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", "Never", and "Sever". Fourth (and last) in the Hermione/Barty Jr. series.
By Dagniro Vanaliel
The graveyard is where it ends.
From her position standing behind and to the left a bit, Hermione can hear Harry mutter something about why is it always a graveyard? Ron, standing next to her, shoots her a glance. He's finally caught on and realised that Hermione has been pretending she likes him.
Not that she actually does. It's all part of her act, her plan to hide her true heart from the world. She knows that if anyone finds out about the man she loves more than anything, she'll find herself on trial for treason. Maybe it doesn't mean as much as it used to, what with the dementors having left Azkaban, but she'd rather not be labelled a traitor.
Especially not now that she's been acting Harry Potter's best friend for almost eight years.
Hermione can almost hear the ominous music. Brass mostly, she thinks, with a low drum in the background echoing her pounding heart. She hums a bit to herself, a line from some movie soundtrack. She doesn't remember which one, but the tune fits the mood.
Lord Voldemort stands in front of Harry. Both have their wands out, but don't use them. It's completely silent except for the wind rustling the leaves in the surrounding trees. Death Eaters stand in a circle around them. They're trapped.
At a silent signal from Voldemort, two Death Eaters step out of the circle and grab Hermione and Ron. The man holds her tightly, forcing her to drop her wand, and she hears a familiar voice whisper in her ear:
All she wants to do is melt into the arms of the one she loves, but she can't give them away. Instead, she flails around, pretending to try and free herself. She doesn't scream. She kicks and attempts to hit him, but she does not scream. There's no point; it isn't like there's anyone around to hear her. Besides, Ron's loud enough for the both of them.
One of the other Death Eaters raises his wand and hits Ron with a Silencing Spell. He mutters about how annoying his yelling was; Hermione forces herself not to laugh.
Voldemort paces in front of Harry, gesturing dramatically. He speaks in a quiet, subdued, dangerous voice that, she thinks, should be pretty terrifying. Harry doesn't even look that dazed, but she supposes they've faced enough times.
As for herself, she's not scared. Her love's arm is wrapped protectively around her, and she feels his gentle breath in her hair. She's stopped struggling, choosing instead to stand still and listen to Harry and Voldemort's exchange.
The duel begins.
Barty watches in astonishment as the most powerful wizard in the world and a seventeen-year-old kid battle each other. He would've thought Voldemort would be able to polish the boy off easily, but apparently they're pretty equally matched.
They shout spells at each other, their voices intermingling so that Barty can't make out which ones they're using or who's yelling what. Jets of light shoot out of their wands, some ricocheting and nearly hitting the Death Eaters. Barty ducks out of the way of a particularly nasty-looking red bolt, pulling Hermione with him. She turns over, and their eyes meet.
The scene freezes. Silence surrounds the both of them, the jets of light pause in midair. All that exists is Barty and Hermione as they gaze into each other's eyes.
He brushes the side of her face with the back of his hand, smiling lovingly at her. She returns it, attempting to grin through the pain obvious in her eyes.
It hurts him to see her like this. She's been living a lie for the past three and a half years. He's pushed her away for so long, desperate to keep her safe even though it's killing her inside. He can't do that any more.
But he won't make the choice now. Whatever the outcome of this duel, this final showdown between Potter and Voldemort, it will decide their fates.
Barty helps Hermione stand up again, and they go back to watching the two fight. Voldemort hasn't sent any Unforgivables at Harry, and he supposes the Dark Lord enjoys watching the kid dance.
She winces and ducks at the final screams. Though she finds it hard to believe such power and hatred could come from the lips of someone she thought to be on the good side, there's no mistaking Harry's voice. Barty hears it too and moves to shield her should it go wrong. The words ring in her ears:
Green jets blast out of both their wands and strike each other in midair. She gasps as beams of light shoot out in all directions.
But not towards the circling Death Eaters. Not towards Hermione and Barty, though he still puts himself between her and the battle.
Even as this happens, even as her mind screams with fright, she feels her heart soar. He still loves her! He loves her enough to put himself between her and the Avada Kedavra curse, even enough to die for her...
He only left her because he wanted her safe. And he still does. He's still protecting her.
The strands of green light surround Harry and Voldemort, enclosing them in a dazzling cage. Hermione remembers what Harry told her about their duel three years ago--the way their wands reacted. She realises that's what must be happening, though the two Avada Kedavras seem to intensify the effect. A ball of light gathers in the centre of the connections and then bursts outward, striking both opponents.
There's a blinding flash of green light. She shuts her eyes and turns her head away, Barty throws his whole body over her as a shield, she hears a roaring in her ears...
And then, nothing.
With great effort, Hermione manages to pry open her eyes. Barty still lies on top of her. He doesn't move.
She lifts him off of her and shakes him gently.
Come on... wake up... please, wake up... Nothing. She shakes him harder and her voice grows louder and more hysterical.
Barty, wake up... Please... Barty, please... She sobs. I love you!
Then, miraculously, a grin crosses his face.
I'm here. She's still crying, tears of joy that her beloved's going to be all right.
Is it over? He gasps for breath. She nods, laughing a bit, and helps him up.
They're dead. Harry and Voldemort destroyed each other. She smiles. It's over.
And even though they're surrounded by Death Eaters, even though everyone's watching, Barty can't help but pull her into his arms and kiss her lightly on the lips.
I love you.
Hermione can't stop grinning. Harry was supposed to be her best friend. She still, even now, is sorry he's gone. But she can't mourn him. Their friendship became a lie the moment she found Barty and her heart overruled her head.
And right now her heart points to Barty. Without him, she's incomplete.
I know. It's the only thing she can think of to say. I know. And I love you.
Then it's really over? Hermione shakes her head.
No, love. It's just begun.
She knows that, after everything, now they have forever.