Chapter 29 – The Perfect Ending


Prior Incantato

"Professor Snape finally created an antidote," Harry explained.

Hermione blinked. "An antidote for what?"

"For Somnio Eternus—or rather a form of it. Don't you remember what happened, Hermione?" he asked in concern.

She shook her head slightly, her face cringing as she tried to remember what was going on.

"Neville, Neville Longbottom, you remember him, don't you?" Hermione nodded and Harry continued. "He somehow knocked into your potion and doused both you and Malfoy. You've been unconscious for the past few months, Hermione."

xXx

Finite Incantatem

Cross my heart and hope to
I'm lying just to keep you here
So reckless, So thoughtless
And I could care less

This glass house is burning down
You light the match, I'll stick around
I'll give you everything you want
And wish the worst of what I was

A feeling of shock rushed through her body. If she had been unconscious for the past few months, then was everything that had happened to her a dream? Slowly, she brought her hands up to her face, rubbing her eyes gently. This couldn't be—everything had seemed so vivid. Draco—her relationship with Draco, had all that been a dream too? Why did everything seem so real? Was it possible that Draco had had the same dream she'd had? Did he even remember? Would he even want to remember?

A thousand questions raced through her mind at the moment, and yet she only cared for the answer of one of them.

"How's Draco?"

"You mean Malfoy?" Harry stepped aside and Hermione spotted Draco on the opposite of the hospital with Snape and Blaise by his side. "He still hasn't woken up yet, although he was making odd noises before, like he was in pain or something."

"I hope the prat's in some serious pain," Ron muttered vengefully.

"Why isn't he awake yet?" Hermione asked, trying not to seem too concerned.

Harry shrugged. "I don't know. He got the potion before you did."

"Not too big of a loss if he never wakes up though, eh, Hermione?" the Weasley sniggered.

"Yes…right…" she replied distractedly as she drew her sheets up farther.

Just then, the nurse bustled in through the doors with a large tray of food. "Out! She needs her rest!" Madame Pomfrey scolded, placing the tray before Hermione and brusquely waving the boys out.

"Well you'd think three straight months of sleep was enough rest for anyone now, wouldn't you?" Hermione heard Ron mutter to Harry as they both gave her a hug and left to the room, promising to return later.

"Well, here you go, eat up. You need your strength," the nurse ordered, forcing a large silver spoon into Hermione's hand. "Come on, eat, girl."

Hermione obliged and dipped the spoon into her thick mustard coloured butternut soup. "When can I leave?" she asked after taking a spoonful.

"Soon, soon, a night I suppose. I need to make sure that you'll be alright. I don't want you passing out in the hallways now." The nurse began to cut up her Salisbury steak into tiny, bite sized pieces.

"Homework, what about homework—I must have so much to catch up on—" Hermione continued anxiously.

"Don't you worry about that. I'm sure Professor McGonagall will take care of that. Just eat and rest. I'll be back to check up on you in a bit." And she scurried out of the room leaving Hermione with a mountain of food atop of her bed.

xXx

The Gryffindor sat on her bed, silent and unable to eat another bite as her nervous brown eyes wandered involuntarily over to Draco's cot where he still lay motionless. The professor and Blaise had left a short while ago, assumingly to go and rest, as the sun had set hours ago and the sky had darkened to a midnight blue with faint stars glimmering through the large glass windows.

Hermione shivered as her bare feet came into contact with the ice cold stone floor. Instinctively, she slipped on a cloak that had been hanging at the foot of her bed over her nightgown and made her way soundlessly over to the opposite side of the infirmary.

Silently, she kneeled down beside his bed and tentatively ran her hand across his cheek. The feeling was so familiar—it couldn't have been a dream; but it was—somehow it was. "Draco," she whispered softly as a tear slid down her cheek. She was so afraid he wouldn't remember—that it was all just a dream and that they—Hermione and Draco had never existed—that Artemis and Adonis had never existed. It just wasn't fair. She couldn't lose him now—not after all that they had been through. "Draco," she whispered again, laying her head onto his chest. "Don't leave me—you promised you wouldn't leave me," she cried soundlessly. "Please, Draco….I want to be with you….I love you."

Hermione never did return to her bed that night.

xXx

A night in an awkward position had cost her dearly. When Hermione awoke early that morning her back ached with pain and her legs had gone numb. Gradually, she blinked the sleep away from her eyes and the world began to come into focus. "Good morning, Draco," she said quietly as she stood up and stretched out her limbs. As quickly as her arms and legs allowed her, she darted back into her bed as she heard the faint sound of footsteps nearing the infirmary doors.

"No, no, I don't believe so—" Hermione caught the nurse telling Professor Snape as they strode through the doors. "I haven't heard a peep out of him all night."

"I just don't understand why Mr. Malfoy isn't awake yet. As I recall, Miss Granger had gotten an even bigger dose of the concoction her and she's fine," said Snape, sounding frustrated as he returned to what seemed to be his usual seat next to Draco's bed. "I just don't understand."

"Ah, Miss Granger, you're awake," said the nurse, glancing her way. "Stay right there; I'll be right back with some morning nosh for you, my dear."

Hermione watched attentively as the potions master held several uncorked flasks of potion and began to tip them down Draco's throat, one by one, waiting to see the reactions each had on him. "Enervate!" he muttered, waving his wand across the lifeless body of the Slytherin boy. Sitting up, Hermione watched anxiously as she waited for something to happen.

But nothing did.

"Professor?" Hermione asked meekly after Snape had finished trying the fourth flask with no avail.

Snape whipped around, seemingly startled. "Oh, Miss Granger—how are you doing?" he asked distractedly.

"I'm fine," she replied dismissively, "How is Dr—Malfoy?"

Professor Snape sighed and set his vials down. "I honestly don't know, Miss Granger. I can only presume he is still alive. But things are not looking too well at the moment."

"Will—will he ever awake?" Hermione asked, dreading the answer. "I—I mean I did. Why hasn't he?"

He sighed yet again, closing his eyes briefly, "I don't know. Something must have happened to him. Somnio Eternus is only supposed to be a dream, but with the fairy powder added, who knows what could have happened?"

"A lot, apparently," she muttered under her breath as her eyes wandered over to Draco. He lay as still and motionless as ever, like a porcelain doll, pale and lifeless, yet beautiful. "Will he remember what he dreamed about, Professor?" Hermione asked looking back up.

"It's hard to say, he might and he might not," replied Snape, getting up from his chair. "Did you?"

The Gryffindor girl stared at the potions master, then back down to at Draco. "I—"

Just then, Madame Pomfrey burst through the doors carrying within her arms a large tray of food. "Here you go, Miss Granger. Eat up," she commanded, setting the tray down before Hermione.

"Thank you," Hermione murmured, sprinkling liberal amounts of brown sugar onto her porridge.

"Severus, you best get going, classes will be starting in about 20 minutes," Poppy reminded him."Did you have a good sleep, dear?" she asked turning to Hermione. The brown-haired girl nodded and picked up her spoon."Do you think you're feeling good enough to leave today?"

Hermione shrugged listlessly, her eyes following the Professor as he swept out of the infirmary. "I guess."

"Well, you seem to be okay, but I don't want you going to classes today. It's far too stressful for your first day of recovery. You may leave as soon as you're done eating. Try to get some rest, won't you?" Hermione nodded again, tucking into a plateful of hash and kippers. "If you feel the slightest bit strange, I want you to come straight to me, do you hear me?"

"Yes, I will—thank you, Madame Pomfrey," she said before taking a sip of pumpkin juice.

The nurse took one last apprehensive glance at Hermione before heading over to Draco's cot.

After finishing every last bit of her breakfast, Hermione slipped into the fresh set of robes that had been left out for her and hurried out of the hospital wing without even a glimpse backwards.

xXx

"Fidelis."

But the portrait did not budge. Hermione frowned; it seemed the password had been changed yet again. She turned and glanced around. She saw no one from Gryffindor anywhere near her. Unsure of what to do, she began to knock on the portrait, attaining an irritated glare from the Fat Lady. Ignoring her, Hermione continued to knock until someone finally came to the door.

The Gryffindor boy stood at the door, his mouth hanging open. Hermione stared back up, giving him a crooked smile.

"Gods, we missed you," Ron murmured, enveloping Hermione within his arms.

"Are you sure you missed me or did you miss me doing your homework?" she joshed, hugging him back.

"A bit of both in all honesty, Hermione," came Harry's voice.

Gradually, Ron released her and stepped aside, making way for Harry who stood behind him. She stared at him, wondering whether or not she should approach him. He still didn't know she had ever had feelings for him, but she supposed this was for the better. "Do I get a hug?" she asked shyly, holding out her arms.

Harry grinned brightly; his effervescent emerald eyes seemed as bright as they had ever been. "Glad you're back, Hermione," he whispered into her ear as he took her within his arms. "Glad you're back."

Hermione sighed into his chest. A few months ago, she would have been ecstatic to be in his arms, having him whisper things into her ear. But now—now all she felt from all this was an even stronger yearning to have Draco back. Breathing in deeply his scent, she noticed that it hadn't changed the slightest bit. It was just as Harry-like as ever and incomparable to Draco's. "Glad to be back, Harry," she answered, unsure of whether or not she was telling the truth. Giving him one last squeeze, Hermione released him.

"You seem tired. How do you feel?" he asked, picking his book bag up off of the floor.

Very slowly and cautiously, Hermione replied, "I—I don't know yet, Harry. I don't know…"

She received odd looks from both Ron and Harry. "Well, I'm sure you'll be fine," said the Weasley brightly. "Are you coming to class today?"

Hermione shook her head. "No, not today."

Ron laughed at this. "Never thought I'd live to see the day Hermione Granger would willingly miss a class."

Smiling faintly, she shrugged. "Things change, Ron."

"Well, no matter how much things change, you'll always be our perfect little know-it-all, Hermione. Always." With a final hug, and a promise to meet her at lunch, her two best friends left, heading off to classes.

Hermione stood and stared blankly at their retreating figures, even minutes after the portrait hole had closed. A few other Gryffindors had come up to her and welcomed her back before they'd left for classes. A strange feeling had been knotting up within the pit of her stomach, making its way up to her heart the moment she had awaken. Dismissing it as an after-effect of the potion, Hermione strolled around the common room, taking in her surroundings. It all seemed so strange. This—this was all supposed to be her life—her real life. But somehow, her life at Hogwarts seemed more like a dream than everything that had happened at the Granger Castle. Here, she felt a gaping void, like a part of her soul had been taken from her. As Princess Artemis, she never felt this way. But then she thought again—was it as the princess? Or was it when she was with Draco?

The Gryffindor girl distinctly remembered telling him once that she was scared of losing him—of existing without him by her side. She had been so afraid—like she was now. Closing her eyes, Hermione leaned against the crimson walls of the common room. She could feel his soft, tender lips against her own—she could still smell his distinctive scent—one that was his own and no others. She could hear his voice—echoing within her mind.

"I didn't want to lie to you. I didn't want to hurt you…" He trailed off, staring hard at the ground before her feet.

"You're not supposed to care about me," she hissed, failing to control the words that seemed to flow unstoppably from her lips.

"I know." Uncertainly, he looked back up at her. "I'm—sorry."

That particular conversation had embedded itself into her mind. Hermione shivered, remembering how cold and terrified she had felt; terrified of what could happen—terrified of what he could do to her. The heart was a fragile thing. Not something to be toyed with. It wasn't just something she gave away easily—in fact, she had never given it away before, but she was sure she had given it up to Draco.

Feeling overwhelmed by the sudden shift in time and place, Hermione carefully eased herself into one of the large burgundy chairs that sat before the presently unlit hearth. Her mind spun around in circles—for the first time in her life, Hermione Granger did not know the answers to her own questions.

xXx

The days seemed to drag on forever, torturing and twisting the inhabitants of Hogwarts Castle. When the daylight had turned to darkness more than several times, the hand that lay upon the farthest cot in the infirmary twitched for the first time in months.

His heart beat rapidly within his chest—all was black—why was everything black? Had he gone blind? This couldn't be happening to him—no—he needed light—he needed to see—he needed to find—someone…someone….

His cracked lips slowly parted, he tried to cry aloud—but his throat was so parched no sound would come out. He breathed in deeply, gasping for air—air—he needed to breathe—he needed to move—

His body ached with pain as he tried to move—he had to get out of here—he had to get away from—from—from who?

"Hurry! Keep him down—don't let him escape!"

"I've got him! I've got him!"

"Keep him there! Hold him down!"

NO!

No!

This couldn't be happening—no—no—they wouldn't get him—

"Keep him still!"

"I'm trying!"

He had to get away—he had to—he just had to escape—

"Open his mouth! Hold his arms down!"

NO!

They were going to poison him! NO! He had to find his way back to—to—

"I need another vial! Someone go fetch another vial!"

No! NO!

He needed to save—he needed to save…save…her….her—

"ENERVATE!"

His throat seared painfully—like molten lava being forced into his mouth. A burning, bubbling feeling erupted as the liquid fire made contact with his stomach. His body was on fire—they were burning him alive—he was going to die—

No!

NO!

"NO!"

His silver-grey eyes burst open—light—light from somewhere flooded his vision—blinding him. "AGH!" he cried in agony, throwing up his arms to shield his eyes. His heart thudded restlessly within his chest; he could feel cold sweat dripping down the sides of his temples, and his clothing sticking to him like a second layer of skin.

"Draco! Draco!"

That voice—he knew that voice—

"Draco! It's me!"

Slowly, he let his arms down, his eyes fluttering open.

"Draco!"

A rage of anger washed through his system as he laid his eyes upon the person before him. "YOU!" In one swift move, Draco bolted up, paying no heed to his aching limbs and let his fist collide smoothly into the jaw of the boy that stood before him.

"MR. MALFOY!"

Draco's head whipped upwards—it was a woman—she seemed familiar. No—no—Draco lurched forwards and attempted to take another swing at the boy.

The boy ducked, clutching at his bruising jaw. "What the fuck, Draco!"

"Mr. Malfoy! Stop this instant!" the woman in white demanded.

Draco ignored her, blood rushed like a river through his ears—he hated this boy—he hated him. As quickly as his legs would permit him to, Draco stumbled out of the bed and charged towards him again.

"STUPEFY!"

His body froze—what was happening to him?

"Blaise! What happened?" squealed a frightened Hestia, rushing in from somewhere and putting her arms around the boy's shoulders.

She was comforting the enemy! He knew she wasn't to be trusted—

"Traitor!" Draco croaked.

A tall dark haired man with an expression of both confusion and relief approached him and heaved him back onto the cot.

A second vial of dark plum coloured potion was forced into his mouth. Ever so slowly, his breathing slowed—they were killing him—slowly, slowly, the world became a sea of black.

And then...

There was nothing.

xXx

The scene before him was terribly blurred, but he could make out the two figures standing before him—a tall dark one and a short white one.

"I don't understand what happened, Severus."

"And you think I do?"

"Well—oh never mind. Look, he's awakening."

Draco groaned softly as he tried to sit upright.

"No, no, Mr. Malfoy, stay down."

Ever so slowly, as if building a puzzle piece, the different parts began to fall into place. The Slytherin gently rubbed his eyes and glanced around his surroundings.

Stone walls.

Bleach-white cots.

Cabinets filled with strange vials and bottles.

A tall, dark haired, hook-nosed man.

A short, plump, white-clad woman.

He was back in Hogwarts.

xXx

She felt empty.

Lost.

Alone.

A part of her life was now gone. He had been there—he had melded himself so perfectly into her life, she couldn't remember how it had been before him. They had fit together so harmoniously. He knew everything she wanted. Everything she was.

But he was never meant to be there, and yet somehow, he had become the one thing that had been holding her together. And now that he was no longer there—now that he had torn himself away from her…he had broken her.

Hermione lay in her bed, staring blindly up at the ceiling. Her cheeks were aflame from her stream of tears, and both sides of her pillow were damp, but she paid no heed to it.

He was never supposed to be her constant. Harry and Ron were. They were always there—they had always been there, and they would always be. He, on the other hand, didn't belong; he should never have become a part of her.

So why did she feel so desolate without him?

xXx

"Thrice, counter-clockwise. THRICE, do you hear that, Longbottom? Not once, not twice, but THRICE."

Shrinking back, Neville nodded vigorously, his eyes wide with fear.

Professor Snape continued on with the lesson, emphasizing specific instructions every now and then.

"Oh, yes, he was so terribly distraught."

Blaise huffed loudly, pointing towards a large bruise spread across his cheek. "Distraught is an understatement. The boy's bloody maniacal! Look what he did to my face!"

Pansy rolled her eyes at him. "No, he isn't. And besides, you like it! You know full well that Madam Pomfrey could have given you a potion for that. You just like sporting that ugly thing on your face to make you look tougher."

The raven-haired boy grinned devilishly. That was only part of the reason. He also quite enjoyed the extra attention that his little red-headed doll gave him because of it.

"Oh, Merlin! What happened to you!" Ginny squealed, as Blaise stalked into the near-empty dungeon for their weekly lesson.

"It's nothing, I'm fine," he said firmly, giving her a chaste kiss on the cheek. "Let's get started."

But Ginny wouldn't let it drop. "No, you're hurt—oh, dear, here, sit. Do you need anything? An ice pack? Or—or, have you gone to see Madame Pomfrey?"

"I'm fine, Gin," he replied, giving into her. "Don't worry so much. And yea, I have. She assures me my injury isn't life threatening." Blaise grinned cheekily, leaning forwards to pull the little Gryffindor into his lap.

She gently brushed her fingers across his cheek. "Does it hurt much?"

"Just a bit," he said,shrugging, "But I'm sure we can find a way to make it better." He raised his eyebrows suggestively.

Ginny giggled, and gently placed a soft kiss where his wound was. "All better."

Blaise frowned."I'm afraid you're going to have to do a bit better than that now, Miss Weasley."

She rolled her eyes, but complied, leaning in to meet him.

"Wipe that look off your face this instant, Zabini."

Blaise quickly shot out of his reverie, and glanced up. "What?"

The copper-haired Slytherin girl clicked her tongue and shook her head at him, "Thinking of the little Weaslette again?"

"No, I was thinking of Ginny," he shot back, before glancing back up at the instructions upon the blackboard.

"Whatever," she said dismissively, "and before you so rudely tuned out on me, I was asking whether or not you were coming to visit Draco with me after class."

"Maybe, I don't think I've healed enough to take another bruising from that lunatic, " Blaise replied, getting up from his seat to gather his ingredients.

"Fine, then I'll get Adiran to go with me," she said, before haughtily turning her back towards him.

xXx

"I hear he's gone mad too. Bull if you ask me. I say he's always been mad."

Harry chuckled "Can't disagree with you there, mate," he said, continuing to dice his amalgam of herbs. "What do you say we go take a look at him later? It'd be funny."

"Yea! Then maybe we can try and finish him off and blame it on his lunacy!" Ron exclaimed excitedly, accidentally knocking over his beaker of liquid darkness.

"Ron! Will you be careful?" Hermione cried as the murky substance spread across the table and dripped onto her robes.

"Sorry, Hermione," he said sheepishly, picking up a rag to help her. "I got a little over-excited."

Hermione took the rag from his hand and began to dab at herself. "Over what?"

"Apparently Malfoy's gone mad. That sleep seemed to have addled his brains." Ron replied with an ever-present nastiness in his tone.

The Gryffindor girl perked up at the sound of his name. "How—you mean he's awake?"

"Yea, awful shock,isn't it?" he said, misreading the expression up on her visage.

"When'd you find out?" she asked, abandoning the stain upon her robe which began to glow eerily.

"Just today. From Ginny," he added, answering her following unasked question with a scowl upon his face. "Ruddy Slytherin told her….If I didn't hate Malfoy so much I'd consider thanking him for knocking him out…."

Hermione stopped listening to him as he ranted on about his little sister and Blaise.

He was awake.

He was alive.

He was here.

But what did that mean?

xXx

There are exactly ten breeds of dragons known to the wizarding world: Antipodean Opaleye, Chinese Fireball, Common Welsh Green, Hebridean Black, Hungarian Horntail, Norwegian Ridgeback, Peruvian Vipertooth, Romanian Longhor…

Angrily, the Gryffindor girl slammed her book shut. Three hours sitting in the library, and she hadn't even finished reading even a paragraph.

This was hopeless. Her stubborn mind simply would not allow her to concentrate on anything.

Nothing.

Except him.

Hermione had been procrastinating ever since she'd heard about his awakening. A part of her yearned to go and see him again, but the other part of her, the part that had eventually won over, was too afraid.

Exhaling loudly, she buried her head into the crook of her arms and tried to sort out her mind.

She wanted. But she didn't. He was there….but he also wasn't. The Gryffindor girl was furious at the contradictions that had never been there before. It seemed to her that someone had worked hard to make her life difficult. It wasn't fair. Life was supposed to be fair to her. She worked hard, she received impeccable grades, and she helped to save the world. That was supposed to make things easier for her. Simplicity. Her way. That was all she wanted.

Her eyes drifted towards the reading area where several couches were spread out. Only one of the three was presently occupied.

Ginny and Blaise.

Hermione watched as the Slytherin and the Gryffindor teased each other, playfully bantering, and sharing sweet kisses with one another without a care in the world.

Why did Ginny get to be with the one she loved? Why did they get to be together in spite of the fact that they came from rival houses? Why wasn't it Draco and Hermione who were together?

It should have been THEM. Not Ginny and Blaise.

But Draco and Hermione.

They deserved it more. THEY were the ones who were supposed to be together.

The quill she held within her right hand crumpled, and the tip splintered, piercing her flesh and drawing blood. But she didn't care. Hermione continued to glare furiously at the two lovers.

Why GINNY?

Why not HERMIONE?

She had earned it! She had worked endless hours to achieve her goals. Not Ginny, not even Blaise. It wasn't fair.

It wasn't FAIR!

She hated them. She hated how they could be together. She hated how they could be Ginny and Blaise.

She didn't need this. She could do whatever she wanted. She could have whatever the fuck she wanted.

And she wanted to be with Draco.

xXx

Her heart pounded wildly within her chest, back and forth, back and forth, at an increasing rate. She had no idea how she gotten where she was now, but her legs had led her there, knowingly leaving her mind behind, and that was where she stood, at the infirmary doors, almost certain he would be alone, for it was long after hours.

Taking in a deep quivering breath, she readied herself for the worst, and with a firm, but ice cold hand, she silently pushed open the doors and stepped in.

It took a moment for her eyes to adjust to the strange lighting within the room. It was dark, but a single curtain had been drawn open, letting in a steam of light from the crescent moon.

Her eyes shifted.

There he sat, his pillow propped up behind him, his wand, illuminated and tucked neatly behind his left ear,shining light onto a thick, green book which he held within his hands.

Draco hadn't noticed her come in, nor had he heard her. But a light gust of wind had swept past his face when the doors had suddenly opened. Glancing upwards, he noticed a dark figure standing by the doors.

He squinted, but it has too dark to make out who it was.

"Who's there?" he demanded, his voice was hoarse and raspy. Blindly, he reached his hand over and took a sip from a glass of water that had earlier been left atop his bedside table. Again, he asked, in a voice that sounded quite unlike his own, "Who's there?"

Slowly, the dark figure moved towards him. Draco reached up and removed his wand from behind his ear, pointing the light in the direction of the figure.

His wand fell, rolling off the side of his bed, landing at the stranger's feet.

It was her.

He had thought of this moment from the very second he had woken up. A thousand different scenarios had run through his head, all of them ending in having her back in his arms again. But never had he imagined that that moment would come so soon.

"You dropped this," she whispered, her voice echoing within the spacious room. Her fingers gripped the very end of the wand, holding it out towards him as if she were afraid to touch him.

Ignoring the way she held the wand, Draco reached forwards, the book slipping off of his bed, and took hold of her hand. His eyes never left her for even a second.

"Hermione."

Her heart melted. She never would have imagined that he would ever say her name like that again. So full of love and compassion. Tears began to flow from her eyes.

He remembered.

"Draco," she cried softly, as he pulled her into his arms.

"I love you, Hermione." He held her against his chest as she cried. Never had he missed anyone so much before. Gently, he drew back and placed his hands upon her face, wiped away her tears and finally, he kissed her.

She tasted exactly as she had before, even if it had all been a dream. The familiarity of her lips upon his own brought warmth into his body. His mind was blissfully blank. He knew nothing, except that he never wanted to let go of her.

The sky was still dark, but a hint of light still shone from somewhere outside.

She had fallen asleep in his arms, and he had awoken early, just a few hours before the break of dawn. Her head lay warm and comforting against his chest. He could feel her warm breath through the thin material of his shirt.

The room was silent, serene, in no way reflecting what he felt inside at that very moment.

This wasn't right. He couldn't do this to her. Draco knew he should never have acknowledged her. He never should have taken her back. If this ever got out, he would be in the deepest shit of his life.

It would not only affect him though. Merlin knew that if only he were to pay the consequences, he would, without a second thought. But the consequences would take its toll upon Hermione as well. Perhaps even more so than they would upon him.

It would kill him to see her hurt because of him.

At this, Draco almost laughed. A few months ago he wouldn't have minded so much. It was amazing how one girl could change his perspective on things. It wasn't that he suddenly wanted to become one of the 'good guys' now, but he had realized something that should have been known to him long ago: there was no good and evil. There were liars, backstabbers, those who would always be willing to lend a helping hand, and many others. But everyone was a mixture of it all. Nobody was just one thing. Nobody was good or bad. All you had to do was look deeper. There were always those who seemed one way at first, but one would soon realize that there was always more to them. At least in most cases.

Hermione was one of those people. She had so many different levels to her, it was impossible to discover them all, perhaps unless he spent the rest of his life with her.

But he would never be able to do that if she was dead.

Draco loved her. He loved her too much to see her die.

As carefully as he possibly could, Draco slipped out of the bed, and picked her up, cradling her within his arms. She stayed sound asleep, breathing rhythmically against the beating of his heart, creating a strange, yet melodic sound.

He knew it would be nothing of a surprise to her if she had fallen asleep in the library. This wouldn't have been the first time.

Looking around, Draco searched for the table which he knew she frequently occupied and gently, he laid her down upon one of the chairs, resting her head upon an open book about Dragons.

He could feel his heart breaking as he looked at her. It would be the last time he would ever see her like this. Tenderly, he leaned into her and kissed her one last time upon her forehead. As he did so, Draco brought his wand up with him, and whispered a single word:

'Obliviate.'

xXx

"Ginny, do you really think it's safe for me to in such proximity with your brother?" Blaise murmured uneasily, as his sweaty palm tightened around Ginny's hand.

The little red-head rolled her eyes at him, and glanced towards her brother.

Ron had a rather peculiar expression upon his face. Like he was holding his breath and running at 80 kilometres an hour in the snow. Bright red and trembling.

It had seemed like a fairly good idea at first, to invite Harry, Hermione and Ron out for the Hogsmeade weekend to get to know Blaise a bit better. But judging by the lack of conversation between them, the anxious looks from her Slytherin boyfriend, and the glaring ones of her brother, Ginny now began to second guess herself. At the very least she would have expected Harry and Hermione to help her out by making strained conversation about Quidditch or schoolwork, or anything at all. But nothing. Harry had been grumbling the whole way about wanting to go out with Cho, and Hermione had been strangely silent, expressionless almost.

Frustrated, Ginny glanced over to Hermione, trying to catch her attention. But she got nothing in response. She looked over to Harry and silently pleaded him to help her break the ice.

Harry sighed and surrendered. "So, Zabini, you like…Diesel," Harry motioned towards the red tee-shirt Blaise sported beneath his open black jacket.

"Uh, yea. Do…you?" Blaise asked awkwardly, glancing down at his tee-shirt.

"Yea, I do. It's a muggle brand. Why do you wear muggle clothes?" Harry asked, sincerely curious.

Blaise shrugged. "I like it. It looks better than wizard clothing."

"Ginny wears wizard clothing," said Ron suddenly. Those were the first words he had spoken all day. Ginny almost preferred that he wouldn't say anything at all.

"Well the witches clothing is nice. Ginny looks good in anything," he replied smoothly. "I'm just…Finicky with my clothing style I suppose."

"I wear wizard clothing!" Ron exclaimed, determined to stump the Slytherin.

"Okay…well, everyone has different tastes. Not everyone's the same. If we were, well, that'd be quite mundane, wouldn't you agree?" Blaise answered eloquently.

Ginny beamed up at him and gave his hand a quick squeeze, "Yes, Ronald, you agree, don't you?" she said, glowering at him.

Ron mumbled an incoherent response, staring at the ground, kicking up pebbles.

"Don't your parents mind you wearing muggle clothing?" Harry asked, no longer struggling to make conversation, but rather, finding the Slytherin to be different, more interesting than what he had previously assumed.

"No, well, yes, I'm sure they'd rather I donned wizard attire, but they don't mind so much as long as I dress appropriately, I suppose," said Blaise.

Ron could think of no more to say. It seemed that Blaise was a fairly decent guy; a fairly decent Slytherin guy. And it appeared that Harry had taken a liking to him, so Ron supposed that gave him a few good points. Harry was a good judge of character for the most part.

As they turned the corner and walked into Three Broomsticks, Ron pulled Blaise behind for a quick word as the others filed in.

"Okay." Ron began, both hands in the pockets of his cloak and his head down fast. "Ginny likes you—for some reason. You…are not that evil. Harry thinks you're okay. Hermione…well I don't know; but you're okay. I don't particularly trust you yet, and I'll be watching your every move. I'll kill you if you hurt her. Harry and Hermione will kill you if you hurt her. Fred and George will make your life a living hell if you hurt her. The Gryffindor team will come after you and beat you down if you hurt her. I will have everyone come after you if you hurt her. Is that understood?"

Blaise grinned nervously, he wasn't exactly sure whether or not Ron was kidding or not, but he decided he best not even try to find out.

"Loud and clear, Weasley."

Ron nodded and led Blaise inside, "and another thing, more like many other things actually, you're not allowed to kiss her, go anywhere near her bed, snog her, touch her, hug her…."

"What's he rambling on about?" Harry asked Ginny as the two boys walked in.

Ginny smirked and shifted farther into the booth to make room for Blaise. "Probably listing all the things he's never experienced."

xXx

His magic would never have been strong enough to erase the effects of Somnio Eternus, but at the very least they obliterated every memory of them being together last night. He never wanted to see her hurt. But he knew she would, just as he would.

Two weeks ago, they had been together in the very cot he would be leaving today. He hadn't seen her since.

He felt more empty and emotionless than he had ever felt before in his life.

But he knew this was right.

"And don't forget, I want you back her in a week. Just to check up on how you're doing," said the nurse, as Draco pushed open the doors to leave.

He nodded in reply, and said a quick, "Thank you," before turning around and leaving.

Draco headed straight down to the Slytherin common rooms from the infirmary. All he wanted to do was get back to his normal life.

A life without her.

After brushing past his house mates Draco fell onto his bed. Before it had felt so right, perfect even. But now he found he just couldn't get used to the stiffness of his Slytherin-coloured bed.

Closing his eyes, he could still remember everything about her. Every fleck of gold within her eyes, every curve upon her body, every smile she had—there was even one, one which he liked to think was made just for him.

He could still vividly recall her soft, velvet-like fingers brush across his face, sweeping aside the strand of hair that now hung defiantly across his right eye, as if taunting him.

His silver-grey eyes wandered until they fell upon a large silver-framed picture. Draco strode across the room and carefully picked it up.

The family that stood together within the picture looked immaculate. A tall, white-blond haired man with a stern expression upon his face, an arm across the shoulders of a lavishly adorned woman, and one hand upon the shoulder of a younger version of himself.

Draco blinked at the unmoving portrait. Even in image, a cold, threatening aura seemed to flow from within his father; it was as if he had been watching Draco's every move. The Slytherin boy exhaled deeply and set the frame down, turning around to face the mirror. His own reflection seemed a constant reminder of who he was—of what he was, and what he was to become.

Some things were just inescapable.

xXx

There was no doubt in her mind that she was the luckiest girl alive.

He was tall, handsome, brilliant, sweet, and best of all, he had incredible oceanic-blue eyes which seemed to pull her in, like a rapidly swirling vortex, and never let her escape.

Blaise Zabini was the perfect guy.

At least in her eyes.

Ginny watched attentively as he flew swiftly through the air, swerving and looping dangerously. Simply by watching him, she felt a strange, comforting contentedness that welled up within her chest, revealing itself through an unbreakable grin upon her lips and a relentless spark within her crystal blues.

Skilfully, Blaise tossed the Quaffle across the pitch. Draco sped up upon his broomstick, hurtling through the air to catch the ball in time.

"He's good," Natalie commented as she watched the group of boys flying around the field.

The little Gryffindor never broke her eye contact with her boyfriend as she replied, "Yes, he's wonderful, isn't he?"

The older girl laughed and cocked her head, "Actually, I was referring to Aaron," she pointed up towards the quirky Asian boy who had beaten Draco to intercepting Blaise's Quaffle, "and if you stare any harder, your eyes might fall out of their sockets."

Ginny stuck her tongue out at Natalie and finally turned her head to face her. "Have you talked to him yet?"

The Gryffindor's topaz coloured eyelids fluttered as she replied, "Maybe."

The Weasley rolled her eyes, "Those who can't, teach," she grinned.

"Something like that," Natalie murmured, turning back to the field.

A cold rush of wind and a blurred green figure zipped past the girls, startling them.

"Hey," said Blaise breathlessly.

Ginny smiled up at him shyly. After all this time she still couldn't believe that she had finally gotten the boy of her dreams. With his windswept hair, his faintly flushed cheeks, and smile that took her breath away each and every time she saw him, Ginny knew she would never tire of him. "Hey, you."

"Care for a ride?" he asked, shifting over.

Glancing over, she noticed Natalie was still gazing fixedly at Aaron. "Yea, sure, but on two conditions."

"Two? What a slave driver. Woman, you are so lucky I love you," Blaise joshed.

Ginny rolled her eyes, "One, I get to steer and two…" pulling Blaise near, she whispered a few quick words into his ear.

"What? Really? Girls…" he sighed. Placing two icy fingers into his mouth, Blaise whistled shrilly, "Ning, over here!"

Natalie's shimmering eyes snapped wide open as her object of desire began to speed towards her direction.

"Yea? Sup?" Aaron asked as he slowed down, hovering next to Blaise.

"This one," Blaise motioned towards Natalie,who was now gaping in astonishment at what was happening, "has never been on a broom before. Take her for a ride, won't you, Ning?"

Aaron gave him a funny look and glanced down at the golden-haired Gryffindor girl with a crooked smile. "Okay…you wanna ride?"

"I—I—yea, sure, if you don't mind," she stuttered, wishing she could somehow sound more intelligent.

"Jump on then," he said, hopping off his broom to give her a hand on.

Ginny gave Blaise a chaste kiss on the lips in appreciation, "Thank you. I owe you one," she whispered, getting onto his broom.

"Of course you do," he replied, kissing her once more.

"Alright, so hold on tight…uh," Aaron paused, turning around to face Natalie, "…what's your name?"

"Nat—Natalie," she answered eagerly, wrapping her arms around his waist.

"Right, Natalie, hold on, and tell me if I'm going too fast, alright?" Natalie nodded, and he began to fly off.

"I love you, Gin!" she mouthed, with a wide grin plastered across her face as they sped off.

Ginny laughed, "And that is what I like to call Payback."

xXx

She'd followed him all the way from the dungeons, trailing metres behind. She didn't want him to suspect a thing.

For almost a week she'd been preparing herself for this moment. The moment when she would finally confront him….or at the very least talk to him. Ask how he was feeling. It would be a light and simple exchange of words between schoolmates. Easy. Nothing hard about that.

Jogging a bit, Hermione finally managed to catch up with him. "Hey," she cried, placing a hand on his shoulder to stop him.

But that was her demise.

She never should have touched him, never should have looked into his eyes, or breathed in his scent.

She never should have come to him.

The moment he had stopped and turned around, she had lost her mind. All she could think of doing at that very moment was throwing her arms around him and pouring her heart out, telling him how much she missed him—everything about him.

He stared at her with his penetrating stormy silver-grey eyes, a strange emotion seeming to flash through them for a bare second, before hardening, and closing up again.

"What?" he asked, without a trace of emotion in his voice.

Hermione's hand froze as it slipped lifelessly off of his shoulder. "I—I…"

But she couldn't think of a single thing to say.

"Well, if you're done wasting my time, Granger," Draco saidturning his back and walking away from her.

She watched staring blankly as his figure retreated down the hall, striding away….

Away from her.

xXx

He didn't remember.

They had never been.

Hermione cried.

Never had she felt such anguish. How could something that was right there…right before her be out of reach? He was right there…

With a single look, a smile, a kiss, he could cure her—but he wouldn't.

It was incomprehensible. How could she ever miss something that she had never had in the first place? How could she feel such despair over nothing?

Why couldn't they just pretend…why couldn't he smile at her as he used to…why couldn't he kiss her…so tenderly as he did before?

Before—

There was no before.

Silent tears flowed down her cheeks and quick, short breaths fell from her lips. "Why? It's just not…Why?" she cried softly into the darkness of the empty classroom.

It just wasn't fair.

He was right there. He was supposed to be hers. She was supposed to be his.

But he wasn't—she wasn't. They weren't—and never were.

How could she live the rest of her life knowing that she had something….something so incredible once, and it was right there—but at the same time it wasn't.

She had lost it.

It was gone….forever.

She hated him for not remembering, for ignoring her, for doing all he had done to her without even knowing it.

She hated how he had built her up, just to have her break.

She hated how she could love something that never existed.

Hermione regretted not going to see him while he was still in the hospital.

She regretted every day she had walked past him without saying a single word.

She regretted every day she had passed by without telling him how she felt.

Never had she made so many mistakes in her life.

Never had she regretted something so much.

But it had all been a dream.

The greatest love that Hermione Granger would ever know…

Had all been a dream.

Somnio Eternus

And that's it.

Song by Taking Back Sunday - …Slowdance on the Inside

Hope you all enjoyed this as much as I did. Thanks to everyone who stuck with this story! ….

Aiur- (I think everyone should know her cuz she ROCKS. Thanks crazy much for helping me beta and giving me confidence. Luv u crazy much, have fun in Quebec, miss you loads)

Eternal MoonPeach Goddess(Thanks crazy much to you again for being my number one and sticking with me!) Mystic Snow, TNLSG, PandaGirl, SevenMoves, Bmxridergurl(You and your awesome intuition for my symbols and whatnot, really appreciated it!) kimerchi, cranberry-ice88, Undying at Midsummer, goldilox8265, MedievalRynn, sumonesmart, Emma. W, rockrockrock, Atlantean Goddess, Faloola Flanniganigar, Slytherin in Mind, dracolover81, curlyqntx, candihearts, Turqoise Angel, Tinker-Belle18, wingless87, LilTigerCub, PurpleYin, x TaylorMichelle, Applola Snipp, mustangchic, periwinklemagic, AtLossforWords, Delirious Dreams, Kail Ceannai, Sunny June, Christine, angel, bluefiredragon4131, Mrs.Q, eman, PurpleYin, Pho3niX, Courtney, Sabine Strohem-Moss, foxeran, RedCinders, Infinate, zimagesto, Venus725, sarah, Kelly, zeldarose, portmanroxsmysoxs, Lauren, lairy fights, Gryffindors-Light, dracolover81, Xtreme Nuisance, Monkeystarz, KaylaG, Dreaming One, Piper1019, Crystallized Snow, gokusgirl, Alenor, Aeriel Ravenna, Select Another, intertwined, Swtndreamypnay, Stella, mizPERFECTIONist, shedraconis, Miss Court-A-Doo, stardusts, Jessica Halliwell Potter, Anne-Evans89, rayon m de lune, pussycat06, LosOjosDeLaVida, SpicySugar, allycat, I-luv-Harry-Potter-Romance, DreamDeferred, rina, anno, SugarQuillCandy, Zandra Phillips, Black Mist, stars around the moon, Mikella, pussycat06, CherryBlossomAngel-225, blah, Mikkie, dan4me, koishii-glory, Shoe Malfoy, Wind in the Willow, Pranks Are So Siriusly Padfoot, LightningExperience, Slytherin in Mind, Anigen, Faery of the Night, Serenity, Kai Elaboration, cm-88, harry-potter-fan145, Obsessed with Draco, londonmalfoy, Katie, citcat299, insanemaniac, Kara Black, sweetpotato, Highlandcoo, Lynn-50670, DemonSorceress, palindrom, stargazer starluver, coconutice, scrummyyumboes, Dilaw, HYPERdingdong39, hehe, Tenshisangel, SuperHiperChit, steffi-weffi16, Kayti, Tayz (Can't go by without thanking you eh? Thanks loads for your support. Never give up! There's a good dhr fic in you somewhere!), chicklepea, Jessica Halliwell Potter, Miss C, twitchy-tennisplayer, baie-baie, Prongsie-Jamesie, SilverMoonset, kiss-of-cuteness, QuillSwift, Draco's all mine, Pluto, Draco Improbus, Soapz, Draco Improbus, xax, Applola Snipp, wrc g-rp, scrummy yumboes, muzicchick13, aj, jesska-14, trish, Kaylee-Angel (Still gunna take you up on the visiting Britain offer! Lol), Cynthia Dysis, Blackrosebunny, Lady-Seoh-Phoenix, lightbulb-89, CocoaFlavourPunk, The Tickle Monster, Rje, Christine (Big thanks to you for recommending Fallout Boy!), greenheart, Ilwyn, annabanana, Lady of the Realm, Flavagurl, Creative-Imagination505, Updatedgirl, trapped-in-a-dream, ShimmeringEvil, UrS0D00rk3y, do you get it, BrghtSideOLife92, Gizelle, aquamariel, AngelicWerewolf, powder, Bella, Kerrie-chan, professional toilet flusher, winneratheart, D/HR SHiPPER, FlairVerona, BabeinBlue, curlyqntx, Parka Noel, crazzymonkey, lil mizz filipinz, Norie, Karana Belle, Someone, ccbchunks, CuTeNcRaZy, ApatheticSoul, Ayantara, Vetilakriz, mai, Chamomile Lady, Muznakh, iHARTu, xSnickersx, Tacky Socks, cooli, lilazn-american, alwaysremember, Hilary, sweet euthanasia, Meg, LeMoN LiCkEr 69, Sirley, Setsuna Bu, Flor De La Cereza, Bruinen, Lisi, hersheys, LiLbLueangeL1223, blackeyes, KatiePhantom, Shy-Lil-Dreamer, heart 0f glass x, LilacBlu, elektrikstorm, Oooo, Mikki, D-daygirl, AttackingHentaiChibisLoveFluff, crazy azn angel, gcho, EosRaven, Onawhim, FiReFaIrY14, mizzyfreak7, Tigger 393, rachelle, Deadly Words, tuxedo cat, charretier, CherryBlossomAngel-225, sexy-jess, tomfeltonlover1400, czarina, SpottyHotty22

(My arm hurts now…) Sorry to anyone I missed, thanks crazy much to you all, couldn't have done it without you! Note to find yourself, use ctrl F

Now, head on over and check out Fallen From Grace. Hope you all like that one too.