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Chapitre Sept

Early morning light began to seep through the muslin curtains of Severus' flat. After waiting for hours, he had begun to pace, worry evident on his face. Lucius was also apprehensive. Hermione should not have taken this long.

Severus' head snapped up when the door opened slowly. Standing there, her hair swept up perfectly and her makeup flawless, Hermione stepped into the room. Her heavy, coat dress shifted with her hips, and a feathered hat was perched daintily on her head. Moving to the center of the room, she turned as if surveying something distasteful.

Lucius moved to look at her, one eyebrow instantly rising. This Hermione was different, and he suddenly worried that the duke had gotten to her. But his suspicions were soon answered.

"What's going on?" Severus asked, moving toward her.

Tilting her chin up defiantly, Hermione didn't flinch. "Severus, I came to tell you, the duke came to me last night after you left—"

"He came to you? Are you okay—" he asked, grabbing her arms, breaking off when she looked down at his hands on her.

Pushing his hands away, she straightened her skirt and looked up at him. "Yes, everything is as it should have been before you entered my life. The duke has offered me everything I have ever wanted. I am finally going to be a real star; with the opening tonight, I am going to be a real actress."

"But, you said – before you said you love me."

"Ha ha ha—" she began to laugh but abruptly stopped when a wracking cough shook her. Recomposing herself once more, Hermione turned back to him. "I never loved you. We only needed you to write the show; you do have a wonderful talent for that, after all," she murmured, running her finger along his jaw, and he shoved it away.

Stepping closer to her, clutching her arm tightly, he ground out, "I don't believe you! You're lying! There is something you aren't telling me."

Gasping in pain, Hermione tugged at her arm. "There is nothing I am not telling you, Severus. I don't love you, and you should leave. I never want to see you again."

Stunned, Severus suddenly let her go. Lucius' mouth fell open. He could not believe she was doing this. She didn't look like she was under the Imperius curse or bound to the duke. Something was definitely wrong.

Chest heaving from exertion, Hermione spun around quickly and paced to the door, slamming it behind her. With a determined look, Lucius followed her through the door. Once outside, he saw her lean back against it, looking up at the ceiling. When Severus yelled out in pain from the other side, Hermione shuddered, and a pained look crossed her face. Lucius knew she was lying.

Taking several deep breaths, Hermione calmed. Caressing the door once, she turned and walked away. Lucius watched her for several moments before returning to Severus.

Inside, Severus looked like he was in physical pain. He paced, then threw himself on the bed. After staring at the ceiling for an hour, he jumped up suddenly, drawing his wand. Aiming at the mirror, he shouted, "Expulso!" Blue light erupted and the mirror shattered. Shards of glass scattered, nicking his face as they fell.

Smacking the wall, the door cracked when Sirius forced it open. "Sevewus? Are you alwight? What's going on?" He moved to the darker wizard's side, but Severus didn't respond.

Slumping down onto the bed, Severus ran his hands through his hair. "She doesn't love me, Sirius. She never did."

Sirius' eyes widened. "Why on earth would you say that? I have never seen Hermione act like she does when she is with you. She loves you, I know she does."

Looking up at Sirius, Severus clenched his teeth in anger. "She… She told me that she doesn't love me. Those words came from her."

"Why would she say such a thing? It doesn't make any sense," Sirius pondered aloud. "There must be some other reason."

Lucius closed his eyes with relief, a move he never thought he would do in his life over something Sirius said.

Shaking his head in disbelief, Severus stood up, striding to the balcony in anger. "Well, I don't believe there is any other reason. She doesn't love me. Now, please leave."

"But Sevew—"

"I said leave!" Severus turned sharply, pointing his wand at Sirius.

Raising his hands, Sirius backed out of the room, quietly shutting the door behind him.

Turning back to the balcony, Severus leaned against the railing. Night was falling swiftly. Lucius followed his gaze, and his eyes fell upon the Magie Noir. Sirius was just bounding up the front steps and disappearing behind the door.

Donning his coat, Severus shoved his wand in his sleeve and slammed the door. Bolting down the stairs, he stalked across the street to the Magie Noir. As he pushed the door back and slid inside, the show was about to begin. The torches were low and slight coughs punctuated the air periodically.

Wandering to the right and down behind the stage, he slipped behind the side curtain. Several feet away, his eyes landed on Tom Riddle as he lit a cigar. Seeing the bald wizards eyes widen, Severus quickly turned away and slipped under the stage.

Above him, the show was beginning.

"She is mine…" Slughorn called out as the applause died.

"I only speak the twuth, I only speak the twuth, I only speak the twuth…" Sirius' voice resonated as he descended the stairs.

Crawling to the other side of the stage, Severus reemerged from beneath the wood and descended the stairs to the dressing rooms. Silently, he slipped into Hermione's dressing room and sat down on the settee.

Leaving Severus' side, Lucius moved through the door to inspect things going on around him. Above, he could hear Hermione singing. "Kiss… Hand… Diamonds… Best friend."

To his right, he could see Riddle looking under the scaffolding, searching for Severus. Unable to find the dark wizard, Tom got up and stalked off toward the other side of the stage. Lucius sighed with relief, listening to the final strains of the number above.

Hermione hurried down the stairs, removing the headpiece of her costume at the same time. Pushing the door, she gasped when Severus stood. Showing his teeth, he advanced on her, slamming the door.

"How could you use me like that? Was being a star worth cutting out my heart?" he leaned down into her face and her eyes widened.

"Severus, please…" she pleaded breathlessly. "I told you to go—"

Abruptly, he released her. "Well, I've come to settle a debt. I never paid you for services rendered." He pointed his wand at the script lying next to her, Transfiguring it into a stack of Galleons.

"Severus, those Galleons aren't worth anything, you know—"

"Exactly…."

Swallowing hard, Hermione nodded, turning and leaving the room. Snatching the fake Galleons, Severus followed her, catching up with her at the top of the stairs.

Clutching her arm, Severus pivoted her around to face him and found her wand in his face. "Severus, you need to leave…."

Letting her go, he backed away slightly. She then mounted the stairs, disappearing on the other side of the curtain. Searching the scaffolding, Severus ran toward the other side of the stage. Halfway there, a sleeping Neville fell through a door, landing at his feet.

Divesting him, Severus put on the Potion maker costume and bounded up the steps two at a time. At the top he stumbled over Hermione, and she reached for her wand. As they struggled, the curtain rose, exposing them to the crowd.

Horace gasped, causing Severus to look up. After scanning the crowd, Severus looked back down at Hermione angrily. "You mean nothing to me," he told her coldly. Raising his closed hand, he opened it and the fake Galleons tumbled out of it, raining down upon her with gentle clinks.

Looking up at Horace dressed as the evil sorcerer, Severus declared, "You can have her now, I've paid my whore." Looking back down at Hermione, he told her, "Thank you for lifting the veil from my eyes." Stepping over her, Severus descended the stairway and walked up the main aisle to the double doors, pausing briefly by the duke but never looking back.

Shaking on the platform of the set, tears seeped from Hermione's eyes. Horace quickly strode to her side to help her up.

Suddenly from the rafters, Sirius' voice boomed out over the auditorium. "The greatest thing you'll evew leawn is just to love and be loved in wetuwn."

Looking up at the rafters, tears streamed quicker down Hermione's face. Slughorn looked down at her, his face softening. "He could never give you what you wanted, it's time to sing your wedding vows, my love," he announced.

Weakly, she sang out, "I never knew I could feel like this… it's like I've never seen the sky before… Want to vanish inside your kiss, every day I'm loving you more and more."

Severus stopped, resting his hand on the door.

Hermione sang on, stronger, "Listen to my heart, can you hear it sing? Come back to me and forgive everything—" She broke off suddenly, gasping for breath.

Severus turned around to face her from the end of the aisle.

"Seasons may change; winter to spring… I love you 'til the end of time…" she trailed off in a whisper.

Singing lowly, moving toward the stage, Severus replied, "Come what may... Come what may… Come what may…."

Sighing, Hermione smiled through her tears.

"I will love you," he told her.

"I will love you," she replied.

"Until my dying day," they sang together as Severus finally joined her on the stage.

"Come what may," he told her, holding her in his arms.

"Come what may," she sang.

"Until my dying…" they trailed off when Sirius swung across the stage screaming.

Landing in the center of the stage, Sirius announced, "They are twying to kill you!"

The audience laughed, but Narcissa screamed when Riddle came onto the stage, chasing his wand. Quickly, she kicked it across the stage and Riddle ran after it.

Remus then ran in front of the actors, shooting sparks from his wand to cause a distraction while Harry directed the musicians in a light-hearted tune. Neville blasted open a side door, knocking Riddle's wand from his hand once more. Remus then took the opportunity to cast Incarcerous, binding him with ropes.

Lucius watched from the stage as his counterpart pivoted out of his chair and walked stiffly down the aisle away from the stage. Suddenly he spun back around, wand drawn. He advanced toward the lovers but fell forward on his face, unexpectedly stiff when Horace cast Petrificus Totalus over him.

Moving around the stage, all voices joined Severus and Hermione. "Come what may… I will love you… Come what may… I will love you, until my dying… daaaay."

The curtain fell to enormous applause as Severus hugged Hermione to him. Looking down at her, he smiled, placing his lips gently upon hers. Abruptly, she gasped for breath.

"Hermione?" He asked gently.

Panting, her chest rising and falling painfully, Hermione struggled to breathe. "Sev—"

"Sh, sh, love, don't try to talk. Someone get the doctor!"

Lucius floated over to rejoin Severus, then knelt beside him when the younger wizard sunk to the floor with Hermione in his arms. Frowning, he didn't understand what was happening.

"Severus," Hermione whispered. "I'm so sorry, I—" she broke off, coughing.

Caressing her face with his fingertips, Severus wiped away blood on the side of her mouth. Studying it briefly, he looked back down at her. "Hermione, what's wrong?"

Raising her hand to caress his face, she whispered, "Severus, I'm dying."

"What? No!"

"I tried to send you away, I tried—"

"I know, it's all right, I'm here now. I won't leave you. How will I go on without you?" He pulled her up into his arms, holding her tight.

"You will go on, you have to," she whispered, her breath wheezing. "Promise me you will move on. Just remember, I will always be with you. I… love… you…." Her words trailed off as her breath abruptly stopped.

Severus leaned back to look down into her face. "Hermione? Hermione?" She stared at him, no longer seeing. Hugging her to him tightly, he threw back his head. "NOOO!" Rocking back and forth, he sobbed uncontrollably.

Devastation rocked Lucius. Tears rose in his eyes, and he raised his hand, placing it on Severus' shoulder in an effort to comfort him, forgetting that this wasn't his friend, forgetting that he could not touch him.

Suddenly, Lucius' world began to spin, and he found himself on the floor of Trelawney's hut once more. Sitting up, he rubbed his back where he had fallen against a stool.

Shaking, Trelawney came out of her trance and, using her wand, pulled the swirling fibers away from her head, placing them in the Pensieve. Helping Lucius up, she told him, "Souls always find one another, no matter their form or re-embodiment. I leave you to do what you will with what you have learned today."

"Coming, my love," Firenze called from the doorway.

"Yes, darling, Mr. Malfoy was just leaving." Trelawney pushed Lucius out the door, joining the centaur under the night sky.

"How long…" Lucius began.

"You have only been gone a few hours," Sybill told him absently, placing her hand in Firenze's and disappearing into the thicket.

Staring after them, Lucius shook his head. A muffled sound off to his right interrupted his thoughts, and he frowned. Suddenly, his eyes widened when he realized what the sound was and ran off in that direction. As he approached the clearing where he had left Severus and Narcissa, he found Hermione lying on top of Severus, sobbing dejectedly.

Sliding to a stop, he approached her quietly. Kneeling down, he placed a shaking hand on her shoulder. "My dear…"

Gasping at his presence, Hermione pulled her head up to look at him. Her eyes were red and swollen from crying. "L—Lucius, the—they're dead! We couldn't – it isn't fair – I don't understand how it affected him and not me. How can we go on?"

"Hermione, love, I know that Severus and Narcissa would have wanted us to move on. And we can, if we help each other." He extended his hand to her, pulling her up into his arms and held her tightly to him.

Leaning back and tilting her head, Hermione studied him with a frown. "Lucius, are you all right?"

"No, but I will be." Sighing, he cast a Levitation spell on the bodies, and he and Hermione walked back to Hogwarts, Severus and Narcissa floating behind them.

The next day, a pyre was built to destroy the remnants of the sickness which had gripped the wizarding world. The final residue of Tom Riddle's evil rein was eliminated once and for all.

Levitating Severus and Narcissa's bodies onto the fire, tears fell from Lucius' eyes for his friend and his wife. Beside him, tears also streamed down Hermione's face. Together, they stood, faces grief-stricken, as Harry directed a flash of sparks for each victim. Closing his eyes as the last two sparks took flight, Lucius tentatively reached out and found a warm hand in his. Leaning into one another, shoulders hunched to ward off the chill February day, they walked away, never looking back. Their lives had changed forever.

The touch of her hand in his brought Lucius back from the past. Shifting his head, he looked over at her, his eyes meeting the golden brown of hers. The love shining from those eyes had made the pain of war, the pain of losing his friend and his first wife to a maniac, more bearable.

"Knut for your thoughts?" she asked quietly, lacing her fingers with his, breath still short from their activities.

Conjuring a light blanket, he covered them, and then shielded them from the rain.

A small smile turned up one side of his mouth. "I was thinking—"

"You were thinking about the past again, weren't you?" She frowned slightly, shifting away. "Lucius, you have been doing that a lot lately. Is everything all right?"

"Sh, my dear, everything is fine. But sometimes it is good to review the past; it reminds me how fortunate I am to have you in my life. They say time changes all things, but I never knew I could feel like this."

"Like you've never seen the sky before?" she asked breathlessly.

"Exactly. If I should die this very moment, I wouldn't fear," he told her, tugging her chin up with one finger.

"For I've never known completeness like being here." She smiled up at him.

"Want to vanish inside your kiss…" he told her solemnly.

"Every day I love you more and more." Her mouth twitched up on one side when his eyes dilated at her confession.

"Wrapped in the warmth of you, loving every breath of you." He leaned forward, rubbing her cheek with his.

"Still my heart this moment or it might burst…" She reached up, caressing his jaw.

"Listen to my heart, can you hear it sings? Telling me to give you everything." He leaned back, pulling her with him, cradling her in his arms.

"Could we stay right here?"

"Seasons may change; winter to spring, but I love you…"

"I love you…"

"Until the end… of… time…" Sliding her hand around the nape of his neck, Hermione pulled his head down and their lips met.

Tasting her sweetness, Lucius raised his hand to tangle in her curls, his tongue circling hers delicately when she opened her mouth in warm invitation. Pulling her closer, he provocatively sipped her lips, savoring this moment in time, for he never knew when it might be their last.

~Finis~

**A/N: So many thank yous go out to ladyinthecloak, Sempra, and OSUSprinks for all their help for everything from cheering me on to betaing this fic. I owe you guys so much. This story was written for the LM/HG exchange for Pokeystar with the following prompt: HP-ified Moulin Rouge (the BAZ LUHRMAN version). Lucius as the Duke; Hermione as Satine. YES, with song lyrics spoken as dialogue. Bonus points if either Ron or Neville is the Narcoleptic Argentinean. Thanks, Pokeystar, for the inspiration. =o) And my final thank you goes to the readers. Thanks for coming along for the ride. I hope you had fun. Stef