Disclaimer: I don't own the Harry Potter universe, and I'm not making any money off of this.
Author's Note: Sequel to "Together". Second in the Hermione/Barty Jr. series.
Jets of coloured light cross the air, purple and red and blue and green.
The battle has begun. The battle that will end everything and begin everything else. Hermione ducks behind a bit of rubble, wand clutched in her hand. She doesn't like hiding, but she's not sure what else to do.
It's been a year since he left her. The hardest year of her life, trying to pretend she was still Harry's friend and Ron's reluctant love-interest and a willing member of Dumbledore's Army. Trying to pretend she was preparing to fight against Voldemort, when in reality...
In reality, she'd give it all up in an instant. Harry and Ron are not that bright, and she doesn't have much future on the side that's getting pummeled. She knows there's not much future with the one she loves, either, but anything would be better than this. Anything would be better than making sure her two (ex) best friends don't fail all their classes, or don't end up dead, or any one of a number of other things. She's become like their mother.
A mother who would betray them in a heartbeat.
It's that, more than the battle raging only feet from where she now hides, that terrifies her. Has she changed so much? Two years ago, she remembers, she was innocent little good-girl Hermione.
And then she met him. Barty Crouch Jr. Death Eater, Muggle-hater, who wanted Harry Potter dead. He was devoted to Voldemort, his master. He'd broken out of Azkaban. Masqueraded as a Hogwarts teacher. Nearly been given the Dementor's Kiss, if Hermione hadn't saved him.
She loved him, and still does. She thinks he loved her too. Even though he left her, she understood his reasons. He wanted her safe. He knew the reality of their situation--a Muggle-born girl could have no place by his side.
It doesn't stop her hoping.
Barty looks around desperately. He'd ordered the other Death Eaters not to hurt the girl with the brown hair, and while he does not doubt their obedience, he worries she might have been hit by accident.
Dodging a stray jinx, he rolls off to the side and crawls through a doorway, urgently whispering her name.
This is stupid, this is reckless, and he isn't thinking clearly. This girl is Muggle-born. Mudblood filth.
He loves her anyway.
A year and a half ago, he remembers, she caught him when the Polyjuice Potion wore off. He'd been neglecting it; a stupid move, but one that brought him happiness.
Hermione did not run. She did not scream. She simply asked him who he was. He told her, told her his story, about joining the Death Eaters and being sentenced to Azkaban by his own father; about his mother rescuing him, and being imprisoned again by his father. He'd been controlled with his father's Imperius curse, forced to wear an Invisibility Cloak day and night.
But he'd broken free, and rejoined Voldemort, his master, and now came to Hogwarts.
The girl pitied him. She cried a little when he told her his story, and when she promised to keep his secret, he believed her. He did not kill her, or hurt her, or put her under any sort of control. He did not modify her memory.
And she came back. She came back, and talked to him, and they soon found they were in love. Hermione agreed to help him, using her influence as Harry Potter's best friend.
He loves her for everything. For her intelligence, her wit, even her cynacism. But most of all he loves her because she loves him.
He has to be here. If he's not here...
No. Hermione knows she's being stupid. Of course he's here; he's Voldemort's most loyal follower, and was even before he became her love. He's here.
She hears her name, and smiles to herself. She knows that voice. Risking a peek over the pile she hides behind, Hermione sees him. He looks around wildly, softly calling her name.
I'm here, she tries to call, but can't. He sees her anyway, a grin crossing his dark, handsome features, and drags himself over. A cold hand touches her face, sunken eyes peer into hers, and she knows he'll be with her now.
Harry Potter's shout echoes through the building, a cry of pain and loss. It's enough to distract them for one crucial moment. Hermione finds herself being dragged away.
Her own shouts mirror Harry's as she fights to get back to Barty. One of the Order presses his wand to Barty's face. Hermione points her own wand at his back and Stuns him, just as she Stunned McGonagall one year ago.
Barty shoots her an apologetic look, smiles, and runs.
Hermione opens her eyes. She's safe, she thinks, back in Hogwarts. Sirius Black is dead. Ron Weasley is in a bed next to her. She's surrounded by people she thought were her friends.
Barty is nowhere in sight.
She hates the Order of the Phoenix, and she hates Dumbledore's Army. She knows it's irrational, but a year and a half ago she fell in love against her better judgment, and since then she thinks it's been one mistake after another.
Except for one. She still loves Barty Crouch. And she'll get back to him. She'll find a way.
Fate keeps ripping them apart, but Hermione knows that as long as she loves him, and he loves her, they'll find a way to find each other again.