of the end, that one soft press of lips had bound them together, tied them to this grisly fate.
"We couldn't cope," Hermione breathed out, her confession laid out in response to Harry's.
I do not deny the blood on my hands, for even though I clean and clean and clean, the stains never leave.
Harry's face looked paler than Hermione had ever seen it before, he stared at her with wide eyes as he fisted his hands. "You need to come back," he said, as he tore at his unruly hair. "I lost Ron; I can't lose you too," Harry's voice was pleading, but Hermione couldn't relent, not now. She would never know what she would have said back then if he had been willing to listen. But she knew what she needed to say now.
"She's gone, Harry. I killed her the day I killed him."
Harry's shoulders slumped, and Hermione knew he understood, whatever creature he saw before him, whether he thought of her as a murderer, a traitor, or an empty shell Harry needed to figure out that the raw materials of what she was were never going to piece together in the same way. His bossy bookish friend with a quick temper and a penchant for the moral high ground was gone.
"She isn't coming back."
They were quiet. Harry looked as if his world was ending and Hermione hated that his expression was so familiar. Bonded through loss and heartache that's what they had been to each other. She told herself that he had a family, a whole plethora of people that would come to his side. The same people that had stood by and watched her and Ron fall apart.
Situations never got as bad as theirs had without warning. There had been signs, ample signs that would have shown what would happen if only anyone had bothered to look. Hermione had been in too deep to recognise how obvious it must have been; she had been too intent on keeping her head above water. Now, looking back with eyes not clouded by hurt or anger she could see the crushing inevitability of all of it. She and Ron had been caging around each other for months, just waiting for someone to light the touch paper. In the end, with what they had both been through, either one of them could have ended up dead. They were both too quick with their mouths, their wands, their hands. Hurting each other had become the only way either of them could feel.
But Hermione, the old and the new versions of herself converged into one understanding. If she had laid, broken and bloody on the kitchen floor, Harry and the world around him, would never have been mute, and Ron would never have been in Azkaban.
In the silence, Rabastan had used up what passed for his patience and raised his wand directly towards Harry. "Rab," Evander chastised, though Hermione barely heard it the warning it was spoken so quietly. He didn't move to intervene, he probably agreed with the other man's actions.
With more calm than she felt Hermione raised her wand, pointing at Rabastan who frowned at her. "No," he barked, but she ignored his ire.
"It's not your call," she replied, though it was certainly not hers. In a quick movement, Hermione disarmed him, though she imagined at least a part of Rabastan must have allowed her to do so. She may have been among their number now, but it didn't mean she was one of them, or a voice at the table, not that she had ever pushed for one. She had a bargaining chip; she just had to rely on their twisted sense of honour to ensure that it would be enough.
"You owe me Rabastan; I opened those doors."
"It's a shitty way to call in debt," Rabastan murmured before he spat on the ground, the spittle was red coloured, and she wondered if he had lost a tooth.
Harry looked at Rabastan with contempt. Despite his maturation, his emotions were never far from his eyes. "See, you don't belong with them Hermione," he demanded.
"I don't belong with you either," Hermione said, the words hollowing out her throat. It was a truth, they both knew it, but having it aired between them was a different thing. She imaged Harry had genuinely thought about bringing her home and things returning to normal, and in the way of daydreams, he wouldn't have considered any of the realities of that choice, how impossible it would have been.
Harry's face hardened, and Hermione held her breath, she knew he had accepted that she wasn't coming anymore and that his mind would already be whirring through the ramifications. Harry's black and white view of the world would never change if you were not his friend you were his enemy.
"I can't just let you leave here," he threatened as he raised his wand.
"You do, or we kill you," Evander said, interjecting for the first time. His voice was as calm as his face, but Hermione could hear how set he was.
"I'll find her," Harry protested hotly, and Hermione wondered if he believed it, whether he would even bother to try.
"You won't," Evander asserted as he took a step forward, smoothly securing an arm around Hermione's waist. Harry followed his movements, his face taking on a tinge of green.
"You can't ask me to do this," Harry said with a shake of his head.
"I'm not asking you to do anything," Hermione replied, her fingers moving to grip the end of her jumper, bracing herself. "I want you to stand back and do absolutely nothing."
She threw Rabastan's wand back at him; her point had been made. He caught it with fluid ease and moved to the ground, getting Louis to his feet.
Harry looked at her; his face morphed as if he were trying to reflect astonishment, but he was too tired to commit. "How do you expect me to do that?" he asked.
Hermione looked at her friend, watching how the slight breeze made his unruly hair even more ridiculous. He looked so young standing there, young and broken; it was time for him to rebuild, a new life, one that didn't include her in ways more than suppressed memories.
Hermione met his eyes for a final time, "You've done it before."
She took two steps back, and Evander closed in around her, his presence was as it ever was, her anchor in her storm. In a swirl of robes, they were gone.
A/N So, there we are, finished. I am sure to many of you this will feel like this is an abrupt ending. Heathen's is a story that has not been anywhere near as conventional as some of my others and as such a neatly tied off HEA didn't feel right for these characters.
Thank you to all of you that have read and added to lists, and passed on words of encouragement. The writing process has been an ordeal at times, and continuing has only been possible with your support. I hope you will forgive me if my output is a little fluffy in the next few months, I think I might have had my fill of darkness for a while.