Last Request

Disclaimer: I do not own HP. :-)

A/N: It follows a non-linear timeline, jumps from the past to the present! Hope you guys don't get confused. This piece is awfully long! For Sofia's fourth ff contest. :D

A/N 2: I doubt I will be able to upload the 12th chapter of Ten Weeks, given my piling requirements. Expect it by the end of the week. I promise this time. ;-) Sorry and enjoy this for the meantime! Give me lots and lots of reviews for Ten Weeks and this please. Writer's block is killing me.

He could hear Requiem play, the melancholy notes reverberating in the hallowed chamber and he watched several wizards enter in black garb, the women with dark, translucent veils covering their faces. He could hear the sobs, the cries, the wails, the blatant curses of Molly Weasley in the background and the soothing yet urging pleas of her husband Arthur in an attempt to keep her decent.

The walls were draped in fiery scarlet complimented with the fine hue of gold, the colors somewhat clashing. These colors did not look like this mismatched back in Hogwarts, he thought as he clutched that white vellum in his palm. That lector's stage was so near, so uninviting… it can ruin him. He whispered Accio time and spritely, green numbers flashed in front of him, indicating that it was almost his turn. And almost the time to run away from this all.

He furtively avoided the cold, hard glances of the people around him. Some were hissing and some were whispering, the breathy tones of their conversation sounding like accursed spells coming from the mouth of the Dark Lord.

Memories threatened to overpower him and he shut his eyes, pleading with the reveries not to toy with him.

Not now.

Not ever.

He inhaled deeply, shuddering from the cold Dean Thomas had brought in after opening the door.

He laughed bitterly to himself, wondering how Winter could have timed itself with this tragedy. The sky outside was dingy, grey and tempestuous, threatening to erupt a deluge onto the earth's surface, which was now covered in white snow. He watched outside, expecting children to throw those snowballs at each other, laughing heartily as these little ones would start practicing their blocking charms to avoid the impact of the collision of these balls at their sides.

That was only but a vision as that image he saw dissipated before his very eyes, seeing nothing but the fluttering of papers with words of DEATH, MOURN, and…

"You," he heard a chilling tone echo behind him. "Murderer."

He turned around, facing a red-faced Molly Weasley, her tawdry hat lopsided, the flower decoupage on the accessory half-falling. His heart was pounding and he could bet ten Galleons that she could hear the thumping sounds too.

How did he know that to be true?

Maybe it was the way she had labeled him, a name he knew he didn't deserve. Or was it the way she was sadistically and madly grinning like one of those Azkaban prison guards.

Either way, her presence made him palpitate. The fear of her and what she could do to him. She may not be dark in nature but the way he saw her scream a while back…

"Molly." He replied curtly.

"Is that all you have to say?" she hissed, her voice threatening. "Molly?"

"Well, what am I supposed to say?" he said coldly, his voice just as chilling. "What am I supposed to say, Molly? How are you feeling?"

"You heartless brat," Molly Weasley crossed her arms tightly now, her eyes narrowing to slits. "And to think you still haven't changed despite your parents' death…"

He kept silent, rage bubbling inside him but he decided to keep it cool. He knew that he would explode eventually, holding all this angst in, but he was trained enough, knowing that he kept his feelings in for so long.

He was surprised he could restrain himself enough.

He knew Molly expected him to attack and kill her right there and then, but she was wrong.

She couldn't break him even if she tries hard.

"What else is there to talk about, Molly, that isn't about death?"

Again he knew that Molly couldn't get herself to break the stone barrier that he built around his temper.

But Molly worked differently.

"YOU BRAT! YOU STONE-COLD BRAT!" Molly screamed, stomping her feet in rage. "I WILL MAKE SURE YOU END UP IN PRISON FOR WHAT YOU HAVE DONE TO HIM! I WILL MAKE SURE OF IT!"

He shut his eyes again, seeing only darkness and the thunder that was Molly Weasley.

"YOU BELONG WITH THOSE MONGREL IN AZKABAN!' Molly continued her rant and he could hear Arthur whispering in her ear and he could hear someone crashing into a pew. And he assumed Arthur was the victim.

"Molly… please…" Arthur begged. "I know you're not like this. You don't want this anger anymore."

"And how would you know that, Arthur?" Molly turned to her husband. "How would you know that I wouldn't want this anger anymore?"

"He doesn't want this anymore, Molly," Arthur whispered. "He doesn't want this."

"Did you ever put yourself in his shoes, Arthur?" Molly scoffed. "When he was hanging from the tower in Hogwarts?"

His eyes were open now and he faced a sorry-looking Arthur and a madman Molly.

He could feel the memory pulsating in his medulla, ready to shoot itself into his subconscious and lock itself there forever, a memory that can never be erased.

For once in his life, he felt a heavy feeling set itself on his being. And to think he wanted power for so long.

"All right, everyone," the Minister of Magic tapped his throat and he watched a wildly flailing Molly restrained by Arthur and a half-eared George and they settled her in the front row and she turned back to stare at him again, eyes threatening to kill. "Let's all settle down now and listen to the eulogies."

Who knew that experiencing the whole world's anger heaving itself onto your shoulders would be so suffocating?

Suddenly, Draco found it hard to breathe, knowing that almost all eyes were now upon him even if Minerva McGonagall's voice was cracking, her Sonorus spell making it too obvious as she was delivering her eulogy. He knew he didn't want this at all, he knew he didn't need this.

The painful, stabbing stares were jabbing on his insides, clawing on what was left of his pride and yet he never wanted to back down.

Again, almost all eyes were upon him now.

All except hers.


Draco Malfoy always relished the feeling of the silver platter treatment. He was what you called the Accio boy because just like the spell, he could get what he wanted. His father, even if he was the patriarch, still bowed down to his son's requests and got him a spot as Seeker by buying the entire Quidditch team Nimbus 2001 broomsticks and got him a gold-plated chess set in his fourth year plus many more countless gifts.

Draco never sought to know what the catch was because year after year, he would only be bestowed, not requested. He felt like the King of the World, no decisions to make and no decisions to follow.

All Draco knew in his Hogwarts school years were to beat Hermione Granger in academics, break the hearts of his fellow Slytherin girls, and to be in the popularity chain in the school. With Draco's charm, cunning wit, aristocratic features, and his wealth, he was able to do two out of three with one look and a lot of moneybags.

He knew this was what he wanted. He wanted this carefree life, this roster of girls rapping at his door, screaming for him and wanting to be with him. He remembered the way the girls would flock to him and would melt like pools of candle wax when he would whisper in their ears and the way his mates would high-five him after a date with five girls at once, with all five women unaware of course just as he had planned.

But despite all this, why wasn't he still satisfied?

Why, despite all this, knowing that he could get anything he wanted, still not say that this wasn't enough?

Maybe it was because he was popular but not famous. He had girls and guys alike chant his name but no one ever praised him for what he had done or for who he was. And even if he wanted to buy the status of famous child survivor Harry Potter, he could not. He was on the side of the one who tried to kill Harry Potter and in a way, why would Voldemort want to kill him as a baby with a fan-crazed Lucius bowing before him?

And probably the fact that Hermione Granger still got that Outstanding in Transfiguration and he didn't, plummeting him down to second honors. He was still going to fight for this honor to finally complete his want list. And maybe then, he could finally say that he could get everything he wanted.

There was a constant noise that bothered Hermione Granger every evening since the beginning of her sixth year in Hogwarts. She would study in the library and would hear the constant quill scratches on paper, the rustling of books, and the terse flipping of pages.

This is preposterous, she had thought. It's practically midnight and no one but me had requested a special pass from Pince to access the library for study hours!

For months she had ignored the noises but during an intense week of double Potions, Transfiguration exams, and Ancient Runes homework, she had enough of the disturbances and decided to trace the noises and they had led her to the Restricted Section of the Library and wondered who in their right mind would stay in such a high Filch target area.

She had expected Harry to be there, remembering the way they had kissed behind the bookshelves.

In between Polyjuice and Pippa Prick, she sighed, delighting the way his lips were on top of hers. Before she knew it, she was lost in a daydream again, forgetting that her target was in the same area as she was.

"Precious Potter isn't here," a cold voice spat. "You'd best be looking in the coward section for the git."

Hermione's blood boiled, hearing her archnemesis speak, and she turned around to see Draco Malfoy hunched on the study table, reading on the hundred side-effects of Wolfsbane.

"What are you doing here?" Hermione asked, her teeth gritted. "Aren't you supposed to be out frolicking with some wench?"

"I'm surprised to hear you call my girls that way," Draco replied coldly, standing up and arms crossed over his chest. "Seeing as how I always see you snogging Potter everywhere you go. Tell me, are you any different? Should you be called a term just like he does? Hmm… let me see… chosen wench?"

"Don't you dare…"

"But I applaud you both for holding in your sickening love for each other, knowing how Potter has been missing in action lately, probably off fighting or something like that. How long can you restrain?" he laughed sadistically.

Hermione remembered slapping him that evening, seeing the pale red imprint of her hand on his cheek and walking away, her hair fluttering as she huffed.

Hermione couldn't understand why she had hit him, knowing he was right. But she knew that she had to understand Harry's predicament. Everyone she knew depended on him for their life and being the girlfriend of the chosen one was a hard one to maintain, the stress of it all taking toll on her physical features.

She missed his company and his reassurance. She missed his praises whenever she would get three more questions right even after a verbal challenge with Severus Snape.

She missed him.

But despite all that has happened and with the war looming, isn't it more important than ever to keep your loved ones closer?

What she didn't understand was Harry's complete disregard for her letters, her gifts, and her pleas.

Why was he pushing her away during a time when she needed his embrace, his protection, and most of all, just him?


"He was a man of secrets, I can assure you that," Ron Weasley said, tapping his fingers on the lector's stage, his papers rustling. "He liked keeping things to himself, not telling anyone what his next mission. And all that I had to do was keep him sane. I never knew any of the Potter hidings until in our sixth year when he finally broke down and said… 'This is what you need to score Lavender Brown.'"

The crowd laughed mirthfully despite the aura the funeral gave off and Ron was glad to see that he managed to cheer up the multitude of mourners who were here for the man who he called his brother.

Draco Malfoy, still sitting in the pews, felt his heart palpitate when Ron Weasley walked back to his seat, indicating his eulogy's end. He was nervous as hell, clutching the sweat-stained paper in his hand.

When will this end?

When will this end?

He glanced over to her, her brown head down and he could hear her muted weeps over the echo of laughter given off by the others. And for once in his life, he wanted to hold her, caress her cheek, and whisper to her, "Everything will be okay" until she would stop crying.

Because he knew she needed that.

And he knew he needed that as well.


Draco Malfoy was confused, feeling his head jerk up and his greys searching constantly for her. He blamed their countless nights together, still utterly stumped by her offer to help him excel. He knew it was just her way of reeling from Harry's sudden disregard for her and he knew that the war was near. He could never imagine how or why in the world was he seeking help from a mudblood he had hated so much all his Hogwarts life.

And yet, as he watched her eyes turn glassy, bending her head down further to focus on the Runes, he felt his heart break a little bit.

Just a little.

"What does this mean, Granger?" Draco asked, his slender finger tracing on the yellowed page of the textbook. "I've been trying to translate this for a week now and I can't seem to find the meaning…"

Hermione let out a labored sigh, her browns following the shadow of his digit. "That's quite easy, actually," Hermione let out a weak chortle. "It means… The potter is trying to let go of his clay."

Hermione's voice cracked and she added, "Wonder what that meant…"

Draco could hear the raw need Hermione had for Harry and realized that he did feel his heart break. It wasn't normal for a guy like him to feel that way, let alone for a kind of person he hated. And he wasn't one to feel pity for the numerous women who cried over him. He always heard the sobs echoing from different bathrooms in the school and he would just grin and laugh at their heartbreak silently.

But why had he treated her differently?

Why did he feel the need to watch over her?

"Granger," Draco whispered, resting his head on his palm. "I think we need to call it a night."

"Why?" Hermione asked, stunned but her head was still bent down, focused on the runes. "Are you tired?"

"I think you need to rest."

"Why? I'm perfectly fine."

"No, you aren't."

"Stop insisting—"

"Granger," Draco held a commanding tone this time. "Rest. We've got double Potions tomorrow. I doubt the brightest witch of our age would want to sleep in during Snape's triple-point recitation, now would she?"


The brown-haired woman was still in the same position throughout the five eulogies, bent down and focusing on the eulogy she had written.

Why was he here? She thought, tears threatening to fall. After all this, I still can't forgive myself.

She daren't look up and only did so when she had to talk to her seatmate or when she could feel his greys boring into her back. She can't look at him the same way ever since that Tower incident.

She couldn't forgive him.

She just couldn't.

But her heart willed her head to crane a bit and take a subtle glance, just a quick one to satisfy herself. And when she did, he had looked away but his sharp profile, his blond hair falling into his eyes, his passionate greys, his pale red lips, his strong hands…

She bent her head down, biting her lip before her guilt and tears threatened to implode.

She knew she was still reeling from it all, the deaths of many of her friends, the rubble that was Hogwarts, her feelings for Harry but most of all…

Her feelings for him.


This isn't right, she thought as she watched Draco repeat the potion steps three or four times before writing them down. She had glanced at him more than ten times that night and had written Draco in the blank beside the question The spell used to transform a snake into a young lad. She cursed herself, wondering why her thoughts were now occupied with the Slytherin Prince and how she cautioned herself constantly that she was treading on dangerous grounds due to his playboy reputation and of course, her muddy blood.

It had been three months since she had offered him help with his studies, seeing his hidden passion for academics and the will to excel, attributes she could mirror easily.

She shouldn't feel this way but she relished the nights they would spend together, arguing over topics such as Wolfsbane vs Lacewings and the like. Oh, how she loved their debates, the way their voices clashed when they would bring points up and would shoot each other down until one would give up.

A case which never happened or even existed, when it came to their arguments.

She loved how she could have an equal, no blood purity talks tossed in this matter. She loved how someone could keep up with her knowledgeable pace and her thirst for learning more.

"I think this step in your potions essay is quite off."

"What? How?" Hermione grabbed the paper from him, scanning every word and number she could find in her work. "This obviously quite cuts it. Cut ten spruces up to bits and…"

"And what happens? You, of all people, should know that spruces could very well damage a leaf growth potion, seeing how spruces have the ability to neuter the spore of this particular leaf…"

"But you of all people should know that this spore is no ordinary spore but a Mandrake spore and spruces could very well meld with this kind." She countered.

"But you were aware when Longbottom stuck his finger into the Mandrake's mouth, it was filled with spruce juices which poisoned the Mandrake in the end."

"Neville stuck his finger in? He's an Herbology expert!" Hermione exclaimed, crossing her arms over her chest. "That was you with your little scream, your adorable face all scrunched up…"

Hermione watched as Draco smirked.

"What did you say, Granger?"

Hermione stiffened, realizing what she had just said.

"I… nothing."

"Did you say that I was adorable?"

"Adorably annoying, I meant to say…"

"Oh, really?"

'You didn't make me finish!"

"What was there to finish?"

Draco cast a side-long glance at a blushing Hermione and she scowled at him, and he laughed, continuing his study. Later in the night, he felt a heavy weight on his shoulder and he inhaled the sweetest lavender scent into his nostrils. He turned to see a sleeping Hermione Granger resting on his shoulder and he smiled, not realizing he had allowed this muggle to even touch him.

But the way she had looked so peaceful in her slumber made him realize too that she had finally lived through Harry's disregard for a while and the thought of that made him happy for a little while. He wrote endless amounts of notes down on parchment until he rested his head on hers, shutting his eyes due to exhaustion.

He had thought that they were alone but little did he know that Harry Potter was watching them behind the bookshelves, smiling serenely as he watched the both of them sleeping peacefully side by side, knowing that everything was going according to plan.


"How does it feel when someone doesn't want you in their life anymore?" Hermione suddenly asked, looking up from her parchment.

"Is that part of Snape's questions?" Draco did not look up.

"No, but I'd like to seek your advice."

"I'm the opposite of relationship expert, Granger," Draco sighed as he shut his book and put it down on the table and now focused his attention on Hermione. "I'm the school playboy."

"My thoughts exactly," Hermione replied, moving two seats to sit beside him. "How does it feel when you push away one of your wenches?"

"It's been six months since we've been friends and you still call my women wenches. Looks like someone's jealous."

"I'm not," Hermione blushed pink. "I just… I… forget it. Could you tell me?"

"Well, maybe because I don't really care for them anymore."

"What?" Hermione asked, her eyes glassy.

"It's true," Draco drawled, unaware of Hermione's heavy breathing. "When I don't care for a woman, I push her away before she gets too clingy."

"Well, I'm sorry for being too clingy!"

"Pardon?" Draco's eyes widened.

"I'm sorry, Harry! I'm sorry for caring so much about you! I'm sorry for being there all the time!"

"I'm not Potter, Granger…"

Hermione stood up and ran out the library doors, stopping dead due to Draco's tight grip on her wrist.

"What are you talking about?" Draco asked gruffly.

Hermione's tears fell harder.

"He's pushing me away, why is that? I'm not good enough for him, am I?" Hermione asked, her tone progressively increasing in volume. "I'm not good for anyone!"

"Stop saying that!"

"I'm not worth his time! I'm not worthy of his emotions, I'm not worthy…"

Hermione sobbed and Draco pulled her to him, her head resting on his chest and her tears soaking his white shirt.

"That's not true."

Hermione shut her eyes, her weeping growing softer as she felt his hand stroke her brown mane. Her grip on his waist grew tighter and she looked up to meet his passionate greys, tempestuous as ever.

"Who am I worthy enough for?" Hermione murmured into his shirt, his wood spice intoxicating her. "Who am I worthy enough for, Malfoy?"

Her voice was increasing with need.

"Who?" she replied weakly.

"You're worthy enough for me." Draco replied softly, wiping her tears with his index finger.

Hermione's mouth widened as Draco's lips received hers, pulling her into a passionate kiss and she shut her eyes, surrendering to the movement of his lips and the raw need to satisfy both their wants at the moment. They broke off after, breathing heavily and Hermione feeling this need for him to kiss her again, but her morals rang warning bells.

This is not right, this is not right. Hermione thought as she gazed at Draco with this newfound passion.

A guilty newfound passion.

She broke off from his embrace and a stunned Draco tried to run after her but he stopped, knowing his efforts were to no avail.

And right there and then, he knew that he didn't want to want anymore because the person he now needed had disappeared right in front of his eyes.

Yes, he said it.

He needed her.


"…He was a brother to me, the way I always received his embraces right after a Quidditch match or his humor never fails to make Ron and I laugh. But most of all, he was the best lover that I had had. And he deserves more than the love I had given him when he was alive. I thank him for teaching me how to be patient and to love my enemies."

Draco Malfoy's ears perked up at the last three words Hermione had enunciated but she still hadn't looked his way. He hated how stubborn she was, still trying to avoid her feelings for him. He knew that to be true, seeing how she had received very well his kiss years back.

But he clung to the letter in his palm tightly because he knew that the words would affect only the most important person in his life right now.

And he knew that with all his heart, he loved her despite everything.

That was another thing he knew always to be true.

Forever.


Harry Potter felt the smoothness of the parchment as he stuck his hand in his pocket, knowing that the war had erupted already. He clutched his wand in his hand as he ran up the stairs leading to Hufflepuff's tower, looking for a hiding place and looking for Hermione.

He could hear the jeers of Dolohov and Carrow behind him, their voices laced with a passion to murder. His scar stung painfully as he felt the presence of the Dark Lord nearing him, ready to rip, tear, and kill. He knew that he had to save everyone quickly, the heaviness of the Wizarding World atop his shoulders. He watched from the Tower as Hermione and Draco were still arguing and were at each other's throats.

"I still don't understand why you're still avoiding me, after all the times we spent together!" Draco screamed.

"Oh, please!" Hermione exclaimed. "Being the heartbreaker, you ought to know when to stop playing!"

"But I'm not playing!"

"How would you know? You're so used to having girls worship your every move, Malfoy."

"I've changed. I have feelings."

"Feelings?" Hermione laughed bitterly. "Feelings for whom? The Dark Lord?'

"Feelings for you, all right?"

Hermione was stunned, reeling again.

"I don't know how or why, but I just do," Draco continued, watching a Hermione glance guiltily at him. "And I know you feel the same way too."

Hermione still kept silent.

"Don't you, Granger?" Draco neared her, stroking her hair, his breath heating her forehead as he spoke. Hermione chided herself for not complaining.

"I…"

"I what?"

Draco snaked his other arm around her waist, gripping her tightly.

"I…"

"Say it." Draco commanded, his voice a low growl.

"I love Harry," Hermione broke off again. "I love him. I do."

Hermione Disapparated.

Draco shook his head and stomped in frustration, wondering why he had fallen so hard for her. And still angry over the fact that she was lying about the way she felt for him.

He remembered her stolen glances and the way she would blush when he called her smart or witty or beautiful…

He bet Potter would have his head but he didn't care.

Potter!

He saw him fighting Death Eaters above and he Disapparated, appearing in the Tower and stunning Carrow but was restrained by Yaxley.

"Ah, Malfoy," Yaxley sneered, gripping his wrists tightly. "I see you're here to help me finish Potter."

"No, on the contrary, you bastard."

He skillfully kicked Yaxley's stomach with his foot and the Death Eater winced, letting Draco go from his iron grip.

He rushed to Harry's side when he saw a flash of light later destroy the wall, throwing Draco over the edge and left him clinging onto a loose banister and an untied Harry grabbing onto his other hand.

"Potter, you don't have to…"

"Save it, Malfoy. I'm doing this for the greater good."

He reached his other hand to help him up when suddenly, a recovered Yaxley pushed Harry over the edge and clung onto Harry's hand this time but he felt him letting go.

"Potter, are you mad?" Draco hissed. "You're going to die."

"Harry!" Hermione screamed. "Harry!"

Her cries were muffled as Yaxley restrained her.

"Let go, Malfoy," Harry urged. "Let go."

"I ask again, are you mad?"

But before Harry answered, Yaxley pointed his wand on the floor, casting an explosion spell, and the ground that held them together fell, crashing down and Draco's life flashed before his eyes, and the face of Hermione Granger etched itself into his thoughts.

"Take care of her."

"What?"

"Take care of her," Harry muttered as they fell on the ground. "Take care of her. Swear to me."

And Draco realized that he was still alive even if they both landed on the ground.

But Harry was dying.

And Draco could see that he didn't want to live anymore.

"Hermione doesn't love me, Potter. The things you're saying are balderdash."

Harry managed a weak laugh as Draco neared him, wincing as his bleeding knee settled on something hard.

"I've seen the way she looks at you." Harry croaked.

"Lies."

Draco's heart pounded.

"Take the parchment out of my pocket."

Draco did so.

"What's this for?"

"Read it to her. Promise me."

"Of course, Potter," Draco said. "You saved my life after all."

"I'm glad I did."

"Why did you?"

"So you can satisfy that want you've always bet money for."

Draco reddened, remembering his childhood greed.

"Thanks."

"And for the prophecy."

"What prophecy?"

"If I die, Voldemort dies."

"Oh."

"Now, go to her. And leave me here."

Hermione ran to Harry's side later and wept, a consoling Draco stroking her back and she pushed him away, blaming him for his death.


"Mr. Malfoy?" the Minister said. "Mr. Malfoy?"

Draco awoke from the memory and realized he was back in the funeral and the Minister was staring at him questioningly.

Whispers and hisses filled the air once again and Draco sighed.

"What?"

"It's your turn to speak."

Screams of outrage and lawsuits were thundering in the crowd with a silent Hermione still avoiding his eyes.

"YOU MURDERER!" Molly screamed as he walked up the lector's stage. "YOU DON'T DESERVE TO GO UP ON THAT STAGE!"

"YOU VILE, EVIL SNAKE! YOU—"

Draco shut his eyes and when he opened them after, the crowd had frozen except for Hermione, who was still hunched down.

"What did you do?" Hermione locked eyes with him for the first time that night, her eyes glaring. "You can't just go freezing everyone…"

"Do you want to hear this or not?"

"Do I have a choice?"

Draco ignored her and ruffled open the parchment as Hermione settled down, her eyes now focused on her shoes and her legs crossed.

He inhaled deeply and began reading.

Hermione,

Do you remember the fireflies we kept in that jar two years ago for our Herbology project? I hope you still do. I remember distinctly your laugh when one got out of our grasp and flew right into your hair and you were screaming like hell while I was laughing my arse off at your misfortune.

He watched Hermione shut her eyes as if she was imagining his presence right there and then.

"Yes," she whispered, laughing softly. "I do remember."

But do you know what we did with them after?

"You let them go."

I let them go. I let them go right away and I remember you slapping me right after because it wasn't the right time yet. But, really, Hermione, when can you say that any time is the right time? Letting go is something you can't place on a calendar and plot the date of when you're going to finally loosen your strings and move on. No, because in one way or another we all get attached to something. And I know for a fact that we were both attached. We were more than best friends, Hermione. I was also in love with you.

Draco watched Hermione nod slowly, as if receiving his admission for the first time. He watched her face wrinkle up again, restraining her tears.

I don't blame you for being mad. I don't blame you for the anger you've held in inside you because of me. I remember the fights we had when you would complain about me pushing you away and I always denied it. And because of your impossible intelligence,

I knew I had to do something drastic. I had to avoid you even more because I knew that you would never forgive me for sacrificing my life for anyone, even for you.

But I do know for one thing that life may end but love doesn't. I may be gone, but I will love you forever and I will always be watching you from up here, beside you, always.

But you can't be mourning over me forever because you know what kind of a person I am: always seizing the moment and living life as if death would beckon me the next day. I don't want you to waste your life crying over something you can't do anything about.

Promise me, promise me you'll take chances like I did. Promise me you'll do something extraordinary everyday. Promise me you'll fall in love.

And I know that if you ask me why, I would simply laugh and reply with, "To show that lucky man what a wonderful person you are and whoever that man is, he should consider himself worthy to have your love, as I did with you."

So, what are you waiting for?

Hermione was crying silently and Draco felt his hands numbing by the minute.

But I believe in you, Hermione. You're a strong girl, always have been. Without you, I wouldn't have survived first year, second year, third year… basically my entire scholarly life if it wasn't for your brains. You changed me, Hermione, you did.

But now it's time to change someone else.

Believe in yourself, Hermione, like you helped me believe in myself.

Don't go searching too far though.

You never know, he may be just around the corner.

But I promise the one you'd always look at with the same passionate gaze you gave me when we first fell in love, I know that he will take care of you.

And you want to know why? Because I made him promise. And I know that you changed him too. Don't let him go.

That's the reason why I've been pushing you away.

So you have time to fall in love with someone new before it was too late.

Because you deserve it.

You deserve him.

I love you.

Now go on, love him.

–Harry

Draco exhaled and Hermione was stunned. He said it, Harry had said it, and it was over. He glanced at her again and the crowd unfroze, screaming insults and prison threats.

He could hear Requiem play, the melancholy notes reverberating in the hallowed chamber and he watched several more wizards enter in black garb, the women with dark, translucent veils covering their faces.

The walls were draped in fiery scarlet complimented with the fine hue of gold, the colors somewhat clashing. These colors did not look like this mismatched back in Hogwarts, he thought as he clutched that white vellum in his palm.

Molly was still screaming like a deranged banshee, Arthur was still harassed but he didn't care that all eyes were on him.

All that mattered was that now, she was finally looking at him again and it was as if all the barriers had been lifted, the cold front between them melted, their gazes locked, the hues of their irises colored with passion…

I could tell by the way she looks at you.