A/N: I want to thank all the people who took the time to review. I know this chapter is short but it is needed to pull the plot along. This is only the beginning of what happened to Draco…we will be meeting him in the near future. Let me know what you think….
Severus was pacing in his quarters. She kissed him! Even though it wasn't romantic per se, he definitely felt some kind of chemistry between the two of them. He had been so busy trying to push her away that he missed something as grand as this…could Hermione possibly feel something for him? No, no the girl didn't know what she was thinking. She was distraught and he was only trying to help her deal with her loss and he guilt. He hadn't intended to make her care for him.
Severus thought back on all of the things that made Hermione into the person she had become in the months following the battle. Severus thought back on the moment that he was sure had broken her; it was the moment when she had to destroy Draco in order to save him. Months before the final battle, Draco had come to Severus looking for way to stay away from Voldemort's insanity. Severus brought him to the Headmaster and Draco began to spy along side Severus for the Light. In the end his own personal issues overcame him and now he was nothing more than the shell of the young man he was.
Severus never answered Voldemort's call; instead he escorted the Golden Trio in their quest to face Voldemort. As the four marched toward their target they came across a most disturbing scene. Draco was standing over the shaking body of his father casting the Cruciatus, imploring him to beg for mercy. Hermione made her way towards the pair while the others stayed back at her request.
"Well now, Lucius, how does it feel now that the shoe is on the other foot?" Draco did not lower his wand or falter in the administration of the curse. As they approached, Severus could feel the hate pulsing from Draco in waves. Draco lowered his wand and laughed as his father continued to writhe on the ground, he raised his wand again, "Avad…" Before Draco could finish the incantation that would end his father's life, Hermione had his wand in her hand. She ran up to him placing a hand on her shoulder, trying to calm him.
"Draco!" she called, "This is not the way you should handle your father."
"And why not? He has ruined my life and I want to take his to make my life whole again."
"Killing him will not make your life whole, it will ruin you and eat you alive. You are not like him Draco. This is something he would do…"
"Ah, so the Mudblood is right Draco." Lucius raised his wand to Draco, but Hermione was quicker, "AVADA KEDAVRA" and Lucius Malfoy fell dead to the ground. Draco fell to his knees and began to sob. Then without warning, Draco lunged at her. Draco wanted to kill her for killing his father, for robbing him of his right. Hermione did the first thing that came to mind, she pushed herself to her feet pointed her wand at Draco and yelled, "Crucio!" Draco fell to the floor writing beneath the power of her spell. Everyone in the party was too shocked to do anything but look on at the scene before them. Before anyone had the presence of mind to call Hermione's wand into his hand Draco had been under the curse for near ten minutes. And from what Severus could tell it was very strong.
Hermione raised her wand to Draco, "Obliviate!" Hermione had only meant to save him from the final torment of his father. However, she underestimated her own power and Draco was left with no sense of who he was…she stunned him to keep him from hurting himself and prayed none of the Death Eaters would find him before they could return to collect him. Hermione ran towards Voldemort while looking back towards Draco; never once in those final moments of battle did she forget Draco; guilt beginning to over take her, as she truly understood the ramifications of what she had done.
Severus watched Hermione as she transferred her love to Potter; looking in her heart to bring about the strength of his own, so he could win the battle. Severus watched as she fell to her knees while she was being drained of every happy emotion she had ever had. He kept his wand raised and ready to protect the three of them and wished he could contribute something to the group; but try as he might the only memories that filled his heart were dark and beyond the normal boundaries of sad. Severus contented himself playing bodyguard and watched as the golden light of love enveloped Voldemort instantly turning him to ash. Then he ran forward, arms extended, just in time to catch Hermione before her head pummeled into the hard ground. Potter and Weasley were still standing, trembling, but conscious and standing.
"Weasley! Take Malfoy to Hogwarts." He barked, then, turned towards Harry, "Potter! Help me get her back to Hogwarts. She is breathing, but I…"
Harry lost all composure at that point and fell to the ground, tears spilling on his friend's unconscious form, while the weight of the world slowly lifted from his shoulders only to be replaced with the guilt of Hermione's state. Severus watched the scene before him, a new appreciation for all Harry had endured growing somewhere deep inside him, it didn't mean he still couldn't have cared less if the little brat didn't vanish from the face of the earth tomorrow, but still he could appreciate his plight. Severus also had an epiphany of sorts at that moment, he realized that had he fallen, no one would cry over him, no one would burden themselves with guilt over his predicament. With that realization came the understanding that he could not allow himself to be close to Hermione. He had nothing to offer her. He was an empty man with a past void of anything worthy of her and to him the past could only ensure that his future would be as empty as everything else in his life. Severus stood up, gently placing Hermione's head on the ground and stood up, fixing his gaze on Potter, "Get her to Hogwarts!" With that he stalked off into the darkness that was so familiar to him only emerging when Albus demanded.
Severus was not there when Hermione woke up, but he knew what kind of torment the girl, no woman, had to endure. He thought about her often since that night, but until that moment in the Great Hall he could not bring himself to go near her. He couldn't understand why, however. The two had built up a working relationship in the weeks before the final battle as they brewed the massive amounts of medicinal potions that would undoubtedly be needed in the after math of the battle. Then in the final week before the battle they had grown close, sharing the loss of her parents. He answered all of her questions and discussed anything she wished all in the name of keeping her sane. All the while he was doing this he kept telling himself he was only keeping a weapon ready for battle never admitting to himself he felt something else for the girl.
Now he sat in front of his fire, the warmth of Hermione's kiss still upon his brow. The kiss, however delicate its administration had been, however small the gesture may have seemed to her, had warmed his entire body. She had shown him something no one else had ever taken the time to show him before; he was worth something. One kiss on the forehead and it became clear to him for the first time that his future did not at all seem like his sordid past. There was a glimmer of hope that his future would be happy; the glimmer was Hermione.
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