Summary: Hermione stands on the battlefield, reflecting upon the loss.

Disclaimer: I'm not J.K. Rowling, so therefore, I neither own nor am making a profit, from the story contained herein.

We can see it all from here

The starless night across the mountain side

No one left to talk to

There's nothing left to say

(Sarah McLachlan - As the End Draws Near)

Absolution

Bodies lay everywhere, broken upon the stones that littered the battlefield. The grass, which had once waved gently in the breeze, was now sticky and slick with the blood of so many dead or dying witches and wizards. Hermione Granger stood, in the center of it all, pondering what it had truly cost her, and where she fit into the grand scheme of things now. Now that she wasn't Hogwarts' residential know-it-all. Now that she wasn't Harry Potter's best friend.

She stood, her body aching with the pain of so many weary days, driven to the brink of insanity, but forced always to return. Was it worth it? It had cost her so much, and she had very little to show for all the pain and sorrow and heartbreak she had been forced to endure. One of her best friends was dead. The other lay in a hospital bed then, clinging to the fraying edges of his life, like a climber who dangled from a thinning rope. He held on, but his grip was weak and the rope continued growing thinner every day. The light had left him, just as the boy they both loved did.

Perhaps that's what life is about. It's all leaving and broken promises and hidden truths.Everything Hermione loved left her. First it was her parents. They had struggled to hold fast to their daughter, but it was with a vague understanding at best. They couldn't possibly imagine why Hermione was willing to risk her life in battle for a cause that they didn't understand. After all, it wasn't their world she was defending. They were muggles and the magical community was of little concern to their daily thoughts and worries. They had supported her though, like all good parents should, and that had been the cause of their downfall.

Stupid. They were so trusting. So loving. The Death Eaters had used those traits to their advantage as the bombarded the house, masquerading as friends of hers in need of assistance from the war. They had been tortured until their bodies were twisted remains of what they had been, once upon a time, in the days of her youth. It was only then that they were killed. She had seen the Dark Mark as soon as she apparated into an alley nearby, but had gone anyway. She knew the house over which it floated, but she had had to see.

Hermione turned her face, the wind sweeping through her bushy chestnut hair. Upon it, she heard the whispered voices of all that she had lost, but there was no one there. The battlefield was empty, save for the bodies and herself. He had made sure of that.

She took a step forward. Her shoes were missing, lost somewhere amongst the fray. Her feet slipped upon the stones as she walked to the edge of the low cliff that looked out upon the chaos. She was unsure whose blood coated her feet, and for that, she was grateful.

Looking out upon those who were lost, Hermione was reminded of the photographs and films that she had seen of muggle wars. Everything was mangled, torn, ripped, shredded. Hopes, dreams, lives, loves; all gone forever. What a tragic waste. There was a poetic mystery to it all. The biggest mystery of all; what were we fighting for? Was it for freedom from fear and persecution by evil? Was it for peace?

The effect was nearly as bad as the cause. Voldemort was gone. Harry Potter had been sure of that. They were freed from Voldemort's reign of terror, but it had been short-lived. Now, Harry was dead and Lucius Malfoy had taken control of the Ministry. The take-over had been quick and brutal. Much of the Ministry had been slaughtered when the Death Eaters, now under Lucius' command, stormed the building. Arthur Weasley, Kingsley Shacklebolt, Nymphadora Tonks, and Percy Weasley were all missing, though Hermione held little hopes of them ever being found.

The battle still raged on. Hermione stood amongst the most recent losses, but in the end, this battle was only a fraction of the cost. How much? How much are we willing to pay for freedom? The fact that she still stood shocked her. She knew she was a good witch, probably the best in her year, but wasn't Harry better? How is it that he fell, yet I remain? How do I expect to last with Malfoy as Minister of Magic?

She had her allies on the inside. Unbeknownst to his father, Draco had been helping her since the beginning. Lucius had given his son a position in the lawmaking department of the Ministry, and he was careful not to arouse suspicion as he delayed laws meant to persecute and discriminate against muggleborn witches and wizards. She knew that it wouldn't last though. Soon, he would be forced to announce his betrayal and face the consequences, or cut off ties with her entirely. Would he ever truly abandon me? Throughout the years, Hermione had grown to love him, and he had taken to her as well, but she often wondered how tight a hold she had on his heart.

All would be revealed in good time. If nothing else, of that, she was certain. For now though, all Hermione could do was stand on the battlefield, the bitter wind whipping through her hair, and wait.

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Author's Note: After initially writing this as a one-shot, I was struck with inspiration, and I may decide to create a large story out of it. Please review and tell me what you think.