I do not own Harry Potter or any of its characters, J. K. Rowling does. In addition, I do not make any profit from this fanfiction.
Enormous thanks to Glorioux for editing this story for me.

Neither For Nor Against

Chapter 1

Noon, Friday, June 10, 2005.

Hermione was sitting in her office at the Ministry, futilely attempting to work. She did not feel well; something was significantly off, but she couldn't quite put her finger on it. From the moment she had kissed Ron good-bye in the morning before he left to work, a dull ache had planted itself deeply in Hermione's heart. By noon, it was obvious that the ache was not going to leave anytime soon. At first, Hermione thought that perhaps she hadn't gotten enough sleep or that she was overworked and stressed, but as the day progressed, waves of unexplained anxiety combined with the ache in her heart and became almost unbearable.

I need to find out what's wrong; something must have triggered this reaction in me, thought Hermione.

All of a sudden, the door to her office flew open, and Harry appeared at the door. He stood there in silence for a few seconds, just watching her with peculiar, glistening eyes.

"Harry, wh—what is it? You startled me!" rasped Hermione, surprised by the hard lump in her throat that seemed to have come from nowhere but now was obstructing her breathing.

"Hermione, there was an attack." Harry's voice was as raspy as Hermione's.

"They—they… It was unexpected. He… she… we didn't know. He sent a patronus for backup, but we were late…" mumbled Harry. Then he abruptly stopped, drew a deep breath, and looked Hermione directly in the eyes. "It's Ron, Hermione."

"What are you saying, Harry? I don't understand. I don't hear you…" Hermione couldn't make sense of what Harry was saying. Her heart was pumping outrageously loudly and her temples were threatening to explode any minute.

At that moment, an owl loudly knocked the window open and dropped something on Hermione's desk. She focused on the dropped object. It was a special issue of the Daily Prophet.The letters were jumping up and down in front of her eyes, but eventually she was able to read the heading:

Breaking News: Vicious Deadly Attack of Alleged Death Eaters. Two Dead.

Hermione's vision blurred and she couldn't read anymore. She locked her eyes with Harry's again and opened her mouth, trying to utter something, but she was interrupted by two loud apparition pops. Lucius and Draco Malfoy forcefully burst into Hermione's office. In a blink of an eye, Lucius pinned Harry against the wall, holding him by the throat. He looked wild. His platinum locks were in a horrible state of dishevelment. Hermione never had seen Malfoy's face such an angry, flushed-red colour.

"You! Bastard! I will smother you! I won't even waste magic on you. I'll just kill you with my bare hands!" yelled Lucius.

"Father, father—let him go. Calm down, please!" Draco was unsuccessfully trying to reason with his father.

Lucius just shook him off with one intense movement of his shoulders. Draco groaned in frustration, but stood back.

"Malfoy," Harry's voice was muffled as he tried to fight his way out of Malfoy's hands.

"You and your damn Aurors were supposed to protect her, and now she is dead! Dead! Do you understand that? You worthless bastard! My wife is dead!" With this desperate cry, he loosened his deadly grip on Harry's throat, and Harry was able to breathe again. Lucius's hands left angry red marks on his neck.

"So is my best friend!" Harry yelled back at him.

Hermione let out an audible sigh.

For a short while, their laboured breathing was the only sound in the room.

"I am very sorry for your loss, Mr. Malfoy. I lost my best friend today and Hermione lost her husband. I promise you—we will find them. I will do everything humanly possible to find these bastards and lock them in Azkaban for the rest of their lives."

Hermione was quietly watching the shocking scene play out in front of her, but when she heard Harry's last words, she felt her senses slowly vacate her body. The last thing that had registered in Hermione's mind before unconsciousness engulfed her was a piercing, heart-wrenching roar.

Lucius Malfoy had cried out like a deadly wounded animal: "She's dead, Potter!"

Then, total darkness and silence surrounded Hermione. Harry launched to catch her, and together they slowly slumped on the floor.

The first thing Hermione saw when she opened her eyes again was Ginny's red hair. She slowly looked around. She was still in her office, lying on a small sofa. Harry and Draco were sitting at her desk, quietly discussing something. Lucius was gone.

"Welcome back," said Ginny softly.

"Ginny," whispered Hermione and sat up to hug her friend. They looked at each other; no words were spoken (nor were they needed), but tears were silently streaming down their faces. In a few minutes, Harry also joined them in an embrace.

Later that evening, all of London's Wizarding community read about the event in the Evening Prophet:

Deadly Death Eaters Attack

A vicious, brutal, and cowardly attack took place today just before ten o'clock in the morning. Five Death Eaters attacked Narcissa Malfoy while the victim was running errands beyond the territory of the Malfoy Manor and, therefore, was vulnerable.

Earlier this year, after the Malfoy Family received a number of threatening letters, Narcissa Malfoy had been placed under the Auror protection program.

Auror Ronald Weasley was on duty today and heroically fought to protect Narcissa Malfoy. During the fight, in which Weasley was unfairly disadvantaged, he managed to kill three Death Eaters and seriously injure a fourth. However, as the attack was sudden and unexpected, he was unable to send a patronus for backup immediately. Therefore, grievously, we report that Ronald Weasley and Narcissa Malfoy were killed by the time the Aurors arrived on the scene. Aurors took into custody the wounded attacker but another attacker was able to flee before they arrived.

The Department of Magical Law Enforcement has opened an emergency investigation under the supervision of Harry Potter. Lucius Malfoy has vowed to support the investigation every step of the way. The attackers were likely part of a group called "The Dark's Lord Heirs." As of now, The Department of Magical Law Enforcement does not have reliable information about the group; however, with one member of the alleged group in the custody, they hope to have some information soon.

It is a tragedy that today, seven years after the war, ghosts from the past brutally took from us vital and dearly beloved members of our community. They will not be forgotten.

We are sending our deepest condolences to the Malfoy and Weasley families.

—Daily Prophet Staff