One month later, Hermione sat on the shores of the lake at Hogwarts. Professor Dumbledore had invited her back for 'safety reasons', as well as Draco and Malinda. Hermione felt a strange comforting, being back at her old school, safe and away from the new reign of Lord Voldemort, but something was still missing in her life.
She had never gotten to say goodbye to her two best friends. If there's anything worse in the world than losing two of your closest confidants, it's not being able to give them a proper goodbye. The emotions were sometimes so unbearable that she often broke out into painful tears of hurt and agony that wracked her entire body.
Draco was supportive in every possible way and even wholeheartedly agreed to join them at Hogwarts. "For the safety of my wife and daughter," he demanded. "Nothing's more important to me."
Hermione smiled to herself, through her tears, as she witnessed what looked like reflections of the past in the mirrored lake. The sun above her shone brightly, making the cooler air warm with sunlight. A temperate breeze wafted through the air, causing her to shiver and glance back at the castle. So many memories; so many stories to tell. So much to remember in such a short time.
If Ron and Harry's deaths had proven anything to Hermione, it was that life was short. She couldn't go on, pretending that she would live forever. She had had enough of putting things off until later, because one day, there wouldn't be a later. Ron and Harry had discovered that entirely too late and Hermione still ached with the loss of her friends. But life went on, she figured, even though more painful than she could have ever imagined. She still had a family to look after and dark and tough times ahead of her. If Voldemort ever had to be defeated, it was now. And only strength could help that.
She stood up from her place on the grass and stared into the flickering water for a few more moments. Then she turned, slowly, back towards the castle and made her way up the hill like she had done so many years before. Instead of the three figures advancing on the looming building, there was one solitary figure, alone in her own darkness, fighting to make her way in the troubled path called life.