A/N Well, here's the continuation of the last chapter… Hermione's justice is at hand and the Malfoys are about to pay dearly in very different, yet similar ways! Enjoy!
Chapter Twenty-Seven: Delivering on Promises (Part 2)
"Gods, Hermione, I do hope I wasn't imagining your summons! I have missed you more than I care to admit to even myself. Even the Dark Lord managed to forego too much of the Crutatius once he discovered I had actual feelings for you that he could manipulate to his benefit. It is to my benefit that he knows nothing of Severus' true attachment, shall we say, to you, or I daresay I may not be here…at least not in one piece. No matter, love, you did call for me and I intend on picking up where we left off. Please hurry…"
Lucius Malfoy was back in the room he shared with Hermione during her tenure as his 'guest'. He was gazing wistfully at the magical portrait he commissioned of Hermione on only her second day with him. He knew then that he needed to have her presence even when he'd have to leave her in their room alone. This portrait used to hang in his private study in Malfoy Manor, but he brought it here when she was abruptly ripped out of his life and he was released from the Ministry. She was a beautiful sight in her softly shimmering golden robes…a goddess, really. Her hair flowed luxuriously down her back with a few tendrils covering her chest. She didn't really move much unless he asked just right…she seemed a bit sedate, actually, but breathtaking nonetheless.
Lucius had been sleeping in his study back at Malfoy Manor when he felt a presence. He woke abruptly, wand at the ready. Nothing. No one. Then he heard her.
"Lucius? Lucius, can you hear me? Please, I need to see you again. I'm hoping our link is still working…Please meet me back in our 'home' Lucius! I need to talk to you…There's so much I need to say! Please come to me!"
He had thoroughly assured himself that he was imagining her voice, her sweet words, her being…but what if he wasn't? What if she really was calling out for him and he ignored it? She would be so hurt and confused…and he would've lost an unexpected opportunity to claim her again! Damn it all! Surely, it wouldn't hurt anything to just go and check? He'd spent enough time drinking his confusion and longing away. Perhaps, Hermione actually wanted him after all? There was only one way to find out…
And so, here he was…back at the Russian manor, back in their room…their 'home' as she'd called it…how unexpectedly endearing. 'What has this slip of a muggleborn done to you…a highly powerful, pureblooded Death Eater?' Lucius shook his head as he stared at Hermione's portrait. He didn't care why, he just cared about having her back…by choice. It wouldn't be long now…
Lucius froze. He knew that voice…but it couldn't be…she was dead.
He slowly turned around and felt his blood freeze instantly as his worst suspicion was confirmed.
"Yes, Lucius, it's me…and you, my dark angel, need to pay for what you've done this time. I do believe I'm just the one to hand down your sentence…"
"Are you sure it's that simple, Hermione?" Draco whispered next to her after she'd finished her explanation.
Hermione sighed. Didn't Draco think she'd thought this through thoroughly?
"Yes, Draco, it's that simple. You simply need to sprinkle the original parchment with dried scurvy-grass and then say the Evanesco spell. The scurvy-grass will muddle the words and weaken the magic that controls the parchment. You need to do it, since it's Malfoy magic. So, whad'ya say?"
Severus smirked at the way Hermione was taking charge of this situation and how incredibly little Draco knew about magic in comparison to her. He really had little to do at this point except watch and wait. His promise would be kept later.
"Anything, Hermione; you know that. Do you have the dried scurvy-grass?"
Hermione smiled and gestured to Albus who she'd asked earlier to retrieve the ingredient. Albus brought the dried scurvy-grass over to the pair and put it in Draco's open hand.
He sprinkled the grass over the parchment and watched as the words began to jumble and blend together. 'Befuddlement Draught! This is the key ingredient…How very clever, Hermione!' Draco thought.
He then pointed his wand at the pile of parchments with the original on top and muttered, "Evanesco!" True to Hermione's word and with little fanfare, the Optare Potion recipe and its copies were truly gone from existence.
If it weren't for the tears freely flowing from Hermione's eyes, Severus would've thought nothing of significance had just taken place. He'd really expected more resistance either from Draco or the parchment itself, but nothing like that happened. He immediately rose and gathered Hermione in his arms before Draco had a chance to digest what he'd just done.
"Shhh, Hermione! It's alright…you've done it! You've rid the world of that vile potion…you're free now," Severus whispered into her hair.
"I know it's just so wonderful…I can't believe it! I knew it would be simple once I had Draco's help, I just can't believe it's finally done! Oh, thank Merlin, Severus!" Just then Severus bent down and captured Hermione's lips in a sweet kiss that was both thankful and celebratory.
Draco promptly gathered his wits as soon as Severus embraced Hermione and felt his heart sink as soon as their lips touched. He simply gaped at the couple with a pained look upon his face. Albus was the one who finally took pity upon the young, misguided man.
"Yes, well, Miss Granger, Severus?"
Hermione and Severus separated and looked at the cause of their interruption with curiosity.
"I'm afraid there are still a few loose ends we need to attend to…namely what to do with Draco and Narcissa, and how to neutralize Lucius.
A mischievous smirk graced Hermione's face.
"Not to worry, Professor Dumbledore, Selena and I have everything under control…"
"Now if you can just be patient, Lucius dear, I believe our company should be arriving momentarily."
"Selena, I don't know how you came to be here or what exactly you think you're going to accomplish…"
Lucius didn't get to finish his thought due to the loud banging at the door.
"I think you ought to answer that, Lucius," Selena advised sweetly as her apparition lingered by the ornate window.
Lucius stared at her for a moment and then went to answer the door, assuming it was Hermione. Maybe he was just hallucinating; he'd turn around and see that there was no vision of Selena and never had been.
Unfortunately, Lucius Malfoy was wrong on both counts.
"Narcissa? What the bloody hell are you doing here?"
Selena laughed lightly.
"Why, Lucius, don't you know? She's come to kill you…"
"Professor Dumbledore, Severus? I need you to leave Draco and me alone for a few moments. He and I need to resolve a few issues between ourselves."
Severus' first inclination was to heartily deny that particular request, but in light of Hermione's earlier declaration and the feelings of love and trust he felt so deeply, he squelched that instinct, nodded his assent, and left abruptly followed by the headmaster.
"Well, now that we're alone with nothing left to do, I think you and I ought to talk, Draco." Hermione looked solemn, but peaceful as she sat upon her bed and gestured for him to sit at the foot of the bed.
Draco made himself comfortable and stared at Hermione in anticipation. The silence between them was thick and he was anxious to end the anticipation of what she had to say, of what would become of him. He reached out and gently grasped her folded hands as they rested in her lap.
"Hermione, you must believe me, I love you and knowing you so personally has completely changed my life!"
Hermione gently shook her head and fought back the tears that were threatening to fall again.
"Draco, I have no doubt about your feelings. I know what you say is the truth and I don't need Legilimency to tell me that. What I do need is for you to explain yourself…What in the name of Merlin happened to you to make you go from absolutely hating me enough to begin this twisted drama to loving me so much that you renounce your heritage, everything you've been taught, your family, and very easily your life? What I want to know is…why do you love me?
Draco was at a loss. How to explain such a thing? 'I guess I'll just try the old fashioned truth…'
"Hermione, I've never known love. Not love in the truest form, anyway. My mother loved me the best she knew how; my father, well, I don't know what he feels but I doubt it's anything like love…possessiveness, I think…pride occasionally. Anyway, I've never valued emotions; I only viewed them as a weakness. When I began this, I was so full of hate for you and your golden boy friends. Looking back, I guess I was jealous of your bond with them, your intelligence, and your fearlessness. It was that that really sent me over the edge. You just had no fear or respect for me or for anything I believed in. I had known about the Optare Potion from my father's drunken stories and I saw it as the perfect way to control you and put some fear and respect for all things Malfoy in you. I honestly had no idea how far this would go, or how many people would be involved. I really just envisioned a bit of humiliation, using you to serve my, um, sexual needs, and then just deny you the potion. I thought you'd find a way to fight the addiction or you'd just die. At the time, I didn't care; and now I am most ashamed and horrified at that thought."
Hermione gasped at that last little confession of Draco's most intimate thoughts. He looked up sharply, as if he'd been shocked, saw the terror in her eyes, and squeezed her hands. He needed to get on with this quickly or she just might hex him to death.
"I'm sorry, Hermione! I know it's unforgivable, but it's truly why I did it. I just wanted to break you. What I ended up doing was breaking myself. But I found something unexpected lying dormant under that façade, Hermione. Somewhere along the line, I got possessive of you and that's why I kept you with me so much. That wasn't the original plan. I found myself wanting to actually make love to you, to give you pleasure, to make you want me. I was supposed to be using you, but instead I was falling for you. You were so beautiful, powerful, determined, intelligent…I didn't know it until you went and wrote that letter to Professor Snape and Father made me hand you over. Oh gods, Hermione, the moment I handed you over to my father, I felt my heart for the first time. It was breaking! I just wanted to keep you safe and I thought if I gave Father what he wanted, he would just get bored and give you back. I wanted to get you off that damned potion…I was just too weak. You are everything I wish I was and I love you for that and for giving me the chance to actually feel. I am saved because of you."
Draco felt the warmth of tears fall as he let his emotions out for the first time in such an honest way. He then felt a soft hand touch his face and wipe those tears away.
"Thank you for telling me, Draco. I want you to know that I forgive you. You can't help the way you were raised, but you can change the kind of man you become. I don't know why this had to happen, but I can see that several positive things may come from such a horrible situation. I hurt deeply, Draco, I do. I wish I could forget, but that's not the answer for me. It is for you, though."
Draco looked up at Hermione with confusion in his eyes.
Hermione smiled. "Draco, I want you to feel this love you have inside for me, but I want you to be able to give it to another who will be able to return your feelings. I don't want you destroyed by this. I'm going to modify your memory, so you will remember this love and have a vague memory of the girl you felt it for, but all of this will be gone. You need to forget me and what you've done. I don't think you'll ever forgive yourself enough to move on and that's what I want for you. I want you to love another the way you love me and have a happy life. I also know the Dark Lord will want you, but we can't let him have you, so you will have to go into hiding as a Muggle until this war is over. Don't get me wrong, Draco, you will know you have aligned with the Light and that we have worked together, but this whole Optare business and what role you've had in my suffering will be erased."
"No, Hermione! You can't! You mustn't! I don't want to forget you! I'll go away; I'll live as a Muggle; I'll do whatever you want, just please let me have the memory of loving you! Please…"
Was Draco Malfoy actually begging her to not make him forget her? This situation just gets stranger and stranger…
"Draco, you will not forget the love you feel, just the identity of the woman you felt it for. I will not take the good away, just your knowledge that it was me you loved. You will have the good memories of us, I promise. I'm sorry, but it's what I've decided."
Draco looked into her eyes and saw only kindness and warmth. Under different circumstances, she could've loved me…I am truly worthy of love. Just as he accepted his fate, Hermione leaned in and gently kissed his lips to let him know that his thoughts were true. The Draco Malfoy he had become was indeed worthy of love.
And with that last moment between them, Hermione signaled for Albus to return. She felt it was safer for a more experienced wizard to perform the spell. In all honesty, she was too emotionally involved to be sure of her accuracy.
As she left the room, she heard Albus say, "Optare Obliviate!" and felt her heart seize briefly. Someone like Hermione Granger cannot be so cold towards another who loves her so much. It was indeed a loss for Hermione that Draco Malfoy had now lost his memory of her. They had been through so much together; not all of it was good, but some of it was sweet and intimate. She couldn't love Draco the way he wanted. She loved Severus and would always love him. She just didn't want someone who had been so close to her even in the most twisted of circumstances to suffer needlessly. She decided at that moment that although it was necessary for Draco to lose his memory of this for both of them to move on safely, she would put her memories of them in a pensieve. Perhaps one day he would be ready, but for now the obliviation was necessary for everyone involved to be truly happy.
"Lucius Malfoy, what the bloody hell is going on? Is that Selena Snape?" Narcissa asked as she pointed to Selena's apparition. Oh, she was truly irate! Where the hell was she and why the bloody hell was the ghost of her husband's former lover doing there floating over by the window? If Draco hadn't told her about Ms. Snape's former acquaintance with her husband, she would be utterly confused. Unfortunately, she was all too aware of Lucius' and Selena's past and didn't like it at all. Just moments ago, she'd actually been pacing in the little cottage in which Draco had left her simply fuming over what she would say to Lucius when she finally saw him again and trying to decide if there was anything that lying snake could possibly say to make her feel any better. She doubted it. Then some purple potion bottle appeared out of nowhere. She really should've known better, but she was curious… It ended up being a portkey set to take her here…but where was 'here'?
Lucius didn't like where this was going. He still didn't know if Hermione was going to show up at any moment, but he somehow doubted it. This was more likely a set-up. He wondered if Hermione had anything to do with it, but decided that she simply couldn't have. This must have been Selena's ethereal work. He really needed to get Narcissa out of there. She looks livid and ready to carry out the threat Selena had just delivered. 'Narcissa loves you, you fool! She's not going to harm you…Just find a way to remove her and then deal with Selena.
"Narcissa, my dear, how did you get here? What are you doing here?
Narcissa didn't answer. Instead, she began inspecting the room. Part of her half-expected Hermione Granger to be under the bed or in a closet. Her attention was drawn back to her husband. She looked at him as he spoke to the ghost of Selena.
And what do you mean, Selena, that she's here to kill me? Narcissa loves me; she wouldn't do anything to harm…"
And then her attention was drawn to the ornate portrait that hung behind him. Hermione Granger was indeed present in a most disturbing way. Hell hath no fury…
"Am I hallucinating, or is that a portrait of that harlot Mudblood who's made our son fall in love with her? WHY do you have a portrait of bloody Hermione Granger in this, this bedroom?"
It was becoming all too clear to Mrs. Malfoy that Hermione had not been some senseless shag or some passing fancy of Mr. Malfoy's. She'd really tried to convince herself that Lucius found out about Hermione and Draco and just let his baser instincts allow him to try what his son found so enticing. She had really been trying to accept that this dalliance of her husband's had just coincided with their latest coupling and that she should forgive and forget it…but now it appeared she was deluding herself…He commissioned a fucking portrait of that Mudblood! Oh, the rage!
Well, Lucius Malfoy was not about to let his wife get away with admonishing him or embarrassing him, so he resorted to his normal cold indifference. Big mistake.
"Narcissa, this is my personal space and what or whom I choose to have in it is none of your concern. You really need to leave. Go back to France. I am expecting a guest and would really rather you were gone when she arrives. I'll deal with you later."
"Oh, really, Lucius? Are you expecting your little Mudblood whore, Hermione Granger? Well, you can just forget it! Because right now, dear, she is in the very capable care of your son, Severus Snape, or both! I'm sure they're all getting along just beautifully! I'm sure Miss Granger can't even remember your name by now! You colossal FOOL!"
During this entire confrontation, Selena Snape simply watched with gleeful satisfaction. That is, until Narcissa's last jab. Now Lucius' wand was pointed at her throat and his face was red with rage.
"You think you know so much, don't you! Hermione Granger has meant more to me in the short time I spent with her than you ever did in all those long years we've been married. She is sweet and beautiful and kind and enchanting! Just because you're a beautiful woman, Narcissa, doesn't make you irresistible! I never wanted to marry you! I wanted Selena Snape and was denied her by my overbearing, pompous father! He was oh, so kind to allow me time to have my fun with her, but she was not as willing as I'd hoped. So, I had to take matters into my own hands, or cauldron, if you will. I hadn't counted on Selena taking her own life and it nearly killed me when she did. I never loved you; I loved only her."
With that last confession, Lucius and Selena looked each other in the eyes for the first time ever. Lucius' anger diminished as he felt himself transported to a time when he felt love for the first time. All of this Optare Potion business really stemmed from unrequited love. Selena was astonished to see that he was telling the truth. She wondered how someone so cold and cruel could feel something so pure.
Narcissa let the tears fall as they had been threatening to do for days now. She had never truly belonged with Lucius and she'd done so many horrible things for the sake of his love and name…accepted the Death Eater life, detached herself from her son the way Lucius had ordered, refused the many other offers of love and companionship from other men, accepted the shags and flings he endlessly endeavored to have, made love to him whenever he came to her, never asked for anything in return that wasn't normally due a pureblood wife…oh, the list goes on and on. And now this…Her life has been a joke, a waste…
Lucius broke the long gaze he held with Selena to regard his wife with disgust. 'Now she's crying! Of all the pathetic, useless…' Then, his thoughts were disrupted as Narcissa's wand was drawn and placed next to his.
"You have made my life a lie, Lucius Malfoy, and for that I will never forgive you. I allowed you to do it because I loved you, and for that I will never forgive myself. You may have run my life on your terms, but I'm choosing death on my own. I hope you rot in hell anguishing over the love that will never be yours. At least I had the love of my son…You cannot say as much."
And with those final thoughts Narcissa Malfoy uttered the killing curse and fell at Lucius' feet.
Lucius didn't even try to stop her and this made Selena see that she was indeed right about him. Love for Lucius Malfoy was selfish and controlling. It had to be on his terms or not at all. There was no true compassion in his twisted heart and because of this, she pitied him and decided to carry out her justice.
"Selena, I don't know what to say…you said she was here to kill me and she ends up killing herself. What a pity…"
"Indeed, Lucius, it is a pity. I had hoped your wife would see you for what you were and still are today, and seek retribution. It did not occur to me that she would be so devastated that she would end her life as I had done. Your love is lethal, Lucius. Hermione almost didn't survive it and most definitely would not have lived if it weren't for the honest, enduring love my brother shares with her. I can't believe you used that potion on another innocent, Lucius! How could you? I can see that there is nothing redeeming about you or the life you've lived, save your only son who has managed to grow a heart in the midst of this ordeal. It's over, Lucius. You've caused enough pain. It is time…
Lucius never knew what hit him. One moment he was listening to one of the sweetest voices from his memory lash out sour words at him as he gazed at Hermione's portrait longingly. He could take it…she'd feel better once she had her say and then she would leave him in peace. But, as soon as she stopped talking, she swooped down upon his body and took control of him. She was possessing his body and simultaneously lulling him into accepting her there.
"There, there Lucius. You see, now we are one…just like you always wanted. You should be careful about what you wish for…"
And with that, Lucius and Selena, as one entity, opened the window in the tower of his Russian manor and walked out into the cool summer sky.
Lucius Malfoy was no more.
Selena Snape had delivered on her promise to herself and Hermione. Now, both of them were free.
Well, I hope this ending to Lucius and Narcissa doesn't disappoint! I hope you're all content with Hermione's decision about obliviating Draco. It seemed bittersweet to me, anyway…just like his role in this tale! One chapter left…Severus' promise and a beautiful future await our angst-ridden couple…
I do apologize about the delay. I seem to write monster-sized chapters that are literally rewritten about twenty times! I really appreciate the readers and reviews! It's been over a year now…WOW!