a/n: chapter 5 of 5. I really enjoyed writing this fic, so I'm kinda sad it's over. Maybe there's enough angst in me for another one like this...
Disclaimer: Still don't own Harry Potter.
Six Years Later...
Hermione was wrong when she had thought the last place she'd ever want to be was standing in Harry's doorway after catching her best friend and his supposed arch nemesis in the throws of passion. She'd stand there awkwardly for an eternity if it would bring Harry back.
"Stupid, stupid!" she whispered fiercely as she kicked dirt onto the small stone that marked Harry's grave. Someone thoughtful had suggested that Harry be buried next to Dumbledore. (Hermione had only later discovered it had been Ron who'd made the suggestion, and loved him all the more for it.) 'A hero sleeps here' was flamboyantly engraved in the stone, as was Harry's name, birth date, and death date. It was simple, yet far too extravagant at the same time. Harry wouldn't have approved of the way the term 'hero' was used so loosely.
Tears slipped silently down Hermione's cheeks. How could Harry have thought he wasn't needed anymore? How could she have let him slip through the cracks? Didn't he know how much he meant to her?
She looked down at the letter in her hands, the only piece of him she had left, and read the words for what felt like the millionth time.
I'm no longer needed. Voldemort's been defeated, the dead stay dead, and you have Ron to protect you now. (Though I don't think he'll be of much use if spiders ever attack you.) I've done all I could to hold on because you wanted me to, but it wasn't enough. You will never know how many times you've saved me. But sometimes I felt as though you were only going through the motions because you felt like you had to, which was just me being paranoid, I know, but when so many people tell you they love you and then leave you, what is there to believe?
Whether you think so or not, being with Malfoy helped me deal with everything. He taught me how to clear my mind, and in the past few years, the only times I've been happy were times I was with him. But don't confuse happiness with love. I never loved Malfoy like I love you. He was a distraction, but not even he could keep me sane forever. Please, please, I know you're angry, but don't take it out on him. Remember, I made the final decision. I know I'm a coward for taking the easy way out. Please, don't let them call me a hero.
It would be selfish of me to ask for your forgiveness, so I won't, but just know that this wasn't your fault and you did the best you could in the short time we had together.
I hope you can still remember me when I was your friend.
With all my love,
P.S. Do you still love me?'
"Of course I still love you..."
Ron thought she had been talking to him. His eyes welled up with tears, but he sniffed them back quickly, not wanting to upset Hermione any further. He bent down to give her one final kiss, to which she responded passionately. She would have clung to him had her arms not been tied down to the chair she sat in with thick, leather straps. Lucius Malfoy sneered at the scene from the other side of the cell bars, his arm around the grieving Narcissa Malfoy in a manner that would be comforting were he actually hugging her frail body to his own.
Hermione felt bad for Narcissa. She had truly loved Draco. Watching the beautiful woman daub at her eyes with a handkerchief and glare at her with bitterness and hatred almost made Hermione feel a tad remorseful. But Hermione felt nothing but a cold loathing for Lucius, the man who had taught his only son to be so callow and thoughtless. Hermione didn't care what Harry had said in the note; She blamed Malfoy because she couldn't bring herself to blame Harry.
"All right, all right," an authoritative voice commanded. A tall wizard in maroon robes stepped into Hermione's view and took Ron gently by the arm, trying to guide him out the cell door. "Let's get on with this."
Ron fought his pull halfheartedly, leaning down once more to kiss Hermione's forehead and brush a strand of lank hair from her face. "I love you," he whispered as he gave up and let the other man usher him away. Hermione could hear his cries of anguish, and longed to comfort him, but resigned herself to the fact that Harry were gone and she soon would be too. She'd never once thought about the repercussions of leaving Ron all alone...
Oh well, it was too late now. Hermione could feel coldness spreading through her limbs and Ron's voice screaming "No!" as he sobbed, not caring who was watching. She felt the pull of something above her and willed her eyes to stay shut. She wanted the last thing she saw to be Ron, not a Dementor as it leaned over her and forced it's kiss upon her. But Ron was disappearing. She couldn't even remember what he looked like. What colour were his eyes? Did his face light up when he smiled? How did his hand feel held in hers?
"You killed him!" Hermione yelled, her tears making her voice sound watery and weak. The hand that held her wand pointed at Malfoy's chest shook uncontrollably.
The Slytherin held his hands up in surrender, but his face held no emotion, just calmness in his gray eyes that made Hermione even angrier because he didn't seem to care. "You have to believe me, I had no idea he would go and do something like this. I thought he was fine with the way things were."
"Fine?" Hermione shrieked. "You didn't know Harry at all. You just used him to get what you wanted and then tossed him out when you were done. You had no idea how sick he was, how sick you made him." Malfoy was silent. Hermione shook her head. "Harry was right when he said that you were a monster." He looked affronted, but still kept his mouth shut. "My only regret is not killing you sooner when it might have saved him.
Hermione laughed hysterically. All she could remember was pain. Had she ever been happy? One by one, the Dementors stole every good memory she had until she was just an empty husk and every noise she heard was a scream.
'Maybe you'll see it my way one day...'
Malfoy was right. She did see it his way.