Destin Verrouillé

Hermione felt the metal of the lift cold behind her back even through her robes. Her eyes were clouded slightly with wetness, but she had yet to allow a single drop to be freed. Harry was directly across from her but didn't look her way. His eyes were focused on his shoes.

The descent seemed to last forever, as the clanking of the lift had become embedded in Hermione's memory. So much that when the lift finally stopped the quiet seemed to scream at her. The announcement was gone, but they knew very well where they were. The Department of Mysteries.

They were at the door in moments, and Harry turned to remind her, "Don't close the door." Hermione thought, in her nervousness, she may have indeed forgotten.

The blue glow of the room cast upon Harry's face, making him look for a second much more like the boy she had come to love rather than the man he had been forced to become in the two years since they had entered this room before. But it was silly to even think that. Harry had always been forced into this life. His destiny hadn't started when they arrived in the room of prophecies. It hadn't started when Voldemort had regained power. No, Harry's fate had been locked in place long before that.

It had taken Hermione a long time to accept that. She didn't want to believe everything had all fallen into place, that as humans they were helpless against what had been decided for them. And she especially hadn't wanted to accept that her best friend was helpless against his fate. No, Hermione still wouldn't accept that. Never.

They quickly went about pushing open the doors, waiting with baited breath for the one that wouldn't open. Rooms half abandoned were displayed in front of Hermione's eyes. The Ministry had been driven away four months ago. Perhaps, if they had listened to Harry's warning so long ago, they would have been safe. But then again, Hermione thought sadly, perhaps not.

Hermione pushed all her weight into the next door before crying out.

"Harry, I found it!" She tried to steady herself against the door, her breathing extremely unsteady.

There was no answer. Hermione whipped her head around, wand at the ready, fearing the worst. Harry stood in a doorway, still as stone.

"H-Harry?" Hermione tried.

Harry moved, but not to look at her. He moved forward into the room. It was then that Hermione realized which door he had opened. She rushed to his side, grabbing his arm to pull him back.

"Harry, you can't." Hermione said, fearfully. "It's not right, you know that."

Harry pulled away from her and started to walk down toward the stone dais upon which the veiled archway was still standing, unnerved by all that had occurred inside the Ministry. Harry was still as drawn to it as he was during their last visit for reasons Hermione could not possibly fathom. The eerie black veil fluttered, and Hermione latched onto Harry again.

"Harry, it's not real. Just come back with me, don't do this again," she pleaded. "We don't have time!"

Harry stopped, but he did not turn back. "I don't understand, Hermione. I feel like… someone's calling to me. That I need to go in after them. After…"

"Sirius…" Hermione said, her eyes filling with tears once again. "Sirius is dead, Harry."

Harry lurched forward, but Hermione was ready. She quickly pushed him back out the door, slamming it behind her. Harry landed on the marble floor looking shocked that Hermione had pushed him so forcefully. Or at least that what she thought until the doors all around them shut and the room started spinning.

"I'm so sorry, Harry," Hermione whispered, putting her head in her hands. "I wasn't thinking."

Harry got up quickly to comfort her. "It's okay, Hermione," he said sincerely, taking her hands. "I wasn't either."

The oddness of the situation made Hermione laugh despite herself. It was a humour-less laugh, but it forced her tears back into herself. Safe, where they needed to be.

Hermione tried all of the doors once again, while Harry sat in the center of the room staring at the black marble. She knew almost instantly when she had rediscovered the door.

"Harry…" she breathed.

He was immediately at her side with his wand raised.

"Ron knew we'd have to get through this door," Harry said, stealing Hermione's humour-less laugh.

"He'll be fine," Hermione insisted. And she wished she could believe it herself…

"What now?" Harry asked, ignoring her.

"I-I don't…"

"Hermione, you said you had a theory," Harry snapped.

"I-I know, but…" Hermione stumbled over her words.

"What is it then?" Harry shouted.

"Harry, don't you realize what this door is?" Hermione screamed, tears venturing into the deathly outside.

Harry only stared at her.

"It-it's the love door, Harry…"

"Wh-what?"

"…love, Harry." Hermione said, trying desperately to stable herself. "That's what they are studying here, the mysteries not even pure magic can solve."

"Time, death, life, knowledge… don't you see it, Harry?" she continued.

"But… what does that mean?" Harry said, scrambling for the right words. "How is that supposed to help us?"

"Isn't that what Dumbledore always said? That love was the way you could surpass Voldemort?"

Harry's eyes widened and he turned back to the door. "Is this what he meant?"

"I don't know, Harry." Hermione said, quickly. "You'll have to find that out yourself."

"What do you mean?" Harry said, turning back to her swiftly, "Aren't you coming with me? And-and how do we even open it?"

"All these years… Ron and I have always been there to help you, Harry," she said, quietly. "But in the end it's you that must go on to defeat Voldemort. We both know that."

"Yes, but… I need you."

Hermione felt her heart stop as the words echoed in her head along with a memory from long ago. Without even thinking, she flung her arms around him.

"Hermione!"

"Books and cleverness," she mumbled against his shoulder, feeling something stirring around them. "There are more important things…"

Hermione pulled back only for a second to take his hand.

"And please be careful!"

She kissed him fervently, and pressed his hand against the door. As the door gave way, Hermione thought it might not have been needed. Not… needed.

Hermione pulled away and ran for the exit. She wasn't sure if she heard Harry calling for her or if it was just the memories swimming in her clouded head. Hermione knew what was on the other side of that door; he would want to be alone.

She threw herself into the lift, and finally let herself sob thinking of Harry meeting his parents for the first time since the night his destiny had been locked forever.

A/N: A very late present for my lovely beta, Fledgling. Special thanks to Ally for looking it over.