"If he loved you with all the power of his soul for a whole lifetime, he couldn't love you as much as I do in a single day." ~ Heathcliff
Lost to Memory
He stood on the outskirts of the overgrown property, watching as the small gathered crowd all stood up respectfully from their chairs to look back towards the oddly angled house, a look of happiness and jubilation on each of their faces.
It was a pretty scene, or so he thought if it wouldn't have been for the circumstances. It was early fall and the leaves dripping from the trees were displaying natures beauty in array of colors that ranged from deep plums to stunning burnt orange. The weather was perfect, not too cold nor to hot. It was almost like mother nature was blessing the event.
At the front of the walkway, there was a short, stout man dressed in white robes, whom he knew was from the Ministry. Next to him was a man in dark black robes, surrounded by a mass of god-awful red haired men and one with black. On the other side was a line of women in deep purple gowns, each one wearing bound up hair in varying shades as well as small bouquets tied with white ribbons. In the center was a wide arch made from wisteria branches and vines.
Lights were spelled into the surrounding trees and luminaries set up around the fragrant apple orchard, lending the setting a golden glow that seemed luminescent in the fading light of the sun.
The gathered guests were seated on chairs with purple linens covering them with a pale gold bow around the middle.
It seemed to him that almost everyone of consequence was gathered in the orchard. The Minister of Magic stood in the front row with his tiny, pregnant wife, Madelyn, at his side. In the row behind them were several department heads from various sects in the Ministry. There was also an assortment of professors and staff from Hogwarts. That oaf Hagrid was seated next to Minerva McGonagall, the legs of his chair pressing down dangerously into the ground. The tiny charms professor, whom he could never remember his name was seated on McGonagall's other side.
His attention then turned towards the woman who had started her decent down the white aisle.
"Go, leave while you still can." She shouted at him as she held up her wand and cast a powerful shield charm around him as a bolt of red light shot past by his arm, almost grazing the sturdy leather of his robes.
"I won't leave you!" He fought back, his voice forceful as he worked on setting out complicated movements of his hand to direct his spells. He wouldn't leave without her, no matter what she said. He wouldn't be able to handle himself if something happened to her and he hadn't been there to save her, hadn't been there to watch her back.
As he fought towards her, tears streamed down her cheeks.
"The battle is almost over." She cried, clutching onto the thick armor of his robes as he drew near. "If you're here, still standing when it's done, they will take you."
He looked down at the woman grasping onto him. He had never wanted to kiss her more than he did at that moment. He wanted to pull her into his arms, press his lips to hers and bind her to him, body and soul for all eternity. The thought of grabbing her and apparating away was the thought at the front of his mind. Having her safe, his only goal.
"Don't make me watch this." She pleaded. "Don't make me stand here and watch them haul you away. I can't bear it."
"We will tell them the truth." He said with conviction while he stroked his finger along her cheek, reveling in the smooth, satin texture of her skin. She had bruises and cuts covering parts of her face, but she was still beautiful, still so soft.
The hexes and curses flew around them, but they were oblivious. Her shield was strengthened with his as they stood in their protective bubble, devouring the sight of each other for only a few more moments.
He pulled her into a fierce embrace and sank his long fingers into her mass of curls. He could taste the salt of her tears in the kiss. He could feel all her love, her need for him as it mixed with his own.
"Please, go." She begged, pulling away from him. "Go and be safe. I will send word when everything is sorted out."
He watched as the battle grew closer to them and knew that she was right. If the Ministry found him, it would be over. He would either be executed immediately or go to prison. There wouldn't be a trial and there wouldn't be a chance of seeing her again. They wouldn't wait for her to straighten everything out and the future that they had imagined for so long would be gone in the blink of an eye.
"I will be back for you, witch." He said forcefully, pulling her into his arms again and bruising her mouth with his kiss.
She was beautiful in her gown, looking just like he had imagined she would. Her skin glowed in the slowly fading light. Her hair, the tendrils that had been wrapped around his fingers so often, was pulled up into a loose chignon with curls tumbling loose from the pins down her back. In the sun, it almost looked like burnished gold. The last rays of daylight were lending her hair a halo of bright reds, whites, oranges and browns. She didn't wear a veil and he knew that she had forgone the tradition as it would have blown in her face, obstructing her view of everything around her.
It was one of the things he loved so much about her. Her eyes always had to be open. She was afraid that if they were closed, she would miss something.
His heart ached fiercely as he watched her reach the twining archway. The man beside her, who he knew to be her father, kissed her softly on the cheek and moved back to his seat. Even from his position outside of the wards, he could see the tears that glistened in her whiskey colored eyes as she placed her hand into another's, a man that had been waiting for this moment for the majority of his life.
He pulled out his wand and pressed an amplification charm to the wards, allowing him to hear what was being said, even as it tore his heart to shreds. He needed to hear it all himself, so that he could be at peace with his decision to let her go. As the minister began his speech, he clutched onto his chest, the searing pain almost bringing him low.
"You're late, again." He sneered, watching as she stepped through the floo of his flat, her feet barely making a sound on the deep cream Savonnerie rug.
No one else knew of the place. His father had purchased the flat, well, penthouse, for him when he was only eighteen to hold him over until he inherited. The socially accepted thing was to stay in the families ancestral home until inheriting, but he had insisted until his father had finally given in.
"I was held up." She said defensively, brushing the soot and ash off of her some-what ill fitting robes. "We are at war, you know."
How could I forget? He thought sarcastically as he was right in the middle of it, the same as her.
He looked her over, finally noticing the dark circles beneath her eyes, and breathed out a heavy sigh. She was tired, worn out from exhaustion and his curt welcoming wasn't doing her any good.
"You need to rest more." He replied, bringing his palm up to up to cup the side of her face. He wouldn't apologize for his harsh greeting, but he knew that his actions would let her know that he was sorry.
"When this is all over, I will." She sighed, moving over from the marble fireplace to sit on his lap. He smiled and wiped a smudge of soot that she had missed on her cheek.
"Yes, you will." He didn't say it as a thought, he would demand it and see that she followed through. This war was quickly robbing her of her youth and he would see that she recaptured it when it was all over. Proper meals would eventually fill out her thinning body and plenty of nights curled up in his arms would erase the small lines and dark circles that darkened her expression.
"We are close." She whispered, sliding her hand into his and leaning against his chest. "So close."
He enfolded her in her arms, letting the weight of her body rest against him, reassuring him that hope was still alive.
"How many more?"
He leaned his face down to nuzzle his nose in her hair. Despite the conditions that she was living in, her hair still smelled like lemon and vanilla with a touch of cinnamon mixed in.
"We couldn't have gotten this far without you." She mumbled against the skin of his neck, sending vibrations through his body, fueling his never ending lust for her. It had been too long since he had held her against him. He was dying for the taste of her, to invade her body and mind. "When this is over, we can be free. Everyone will know the truth." She finished, her voice strong with resolve.
He longed to agree with her, to have her optimism, but he couldn't find it, he had lived in the dark for too long. Instead, he murmured against her riotous curls and lifted her up into his arms, carrying her into the bedroom, intent on pushing away the world, even if only for a few hours.
On the mantle was all the information that he was able to gleam from his position. He knew that she would grab it when she left.
He wondered, as he listened to her make her vows, if she was thinking of him. She was instilled in every portion of his body and soul. There was no part of him that she hadn't invaded with her scent, her mind and her possession. She was in his mind constantly. He could hear her laugh echo through his thoughts, feel the caress of her hand as it stroked over his skin. Even after all these years, he could still smell her on his body.
He stood firm though. He had intended to find her, to make her change her mind, but that was the problem. She wouldn't know, didn't remember and he knew that no matter how much he wanted her, his past, regardless of the good that she brought out in him, would always haunt her. No, he had made his decision long before and he wouldn't go back on it now.
He heard a crack beside him, and knew without looking who it was.
"You're not even going to try, are you?" The younger man asked, taking in the scene before him, a slight sneer of disgust marring his aristocratic profile, but his silver blue eyes shone with compassion.
"She would never believe me. Not now, not after all this time. Too much time has passed." He said regretfully.
"You could make her believe. Show her your memories." The man beside him urged and for a moment, he wanted to act on it.
"If I did, it would take everything from her. I can't do that to her. What we had is over." He said, his tone final even though his heart hammered at him to stop what was happening before him, to claim what was rightfully his.
"She deserves to know and you deserve to be happy. It doesn't matter what anyone else thinks because they all know. We were all there at the end."
"I couldn't be happy if it meant that she would lose everything. She means more to me than that."
He looked over at the woman and saw her smiling face. He would never be able to take her happiness away.
"You love her though." The younger man replied, his voice laced with concern. "With her, you are whole."
He watched her run through the darkened corridors, flashes of brilliant light passing dangerously close to her skin. He saw her turn around and retaliate with quick slashes of her wand. The Death Eater running behind her fell to the ground for a moment, but was on his feet a second later.
She fought bravely but he watched her be taken down by Dolohov only minutes later. Everything around him was in chaos and for some reason, he no longer cared about what he was supposed to be doing.
He hid himself in a darkened corner and waited until the room cleared out, leaving only her limp body in the room with him.
He made his way over to her slowly and sank down beside her. He pushed her curls up off of her forehead where they were clinging to her skin from sweat. He thought that he would be repulsed to touch her, given that she was so far beneath him in status and blood, but he had never seen anything like her. She fought bravely, along side those that she loved, hoping to make the world a better place.
Waving his wand over her still form, he ran a few diagnostic spells that he had picked up over the years in his service to the Dark Lord. When he was able to pinpoint the curse that Dolohov had sent towards her, he reversed it and watched as her eyes slowly started to open.
He was stunned with one look in her amber eyes. He held out his hand to help her sit up and noticed the look of fear that crossed her face.
"I won't hurt you." He said gently, trying to ease her fear.
Quicker than he could blink, she grabbed her wand off the floor and had it trained on his face. He placed his hands out in front of her, letting his wand slide down to the floor, showing her that he meant what he said, that he meant her no harm.
"I don't have it." her voice shook, but the wand in her hand never wavered. "Even if I did, I still wouldn't give it to you. Voldemort will never get his hands on that prophecy."
He looked at her for a moment, searching her face for the truth before he slipped the ring off of his finger, the one that had been in his family for generations, handed down from father to son for the past thousand years. He sat the priceless object in her hands and folded her fingers around it, letting the magic and protection of his family transfer from himself to her.
"Do what you can for my family." He begged. "Just place the ring to your lips and I will come to you."
"I don't understand."
"Help Potter. End this war. I will help in any way I can, be it information or money."
Her eyes widened with disbelief. In that moment, he let all of his previous beliefs fall away. For some reason, the world wouldn't be as beautiful if she wasn't in it.
"Go." He said quietly, letting go of her hands and feeling the magic flow between them as she slipped the ring onto her finger, letting it magically resize to fit her tiny digit. When she didn't move, he pulled her to her feet. "They will come back. Get out of here and bring help."
Lucius Malfoy rubbed the empty spot on his finger where his ring used to reside. It seemed ironic that at this point, he remembered giving her the ring while in front of him, she was accepting a ring from someone else.
"It's almost done." His son said from beside him, his shoulders slumping heavily.
"It was for the best. She never would have been happy, not with me." He finally admitted.
"I think you're wrong. I know she loved you."
"Her love was the most glorious thing I have ever known." He said, the truth staring him in the face.
For her, he had betrayed the Dark Lord. But, his son was safe and he was free to live his life for himself, even if she wasn't a part of it.
His eyes followed the aisle runner until they reached her face. He heard the minister pronounce them as one and watched the red headed man who was now her husband lean into her. Her eyes, ever so slowly seemed to move from the man beside her to him. Lucius knew that she couldn't see him due to the wards, but her eyes seemed to land just on him. A smile crossed her lips but he could detect a hint of confusion in the amber depths that he had come to see the world through.
He held his hand up to his heart, letting her know that it would always be hers, even if she didn't know it.
As quickly as it happened, she turned her face up towards her new husband and accepted his kiss, marking her as his for the rest of eternity.
"Come on Father, we should go." Draco said softly, pulling on his arm, but his body was firmly rooted to the spot in which he stood, his eyes transfixed on the moment that had just passed.
"Go on ahead, Draco. I will be along in a few moments."
He watched his son disappear from his side and turned his attention back to the wedding before him.
He didn't know how long he stood there. Time had ceased to matter without her by his side. He watched her dance happily with her guests, heard her laughter when the bouquet was tossed and caught by the Lovegood girl. With each passing moment, he felt a part of himself wither and slowly die. She no longer belonged to him was the thought screaming through his mind.
"I can only imagine how hard this is for you." A voice said from beside him.
"We can't explain it." The healer said, looking up from his clipboard with compassion in his eyes. "We've been able to detect her memories, but they are hidden in such a way that..."
Lucius didn't need to hear the rest to know that she was gone from him, that her light would never be shone on him again.
The war was over, the light rising victoriously from the ashes of the Final Battle, as it was now being called. The Dark Lord had fallen at the hands of Harry Potter and his family had been absolved of all charges. But he had lost. Within moments of disappearing, Hermione had been hit with a stray curse from Bellatrix's wand, causing her to lose her memories.
"You can see her, of course, but I doubt that she will remember you." The healer continued, opening the door for him to see in.
Surrounding her bed was her friends and family, even his own son was there, seated next to her, holding her hand in his.
He expected to be cursed upon walking in the room, but instead he was met with eyes full of compassion. He walked to his son, his feet seeming to be weigh a ton with each step he took closer to her. Draco immediately stood up and offered him his chair.
The room cleared out almost immediately, leaving him alone with her.
She was still sleeping and he thanked the gods for their small mercy. He didn't think he would have been able to handle her eyes shining at him and not knowing what they had shared, the life that they had planned to have.
He ran his hand along her arm and up to her face, loving the feel of her satiny skin against his own. His eyes traced every feature, memorizing everything so that he wouldn't forget, like she had done. His fingers wound into her hair, allowing the heat that seemed to radiate from the mass sear into his body. He hoped that the heat would keep in warm in the cold years ahead without her.
Lucius tried to not feel anger, but he did. He blamed her, himself, Potter, everyone. If she wouldn't have been so insistent, he would have stayed beside her, fighting along with her and keeping her safe. Instead, he had gone, saving himself.
He sighed and lifted his wand, his decision firm in his mind. Placing the serpent handled wand at her temple, he felt all of his emotions from their time together flow from the wood to her mind. She wouldn't remember, but she would be able to feel his love if she was deep in thought one day. She wouldn't know where it came from, but it would be there. A piece of himself.
Before leaving, he lifted her hand, pressing his lips to the ring of his that she still wore. With a whispered spell, the ring transformed into a thread of pure gold before disappearing into her skin, leaving a glowing, intricate vine that wound from her finger all the way to her heart.
"I love you, always." He whispered against her hand as the thread diminished, still there, but not visible.
He took one last look at the woman who had come to mean everything to him, then shut the door silently behind him.
"No, you can't." He said, looking down at the man who had taken the woman he loved to wife.
"You may be right, but it doesn't change anything. I can imagine how it would feel without her and I wanted you to know..."
"You can't imagine how it would feel. Lucky for you, you will never feel the searing agony of losing her to someone else. You will never know what it is like to stand to the side and let her go. You will never know what it's like to love her and to look in her eyes and know that it's all just outside of your reach." Lucius said softly, dangerously.
"I know that she remembers you."
"She remembers how I feel about her, but nothing else."
He didn't know why he continued to stay, continued to torture himself.
"Go back to her." He said softly. "Keep a hold of her. She should never be lonely."
"She won't be." The red head swore. "She will have me, but she will also have you, even if she doesn't know it." Ron said, showing more maturity than Lucius knew he possessed.
"Lucius?" she called from the bathroom.
When she turned around, she jumped a mile high, causing him to laugh.
Lucius was standing in the door frame, watching her smooth the vanilla scented lotion over her skin. The smell of her always had the ability to drive him crazy.
He shrugged off his heavy outer robe and made his way into the bathroom, walking towards her until her lace clad hips hit the black marble counter. His hands lifted her against his body and then deposited her onto the gleaming marble.
She ran her fingers through his long tresses and simply gazed into his eyes, a slight smile playing at the corner of her lips. She pressed light kisses into his jaw as he relaxed against her, letting himself be soothed by her gently ministrations.
"I love you, Lucius, always. No matter what happens in this war and beyond. You will always know and be able to feel the love I have for you." She pressed her small palm to his chest, right above his heart. "I will always be in here, just like you will be in me. Nothing will ever be able to change that."
When he opened his eyes, he was alone outside the wards. The party had died down, the decorations were being removed. There were various couples around the yard still dancing even though the music had passed, but the majority of the lingering guests were helping take down the ceremony and reception.
His eyes caught a glimpse of white silk and almost instantly, she was standing before him, her loveliness stunning him as it always had and always would. He held his hand up to the wards and watched as they disappeared, no longer separating them. She placed her smaller palm in his and smiled. It was the same look that would cross her lips every time he told her of his love. It was a secret smile, one that was made just for him.
Her doe eyes searched his, looking for what, he didn't know and wouldn't have been able to tell her as he was so affected by her presence.
"I know you." she whispered tenderly.
"Yes." He didn't quite trust his voice, so his tone was rough with unspoken emotion.
He watched Hermione tilt her head to the side as intense sadness welled inside her amber eyes, causing them to brim over with a single tear. Her finger touched the invisible thread, the lingering piece of him that he had left, tracing it up along her hand and finally resting at her heart.
"I love you, Lucius, so deeply." She whispered, her eyes seeming to flare to life for a moment before they became confused again. "I know that the party is over, but there's still more champagne if you would like to come in."
He looked down at the woman he loved and smiled slowly. She didn't quite remember him, but pieces of her would. She would occasionally have moments of clarity and remember the love and life that they had almost shared. They would be there, but they would disappear before she knew what it meant.
Her hand slipped to his arm and he felt her touch through his robes. Like magic, she was gone before he could move. He watched her walk slowly back to the orchard, her white gown flowing around her.
A gentle breeze through the orchard brought her scent to his nose one last time. He breathed deep. With the stars glittering in the early night sky, he turned away and finally disapparated.
When he stepped back from her, his eyes locked onto hers, letting her know that he meant what he said. He would come back for her. Lucius pulled out his wand and used a piece of magic that she herself had taught him. It was illegal, but he needed just one more moment before he agreed to her demand that he leave.
The battle around them froze and he smiled, feeling more courage than he had ever felt. "Marry me." he asked. "Be my wife, have my children. Let me love you until we are both so old we can't move. Let me show you for the rest of our lives just how much you mean to me, how much I love you."
She took a step forward and kissed the skin of his knuckles. "You don't even have to ask. My life was meant to be shared with you, only you, always."