Saying Goodbye

The train pulled up behind us, belching steam. I turned from watching it stop and looked at my best friend, standing there and looking about as lost as I felt. His warm brown eyes looked into mine and he gave a weak smile. "Guess this is it," he said, and swallowed, hard, lifting a hand to push his flaming red hair out of his face.

"Yeah," I echoed, "guess it is." I glanced behind me at the train and then back to Ron and I smiled a little through the tears welling in my eyes. I could tell by the flashes of pain in his face that he was remembering, too. I thought back to fighting the Death Eaters with him, barely a month ago, and then again a year ago, and a year before that. How brave he'd been when, descending into the Department of Mysteries, he'd looked over at me and we'd exchanged that grim, strong look, knowing what we were getting into. How we'd both then glanced at Harry, paler than usual and trembling with rage and fear. The look said that we were doing this for him.

Only a year before we'd almost lost him, our Harry, to Voldemort when he'd risen again. Harry was so strong, but felt so much. Thinking of him was painful. Those memories were flooded out by the seas of the ones of Ron, too. In first year, when they'd saved me from that wretched troll; in second year, when I'd been petrified, and they'd figured out how to save the school; in third year, when Harry found his Godfather, when Ron and me's friendship was almost destroyed because my cat supposedly killed Scabbers…well, not Scabbers, the blood traitor whose life was the reason that Harry's parents, and now Godfather, were dead.

So I smiled at him through my tears and he pulled me into his strong embrace. I buried my face in his shoulder, biting my lip to keep the sobs inside. I had to leave. There was no other way. I had to leave. Harry and Voldemort were both dead, and Ron and I had not left one another's sides since that fatal day, but we needed to learn to live without one another again, for a while at least. We'd become so dependent that it would kill us one day if we didn't stop it.

The second war was over, but that didn't mean that there weren't battles left to fight.

After a long moment, he released me, and wiped away the single tear that ran over my cheek. "I'll write," he promised. "You'd better, too, you hear?"

I smiled. "Of course. 'Bye, Ron."

He squeezed my hand once, and let it go. "'Bye, Hermione."

Our eyes met one last time, in which the same glance was exchanged as the one we'd shared when descending into the Department of Mysteries all those years ago. Be strong…for Harry.

Then I stepped onto the train, and he was gone.

Deep in the darkness of a self-afflicted night, Draco Malfoy was leaving his life behind, too, but there was no one there to see him off. There was a bitter smile on his face when he stepped aboard the train, not the same smirk that had been so carefully in place since he'd been born.

Well, I've done my part in this godforsaken war, haven't I? he told himself as he gripped the handle of his bag. I'm done.