Disclaimer: I do not own HP. :-)
A/N: First one-shot ever! This is for that d/hr contest. :-) Be nice with the reviews, friends! x luv u all.
A/N 2: In this case, dementors kill Hermione. I know it's kinda off-character for these hoodlums but I think that when dementors suck your soul out, you become lifeless, and technically dead 'cause you don't have life or vigor. :-) thank you nature love 95 for being my first reviewer x
A/N 3: Flawless Soul, I revised the error! thank you. :-)
"When was the last time you felt you were at your happiest?"
The question burned in the deepest, most unfathomable corners of his mind. His subconscious fought to remember the moments wherein he had smiled, leaped from corner to corner, and pumping fists in the air. It got him in a pensive. When had I ever been happy?
"What kind of a question is that?" he snapped. "What's the connection between what you're teaching me and having happy memories?"
The tinny, resonant trills of the crickets broke the stillness of the forest as they welcomed the moon and the night sky full of shimmering celestial bodies. She stood up, dusted the bottom of her pants, and turned to face him who was still on the ground, ignoring her every move.
"That's the point," she frowned slightly. "The core component of a Patronus Charm is the happy memory. Without it, your corporeal guardian won't shoot out of your wand."
"And why do I have to learn this?" Draco turned to look up at her for the first time that night.
Hermione laughed softly as she locked eyes with him.
"Because sometimes, you have to remember that you can't fight your demons alone." She looked down for a bit as she stuffed her hands in the pockets of her jeans and she looked back up again.
"But why the need for a happy memory? I thought that this was sufficient enough." He stood up, never letting his eyes off hers.
"We all have dark times, Malfoy," she whispered as he neared him. "And knowing that you're thinking of some blissful moment you've experienced when going through life reminds you that there is light even in the darkest of times."
Draco shivered as the cold wind blew. He wrapped his trenchcoat tighter to his body as he felt the temperatures drop. It was his third night, sitting alone in the forest, waiting for her to come. At first it had not mattered to him that he had to learn some Patronus Charm. Being a former Death Eater, he does not have the power to conjure such a spell. Why? Because they weren't happy people. And that was a sad reality.
He thought himself to be so deranged as to associate himself with a Mudblood. He was Draco Malfoy and all his life he was raised to hate Muggleborns because they were filth and bastardious in nature. Or at least that's what he thought.
He had always been a clean-cut man who liked to keep things neat and in the proper order, but he never realized that he would one day let himself loose and dive into the dirt.
"Granger, why are you always so tardy?" he muttered to himself as he blew warm air into his closed palms. He heard no noise except for the ticking of his watch and the soft whistle of the wind.
"Granger, where are you?" he yelled, standing up. "I've been waiting here for hours…"
He sucked in cold, minty air as his eyes pricked up. He knew that yelling or screaming her name was a gesture he had done in vain because he knew she wasn't going to turn up from behind the tree, cowering in fear due to her dilatoriness or coming from behind him, giggling softly as she tried to scare him. It was not just the third day of his visit to the Forest where she had taught him the Patronus charm. It was the third day after Hermione had gone. It was the third day after her funeral. Hermione Granger was dead.
"I've always loved trees," Hermione smiled as she looked up at the red and orange tinted leaves. It had been the first few weeks of fall and they were on their third attempt at making a Patronus. "They look so pretty in the fall."
"Why are you so full of cheer, Granger?" Draco scoffed as he brushed his hair from his eyes. "Eventually, these leaves are going to wither and die. What's so happy about fall?"
Hermione glared at him.
"Your soul is eventually going to die from the doleful attitude your statements contain, Malfoy," she replied curtly. "But yes, I am aware of their mortality. Yet I am not one of those who sit back and count the days until they age. These things of nature were put here for a reason."
"And what, pray tell, is that imbecilic reason?"
"They're here to be appreciated. I guess that's why they try so hard to stay beautiful. They have to impress those who watch them, after all."
"Oh, and are you trying to say that you're trying to impress me too?"
Hermione dropped the leaf that she was holding and Draco realized what he had said.
"What are you trying to say, Malfoy?"
Draco shook his head.
Hermione felt her cheeks turned pink and she smiled inwardly.
"Well, you want to know what I think, Malfoy?"
"I'm quite impressed with you."
Draco turned to look at her as she flitted to another tree and found himself not tearing his gaze away from her.
Draco was leaning on a tree trunk and stared at the senescent branches. "I told you, Granger, leaves wither and die. Why must you be so happy about the fall?"
He waited for her usual bubbly response but remembered that she was not around anymore. His eyes were glassy as he checked his watch. The date flashed December 16, five days after she had passed away. He remembered her red mini dress that she matched with pink stockings and the way her outfit matched with his trenchcoat.
He sighed as he walked back home, shoulders hung low and heart heavy. How long can he survive without her hand constantly on his to get the aim in a precise manner?
"How long do we have to keep this liaison up, Malfoy?" Hermione shivered as Draco draped his arm around her, pulling her close. "Aren't you worried that they're going to find out?"
"Find out about what?" he whispered in her ear. "You teaching me the Patronus charm? Wasn't that what Lupin taught us three years ago?"
"Let's just say I forgot how to cast it."
Hermione giggled as he felt his nose touch the back of her neck.
"But you've never cast a Patronus charm in your life."
"Let's just say the closest I have to a Patronus is sitting right beside me, under my arm."
She smiled at him.
"Well, as your Patronus," she started as she touched his cheek with her finger. "I do promise to keep those dementors out of your life."
She gasped as she felt his lips press gently onto her cheek and he whispered, "I think you've done your job pretty well."
"YOU PROMISED, GRANGER!" he kicked a tree trunk and winced in pain as the force the tree gave off proved stronger than his. "YOU PROMISED TO KEEP THE DEMENTORS OUT OF MY LIFE!"
And for the first time in his life he felt tears falling down his cheeks.
"YOU PROMISED YOU…" he gasped unstably as his voice decided to lessen in volume. "You promised you wouldn't leave me."
And with the pent-up frustration threatening to burst out of him like the uninhibited roar of flames, he threw the ring she gave him before she died onto the ground and turned to walk away as the piece of jewelry stayed intact before it was buried by the snow.
He walked away, tears streaming down his face as he remembered that the promise she had sworn to keep was equal to the ring that he threw on the ground: worthless and obviously taken for granted.
"Ah, Miss Granger," Lucius laughed evilly as he pushed her to the ground and conjured chains to prevent her from escaping. "How nice of you to come."
"What do you want from me, Lucius?" she asked as she struggled and pulled the chains until her wrists started to hurt.
"What courage you have, Mudblood," he sneered as he walked around her. "Calling me by my first name. Obviously not remembering who is on top here."
"He'll come back. He'll save me."
"Who? My son?" he cackled. "MY pureblood son will save you? That's hilarious."
Hermione searched frantically for Draco and sighed with relief as she heard footsteps.
Draco had come panting as he faced his father and Hermione.
"GRANGER!" he knelt down beside her. "FATHER, WHAT ON EARTH HAVE YOU DONE TO HER? LET HER GO THIS INSTANT!"
"Your mudblood tells me that she's been teaching you the Patronus Charm," he flicked his wand once and an ominous cloud appeared in the sky. "Let's see how well she had mentored you."
Dementors flew from every direction as they all moved toward Hermione. Draco panicked as he saw wisps of life coming out from her mouth and into the nostrils of the demons. He could feel Hermione's fear as she screamed for her to help him.
"CAST YOUR PATRONUS, DRACO!" she screamed. "CAST…"
"Expecto patronum!" he chanted.
Nothing came out.
Draco dropped his wand due to the Dementors inhaling some of his soul too. After Draco recovered, he saw a dying Hermione struggling to breathe. He—
"I failed, Granger," he whispered softly. "I failed to save you."
He shut his eyes, trying not to remember the memory. He cried silently as the wind grew nippier and colder. Despite his vow never to come back, he did. It had been a week and it felt as if he had only lost her yesterday.
He leaned back against a tree trunk as he willed himself to forget about the tragedy but he couldn't. She was dead and it was his fault.
"I don't blame you, Draco," someone whispered. "You weren't ready."
His eyes flew open and he felt chills run down his spine.
And unbelievably, a seemingly alive Hermione walked toward him and he backed up a little bit.
"What's wrong, my love?" she said as she touched his hand gently. "Why are you afraid to see me?"
"You're not alive anymore, Granger," he said as he shut his eyes again. "You're not."
He opened his eyes again and met familiar brown eyes. He gasped as he reached for her. Indeed, his touch met human flesh.
"Where have you gone all this time, Granger?" he snapped as he turned around. "Why did you leave me here?"
She laughed softly and Draco felt his heart crumple. He had missed her.
"I never left you."
"I don't understand," he said. "You died. And it was because of me."
Hermione wiped a tear away from his cheek with her back of her hand and Draco put his hand on top of hers.
"I have failed you," he repeated. "I let you die. I did."
"When was the last time you felt you were at your happiest?"
"Are we returning back to the start?"
"Just answer the question."
He inhaled deeply and ignored the fall of tears.
"When you were here with me."
"Then focus on that."
"What? How can I, knowing that in a few moments you will disappear and go to another place, leaving me here all alone?"
"But the memory of me won't."
"How is a memory comparable to the real thing? I want you, Granger. I want you here with me right now."
Hermione shook her head and smiled.
"You don't understand."
"Yes," Draco snapped. "Clearly I don't."
She took him by the hand and pulled him to the center of the forest.
"In a few moments, I will be gone, Draco," she whispered as she stroked his cheek. "I will be gone forever."
"No, you won't—"
Hermione put a finger to his lips.
"Yes, I will," she said. "Because we are all fleeting parts of some bigger plan that's out there waiting to unravel what is in store for us. But there is the power of memory. Once you hold onto it, it will feel like I never left."
"But you did!" he exclaimed. "You left me and you broke your promise."
"No, I didn't, darling," she replied. "I took away all your demons, didn't I? I was the cause of your demise. I was the reason for you and your family's big spat."
"But you were worth it. Why did you have to die?"
"Again, I keep my word."
Silence hung over them and the stillness of the forest returned. Then a ray of light entered the night sky and Hermione turned to look.
"It's my time."
"No, it isn't! I need a happy memory in order to make a Patronus! And how can I do that without you here?"
Hermione looked back at him and said, "Close your eyes."
"No, you're going to leave me if I do."
"No, I won't, Malfoy, you silly prat," she giggled. "I'm always in your mind, remember? And the power of thought tramples physicality. And love knows no bounds. It crosses even to the most unfamiliar of places as long as it knows how much worth that person is to you."
"Shh…" she whispered as she gripped his hand tightly. "Close your eyes, Malfoy."
Draco reluctantly did so and he felt her lips brush against his. He felt himself losing his breath and felt his grip on her waist loosening. Images of her and their brief affair in the woods flashed into his mind. As the flow of the memories intensed greatly in his brain, he opened his eyes and saw that Hermione had gone and in his hand was her wand.
And for a moment there, he thought he was dreaming. He cursed Merlin for making him believe such drivel until he saw a red-hued leaf falling slowly in the middle of the wintry eve. He shut his eyes again and felt a strange sensation course through his veins. The memories of her eyes, her hair, and her lips pumped his spirits as the sensation spread throughout his body. He shook as he felt his vein pop with excitement and out from Hermione Granger's wand a jet of blue light flashed.