"Draco, wake up."
Draco stirred as a hand was placed on his shoulder. With a sigh, he dragged his heavy eyelids open.
Ginny Weasley stood above him, looking intently at him as he slowly roused.
"How'd you get in here?" he asked groggily, sitting up and blinking rapidly as she took a seat at the foot of the couch.
"Hermione gave me the password. Just in case."
"I see." he mumbled, stretching his arms above his head and hearing the bones crack.
Ginny winced, rolling her eyes.
"Do you have to do that? The sound is repulsive."
He smirked, leaning back into a cushion.
"It's a habit."
"Well, if you didn't fall asleep on the couch I'm sure you wouldn't need to do that."
"Couldn't make it to my room. I was pacing the corridors all night."
"Yeah, I understand." she sighed, crossing her legs.
"Have you seen Hermione?"
"No, not yet. McGonagall says she's still at St. Mungo's and Madam Pomfrey won't tell us anything."
"They have to tell us how she is some time."
"And they will. But for now McGonagall says that anyone caught sneaking off will be expelled."
"I bet she's got special traces on us too." he grumbled, and Ginny laughed.
"Probably. Do you want some tea?" she asked, gesturing towards the kitchenette, and he gave her a funny look.
"As long as it's not laced with poison."
"You ungrateful prat." she laughed, smacking him over the head with a pillow.
Harry soon came to find Ginny, and joined her and Draco in sitting on the couch quietly, all nursing a cup of tea. A sharp knocking at the door caught their attention, and Draco unfolded his limbs and rose to answer it.
"Draco!" Pansy shrieked, flinging herself at him through the portrait.
He caught her easily, flinching as she wrapped her arms as tightly around him as possible.
"Don't ever leave again." she mumbled into his robes, and he nodded numbly, letting Blaise and Theodore in.
Ginny and Harry greeted the boys kindly, inviting them to take a seat and Draco looked down at Pansy.
"Pans, do you think you can let go now?"
"You're cutting off my air flow."
"I don't care. You left us."
She suddenly slapped him, the sound ringing through the room and causing Blaise to chuckle.
"You're meant to say 'I'll never do it again!' Not sorry!" she glared at the blonde.
"Well, there's really no guarantee of that..."
She slapped him again, harder this time.
She grabbed his collar, pulling his face to hers with a sudden jerk.
"Say it, Draco Malfoy, or so help me Merlin!" she snarled, glaring at him.
"Okay! I'll never leave Hogwarts again without your permission." he choked out.
"I still don't forgive you, but okay." she ruffled his hair and let go, making her way over to the couch and sitting down in Blaise's lap.
Draco blinked, stunned, and then composed himself and opened his mouth to say something when another knock interrupted him.
Opening the door, his eyebrow rose.
"Malfoy. Can I come in? I brought food from the kitchens. Lots of it."
Ginny and Harry nodded, and Draco stepped back after a long pause.
"Hello, Hermione." Tonks said, clasping her hand.
"Tonks." Hermione breathed in disbelief. "What are you doing here?"
"While you're in this state, I can come and visit you. Hermione, I've missed you. I can't stay for long."
"Because there's something you need to do." Tonks told her.
"What's going on?" Hermione frowned, confused.
Tonks sighed, squeezing Hermione's hand quickly.
"You're being healed. But you'll be told about that when you wake up. All of us that passed in the Hogwarts battle, Hermione, we've been watching you all." she smiled, pressing her hand to Hermione's heart as the brunette started to tear up.
Three days later.
Astoria cracked her eyes open to find the room dark. She stared at the ceiling for a few seconds, trying to comprehend the events that were rushing through her brain.
It hit her all at once, and she gasped in horror.
A hand closed over hers tightly, and she found Daphne leaning over her, concern etched deep into her tired and worn out features.
She promptly burst into tears.
Great, shuddering sobs wracked her body as Daphne wrapped her arms around her tenderly.
"It's going to be okay."
Those five words were so simple, but when strung together were just what she needed to hear. And, she realised, what she had needed to hear all along.
It was going to be okay. It was over.
"I love you." Daphne whispered into Astoria's hair, clutching her little sister to her and wondering where it was that she had gone wrong
Rodolphus LeStrange sat in his cell in Azkaban, thinking.
He had failed her; failed Bellatrix-the love of his life, his true other half. He had come so close to avenging her, but the chance had slipped through his fingers like sand.
And now here he was. Sitting alone, cold, and in the place that he despised so much with nothing but his regrets to keep him company.
Minerva McGonagall was efficient. Which was why, as she strode out of the Infirmary, she was already listing the reports that she needed to make in her head.
She briefly wondered when it was that Dumbledore had coached her for this job. Perhaps he had known all along that it would end up like this.
With a shake of her head and a barely audible chuckle, she spoke the password and stepped into her office, reaching for parchment and a quill as soon as she got to her desk.
He hadn't missed the Dementors.
They leered at him as if they had never been outranked by him.
They taunted him, their faceless forms hovering closer than they should.
Lucius idly wondered if there would be a fight over his soul-surely, the Dementors wanted it badly enough.
He rubbed his temples, wishing that he were back home with a glass of scotch in hand and Narcissa curled into his side.
Instead, he was in his cold cell, lying on the lumpy mattress and hearing the howls of the inmates mixing with the wind.
So Lucius Malfoy closed his eyes and dreamt of better things.
"Potter, Weasley, can this not wait until tomorrow morning?"
"It's important." Harry persisted, and Minerva sighed.
"Professor McGonagall, please." Ginny fixed the Head Mistress with a pleading look.
"Come in, then." Minerva replied, opening the door to allow Harry and Ginny into her office.
The two sat in the chairs in front of the desk and she sighed, waving her wand and starting the kettle.
Taking a seat in her chair, she folded her hands on her lap.
"What can I help you with?"
"We want to testify for Lucius Malfoy."
"We've missed you all, but we're there in spirit." Tonks told Hermione as she sniffled and wiped away a tear.
"We know. It's not the same, though."
"Pass on my love to Mum, will you?" Fred asked, wrapping his arm around Hermione's shoulders.
"Of course. What about George?"
"Oh, he knows I'm there," he grinned.
Lupin bent down to give Hermione a hug, and Tonks looked sad.
"It's time for you to depart now. We've loved having you here, and we're glad that we could come to you for the time we did, but you don't belong in the spirit world."
"I'll miss you." Hermione choked out, and Fred squeezed her tight to his side as Tonks clasped her hand.
"We'll miss you too. Stay safe, Hermione. And remember, we're always there when you need us. Tell Harry and Ron too." she whispered, and then suddenly Hermione was alone.
Four days later
"Harry James Potter, what do you wish to tell the Wizengamot?"
He took a deep breath, and the images of that night flashed across the back of his eyelids when he closed them.
Turning his gaze to the members of the Wizengamot, he spoke.
His mother's grip tightened on his arm, and Draco glanced at her out of the corner of his eye. She was a shade paler than usual, and her eyes were rimmed by faint dark circles, but you wouldn't be able to tell unless you actually looked at her. And even then, her practiced smile covered up the stress.
Placing his own hand over hers, he waited as the Wizengamot rose.
"We gather today to review the case of Lucius Malfoy, charged with breaking house-arrest," there was a pause in the room, and Narcissa squeezed Draco's arm as he looked down at his father.
"Based upon the evidence, and the testimonies and memories given by a Miss Ginevra Weasley, Mr Harry Potter and Miss Astoria Greengrass, we have agreed that Mr Lucius Malfoy is.."
Narcissa stopped breathing for a second, and Draco waited, tense as the room seemed to still.
"Thank you, all of you." Narcissa said quietly, tightening her hold on Draco's hand.
He squeezed back and turned his eyes towards the door as it swung open, feeling his mother let go of his hand and follow as a Ministry worker beckoned her over.
Ginny appeared at his side, watching as Lucius was guided out of the court and into a room, Arthur Weasley following shortly after.
Draco sighed heavily, feeling a little lighter, a little less scared now that one thing was sorted out.
"Thanks, Ginny." he turned to look down at her.
She smiled, meeting his eyes.
"Hermione's woken up."
"Miss Granger, squeeze my hand if you can hear me."
She blinked slowly and focused on squeezing the hand that was wrapped around hers.
"Good. Can you speak?" the medi-witch peered at her, and Hermione wet her lips with her tongue.
"Yes." she rasped, and the medi-witch smiled.
"Get this girl some water, please!"
The room burst into a flurry of activity.
"I want to see her."
"Draco.." McGonagall sighed through the floo connection that the Ministry had allowed him to burrow for a few minutes.
"Okay." she cut the connection. Stepping into the fireplace, Draco thanked the officer that offered the pot of Floor powder.
Two minutes later, he was walking down a long hallway with McGonagall.
"Is she talking?"
"And she can see? Hear? Feel?"
"Yes. She seems to be okay, but I'm sure Madam Pomfrey will monitor her for post-Crucio symptoms." the Headmistress caught Draco's worried eyes and smiled.
"At the moment, things are looking up. But she needs three more days stay here at least, and then a week in the infirmary."
"As long as she's alive."
McGonagall stopped at a door, pushing it open for Draco and letting him step through alone. A MediWitch stood next to the bed, writing stuff on some parchment and she smiled when he came in before looking down at her notes again.
"Hermione." he breathed, his gaze falling onto her pale, still form in the bed. Her face was healed of cuts completely, but she still looked broken. It terrified him.
He took a seat, clasping her hand and leaning forward, his breath catching in his throat as he took her in. He didn't even register the MediWitch leaving, instead his eyes scanning her body for movement.
"Draco?" Hermione's hoarse whisper startled him, and he looked up to find her blood-shot gaze on him.
"Good morning, Sleeping Beauty." he smirked, and she wheezed a tiny laugh.
"I'm so glad you're okay."
"Me? I'm fine. I'm glad you're okay." he replied, cupping her cheek with his hand.
"I am now." she breathed, her eyelids fluttering closed as she relaxed into his touch. He leaned forward, pressing his lips to her nose and then her mouth softly.
"And you will be. I'll never let anything like that happen to you again."
"Mum?" Draco called hesitantly, stepping out of the fireplace and cringing as his steps echoed around the entry room.
When he got no response he put his bag down and started off in the direction of the lounge room, peering in to find his parents curled together on one of the couches.
"Draco!" Narcissa cried, her face lighting up.
"Mother, Father." he responded, leaning down to hug Narcissa.
"Son. I've missed you."
"Are you alright?" Narcissa stroked his cheek softly with a frown.
"I'm fine. Tired, but fine."
"Please, sit. Tell us everything about school."
Draco sank into one of the chairs and took a deep breath.
Four days Later:
Professor McGonagall stood at the end of Hermione's hospital bed, surveying the Gryffindor.
Hermione stirred in her sleep, and McGonagall sighed quietly.
Today had been big for her Heads, with Hermione waking up and Draco being sent home to visit his parents for the weekend.
She was glad that for now, everything was okay.
The medi-witch bustled in, interrupting her train of thought and she turned.
"Good evening, Minerva."
"Good evening. Can I take Miss Granger back to Madame Pomfrey now?"
"Yes. Just sign this form and everything will be complete."
Minerva McGonagall took the offered quill and signed quickly, handing the form back with a smile.
"Thank you, Helen."
"I'll send her straight through."
And with the woosh of the fireplace, she was gone.
Astoria walked into the Great Hall, Daphne and Anthony at her sides. When people started to whisper, Daphne shot them a glare.
"She was under Imperio." she snapped, and the students fell silent.
Anthony reached down to take her hand, and she smiled.
"You don't have to walk me to the Slytherin table." she told him.
"I know. I want to." he steered them towards two empty seats and sat down next to her, a smile playing at his lips as she looked at him confused.
"What are you doing?"
"Sitting with you." he grinned.
She was stunned into temporary silence, and he laughed, picking up a bread roll.
"So Daphne, where are you headed after you finish this year?"
The next morning, the headline on the front of the Daily Prophet took up half the page.
"LeStrange sentenced to life in Prison, struggle erupts outside Courtroom.
"Rodolphus LeStrange was arrested the other day by a dozen Aurors for kidnapping and torturing two minors in a plot to avenge his wife's death. LeStrange was one of the few remaining Death Eaters on the run from the authorities. Yesterday, he was sentenced to life in prison, and upon leaving the courtroom attempted to take down his guards. There was a struggle and he was killed in wand fire."
June 27th, 1999
"Where are we going?" she asked, looking around curiously.
"You'll see. Close your eyes."
"Okay, okay. Closing." she laughed, letting him lead her down the corridor.
"Good. Not far to go."
Draco counted the doors carefully, stopping at what he hoped was the right one and opening it. Gently leading Hermione inside, he let go of her hand.
"You can look now."
She opened her eyes and blinked slowly, looking around.
"A broom cupboard?" she asked, before gasping as it clicked in her brain.
"Not just any broom cupboard."
"No!" she exclaimed, looking at him. He nodded, and Hermione laughed.
"It's perfect." she smiled, pulling him close for a kiss.
He wrapped his arms around her, pulling her closer with a smirk.
"The door won't lock this time, and I thought it'd be nice to escape the hectic environment and spend a day together before the Graduation Ceremony on Saturday."
"I can't believe you remembered." she smiled, walking down the steps and looking at the small table and chairs set up, with candles and a small lunch laid out.
"Of course I did." he rolled his eyes playfully, walking up behind her and draping his arm over her shoulders. "Shall we eat?"
"Yes. It smells delicious."
He pulled out a chair, grinning at her.
After lunch, they sat on the floor, Hermione nestled into Draco's side. He paused in their conversation and looked down at her.
"What is it?" she asked, looking up to meet his gaze.
"After graduation, do you want to go to Greece with me? Our family has a small holiday home on the coast and I thought it'd be nice to spend some time there, relaxing and doing nothing before we get our NEWT results and think about what we're going to do."
"Really? That sounds perfect." she smiled, leaning up to kiss him softly.
He laughed, brushing a strand of hair from her face and kissing her back with a smile.
"I love you, Hermione. I'm glad we got stuck in this broom cupboard last year."
She laughed, pulling him closer.
"I love you too."
Wow...I've finally reached the end.
This has been a huge journey, in many ways, and it's kind of sad to wrap it up.
Firstly, I want to thank YOU, all the readers for, well, for reading it. For putting up with slow updates and cliffhangers and plot twists. You are awesome, and without you and your reviews and support, I wouldn't have got half as far as I did.
Then I'd like to thank my beta, Emily, and Bex for her constant encouragement. And Shalla, for her support and faith.
I won't make any more promises on other fics, as University is something that I have to devote a lot of my time to, but there is something I'd like to write, so stay tuned.
Thank you again for all being here and reading it all, it's been an epic journey and I hope you all enjoyed it!