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Chapter Eighteen:

Her vision was blurred, possibly from the tears. Was she dead? She felt warm.

"Hermione! Oi! What are you doing? Have you gone mad? I'm sorry! Wha -? Get up!" She shot upwards from her rested position, her head spinning as her eyes tried to adjust. Helplessly she gazed about the hazy atmosphere, and a figure that loomed overhead, gently pressing her shoulders back onto the soft object in which she laid. "Calm down would you?" the person said with some amusement. "It's only a question."

She was oddly comforted at the familiar tone. "Ron?" her voice cracked as a fresh wave of emotion hit her. "RON!" Hermione leapt to her feet and embraced him, kissing his cheeks with all the energy she could muster. Ron held her with just as much enthusiasm, his ears a bright scarlet and his heart beating fast against hers.

"I–I'm guessing it's a yes." Ron said breathlessly.

Hermione blinked. "What's a yes?" she asked remarkably, her voice sounded in awe.

"You will marry me, right?" he held up the small black box that was still clenched in his hand, giving her a hopeful smile.

She froze, her blood ran cold. "What?"

Ron looked at her oddly, gesturing again to the velvet box. "You. Me. Marry?"

Hermione gulped, her mouth felt incredibly dry. "I – what? I..."

She realised her surroundings. The setting of the Burrow, as it was, unchanged by time and the familiar, friendly smell of baked goods of Mrs. Weasley's home cooking. There was a banner, 'Congratulations Harry, Ron and Hermione!' draped across the stairs, she was wearing her graduation robe. Her breath came in stunned pants.

"Whoa!" Ron exclaimed, placing an arm around her. "Don't faint on me again."

"D-D-D-Death Eaters!" she stuttered, clenching her hand to her breast as she struggled to regain her breath. Ron held onto her anxiously. "They're surrounding us! Hurry, we need to put up some kind of defence force! I'm not joking so don't look at me like that, this is serious! There coming! Quick, grab your wand!"

He was about to question her, but the house shuddered slightly and he looked at her again with an attentive gaze before running into the kitchen, Hermione followed swiftly by his heels. Every gaze in the room drifted to them, examining their expressions. "Death Eaters!" Ron cried, the guests and family went quiet, most had celebratory Fire Whiskey in their glasses.

"What?" someone in the crowd exclaimed, sounding like Tonks.

"No time to explain!" Hermione said in a voice stronger than she felt. "Prepare for about two dozen Death Eaters flying in towards us from the east, their main goal is to capture not kill, but be on your guard no matter what!" she was silent a moment. "I missed you guys…" she muttered, pulling her wand from her robe and exiting into the yard, leaving those who heard her baffled.


She didn't know what to think as she waited, except that it was just like before.

She felt the breeze of his breath on her neck, the glare of his grey eyes. Smashes and screams were heard coming from the home not even a yard away - the cries of her second family. "I can offer you and your friend's protection," Malfoy sneered. "Marry me, Granger, and your safe," he looked over his shoulder towards the house. "And so are they." A sickening feeling overwhelmed her, this was it. This was why she saw what happened, this is why she felt what she felt; all the pain, the suffering and sadness, it was all caused by answering this one question. This one question had altered everything. This one question.

If she hadn't married Malfoy, she would have never joined the Death Eaters. If she never joined the Death Eaters, she would have never given them information on Harry. If she never gave them information, the Order would have won the war. Everyone would be themselves. Happy. Everything would be normal. This one question.

"You know what?" Hermione said shortly. "I don't think so."

The winds changed, a gush came flying towards them, blowing her hair about her face. She could feel it; she could feel the change, the brightness and energy flowing to her fingertips. Malfoy blinked, she knew he felt it too, the sudden weight released from her shoulders, the sudden glow lying in her path. "What?" he demanded angrily. "I'm offering you a choice – to live or die!"

"I've made my choice," she stated clearly. "I'm not going anywhere." She turned her back; not to the Burrow, she turned her back to him.

"You're making a mistake, Granger!" Malfoy called after her departing figure, he seemed to stutter.

"No," she whispered to herself. "Not this time."

This is not the end, folks! We still have one more chapter to go, so please stay tuned! If your confused message me, I'll be sure to talk you through it.

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