AN: So, it finally comes to the time to say goodbye. As I have announced, I will no longer be posting on ff. net after this. It's been an amazing journey with you all, not just with this story, but with all of my stories here. Thank you so much! *hugs*

I hope you will enjoy final chapter of 7 First Kisses.

7 First Kisses
by leopion

A True First

A new day had begun. Without him. She'd never had time to think about it before, but Hermione knew she was supposed to feel happy and alive, not numb and desolate. For a moment, she wished they could just repeat the first of May forever. Just the two of them. So that she could look forward to meeting him every day in the Room of Requirement, look forward to their first kiss, look forward to being surprised each time by him or by her own forwardness.

That was beyond her grasp now. After all, she was nothing compared to the ancient magic. She could not do anything without it nor to it. It had been a miracle, this thing they had shared. But it had ended. Time had turned back for her to save the others, but it hadn't for her to save him. She recalled the time when she berated him for wanting to give up before the day was over. But wasn't she just as helpless this time? Only the magic of her wish had the power of overwriting reality. Neither Time-Turners nor the spell that Draco had mentioned could break the continuity of time. In third-year, she and Harry had been able to save Sirius only because he hadn't been Kissed. But Draco had been struck by the Killing Curse. Nothing could save him now.

Hermione was vaguely aware of something brushing past her. Surmising that it was the wind, she leaned on the arch and sank to the ground again. She paused at the clattering sound in her jacket pocket. It should have been empty. Hermione slid her hand into the pocket and felt a familiar cool touch of metal. Taking the object out for inspection, she was surprised to see her watch. Hadn't she lost it in the forest less than an hour ago? She had even accused Draco of Vanishing it. Maybe he'd put it into her pocket, and it had been there all this time. But if that was the case, shouldn't she have felt it there long before now?

Hermione racked her brain for a plausible explanation. It didn't seem like an important detail, but she wanted a distraction, anything to forget the pain. Why did her watch disappear an hour ago? She always kept it on her wrist. It seemed as though someone had summoned it from her and only returned it to her pocket now. It couldn't have been Draco, but then who? And why?

The watch in Hermione's hand irritated her, its ticking a constant reminder that time was passing and couldn't be turned back. Unless ... There was only one type of object in the whole scenario that could not be duplicated when the time-turning spell was activated: the clocks. Draco had told her that the representation of the timeline could not exist in two places at once, which meant once the future versions arrived, their past counterparts had to disappear. Her watch had vanished just before the final battle. Hermione's heart fluttered in her chest. This could only mean one thing: she'd gone back, using it as one of the clocks. Hermione shook her head. Maybe it was just wishful thinking. If she had saved him by going back in time, then he would never have died in the first place. How was that possible? She had seen—Wait a minute! She had never seen the Killing Curse hit him. What if it had missed in the first place? In that case, where had it gone? A Shield Charm used in defence was improbable as the rebounding curse would have been too obvious for an entire hall of people to overlook. But if it had come into contact with something, then the object would have exploded. But wait. The table behind Draco and his mother had been blasted into pieces. Come to think of it, if they'd truly smashed into the object from the force of the Killing Curse, then it was strange that Narcissa hadn't suffered from any severe injury after the blow. What if someone had made them fly towards the table to make it seem like a collision? That might just be enough to fool the onlookers.

Even though this conjecture was sketchy at best, Hermione knew she couldn't afford to hesitate. She headed straight for the library, hoping to find the book Draco had read on the time-travel spell. Naturally, the more time that elapsed, the harder it would be to come back. If Hermione had indeed travelled back in time, she needed to perform the spell as soon as possible.

After bumping into a few students and muttering various excuses on her way, Hermione decided to pop into one of the classrooms to Disillusion herself. She took the clock hanging on the wall there and also managed to get a few others from different rooms on her way to the library.

To Hermione's relief, the book and even the chapter she needed weren't hard to find, given that she knew exactly what she was looking for. She pored over the page, her mind racing to reconcile the theory with her own situation. Her belief was cemented as she read the explanation on how the clocks served as markers of the affected space and thus must remain unique. Draco had been right. That meant the reason for her watch's disappearance was because it had to be elsewhere, at the place where the future Hermione cast the spell.

She studied the instructions carefully. The number of clocks that one needed in order to perform this spell depended on how long the caster wished to turn back. Hermione still remembered vividly the last time she'd checked her watch before its disappearance: 3:52, which meant she had to go back about an hour and fifteen minutes. Hermione thanked the heavens that she'd had the foresight to bring as many clocks as she could and therefore was not in any shortage now. Hermione carefully placed the clocks she'd collected on her journey and her watch around herself so that they made a perfect cross with her in the centre.

'Concentration is the key,' she murmured to herself. Inhaling deeply, Hermione swished her wand in a circular motion and recited the incantation. The second hands of the clocks began swivelling madly backward, and all the air around her seemed to be forced into forming a howling cyclone.

As the last tick of the clocks resounded through the silent room, Hermione collapsed into a heap on the floor, breathing heavily. She stretched out one arm to reach for the watch and turned its dial towards her: 3:55, and the hands were moving clockwise like they should be. At least, she had achieved her first success.

Although her body refused to get up, Hermione couldn't let her mind rest. She needed to figure out how she could save Draco. Supposing that she could stage the scene of the Killing Curse hitting him, how could she hide the fact that he was still mostly unharmed? She couldn't count on the impact of the crash to knock him out cold while his mother—who was in a more dangerous position—remained conscious. Then, was it possible that Narcissa had faked the death of her own son to save him? Given Hermione's encounter with Draco's ghost, though, could it be the spell which temporarily separated the soul from the body that she had not dared to use on Harry? Was Narcissa willing to risk it?

Hermione didn't have time to think further as Voldemort's proclamation of Harry Potter's death resonated through the castle. She struggled to her feet and cast a Disillusionment Charm on herself again. Although the spell had left her exhausted, Hermione sprinted as fast as she could to the Great Hall. She had to be there in time.

Once she'd gotten to her destination, it was almost impossible not to be overwhelmed by the chaos. After much difficulty, she eventually found a niche in the wall close to where Draco must have been before the curse. From where she stood hiding, she could spot him pulling his mother into a close embrace. Hermione gripped her wand tightly. Her mind was still muddled. She could get them out of the way of the Killing Curse, but if Draco ever attempted to get up—Her thought was interrupted by Harry shouting the incantation for the Shield Charm that would protect Molly. Hermione only had seconds to ready herself. As soon as Harry materialised in front of them all, Voldemort's raised wand immediately turned towards Narcissa, and Draco plunged himself towards her. Hermione's spell reached them before the cruel green light did, when it narrowly brushed past Draco's shoulder and slammed into the table behind.

Hermione's heart soared. With her eyes fixed on Draco the entire time, she was able to see his hand twitch even among the wreckage. He was alive! But if anyone else saw this, it would ruin everything. Why hadn't Narcissa acted? At that moment, the implication suddenly became crystal clear in Hermione's head. Her wand still pointing at Draco, she muttered, 'Libera Animus!'

His hand went limp just before his mother's scream echoed through the Hall. Hermione directed her attention to her past self, who had just turned around with a mixture of shock and grief on her face. Everything was turning out as Hermione remembered, as it should be. She let out a sigh of relief. She had saved him after all. The day did not repeat not because he wasn't her loved one. It was because he had never died.


'Finite Incantatem!'

Draco's ghost-like figure vanished as Hermione ended the enchantment. It took her past self a moment to realise that he was gone. The past Hermione murmured his name, tears running down her cheeks. Outside, dawn was breaking as she opened her eyes and called out Draco's name again. That was when present Hermione knew she needed to act. Reinforcing the Disillusionment Charm, she came out of her hiding place. She walked by as quietly as she could and slid the watch into the jacket pocket of the other Hermione, who was too paralysed by grief to notice.

Now she only had to wait. Hermione watched her own expression turn from anguished to surprised to thoughtful and then determined. Her lips curled up in a smile when the past Hermione sped off in the direction of the library.

She went back to the Great Hall. Seeing him hugging his parents caused a strange warmth to envelop her heart. Again, Hermione felt she did not have the right to interfere. She merely walked past them. The exhaustion was setting in. She should probably go back to Gryffindor tower for a good sleep.

'Not staying to celebrate with your friends, Granger?'

Hermione's stomach did a somersault. He had followed her even though he probably thought their encounter in the hallway was just a dream. Was he just keeping up the facade, not knowing where she stood? Or were they truly back to where they had started now that everything had returned to normal?

'Draco!' His name still sounded clumsy on her tongue, but at the same time, it felt right. He must have heard her because he stopped in his tracks, surprise written all over his face. However, Hermione knew that at this moment, there was something much more important than an explanation.

She walked up to him with a small smile. 'You are one of my loved ones, Draco. I know that now.'

'I am?' he asked, as though hardly believing his ears. Before her courage disappeared, Hermione raised up on tiptoes and reached for his lips, her cheeks flaming. Would he turn her away? His answer was all she could hope for.

They finally broke apart, gasping for air. 'This,' murmured Hermione, 'is truly our first k—'

She never finished her sentence, for Draco had pulled her in for their first and only 'second kiss'.

Fin.

AN: And that's it. Again, thank you so much for all the wonderful support during my time here. I hope we'll still be able to meet again on some other archives (the details are all on my profile in case you need them).

Although this is my last time at fanfiction. net, I will still continue writing. In fact, I've already started a new story called Undiscovered, though it's not posted here due to my retirement from the site. As a bit of self-promotion, this piece is a DH EWE, Dramione murder mystery. I do have to warn that there will be a lot of angst, pshychological trauma and a main charater death, but if you're still interested, please check it out on Hawthorn and Vine under my pen name leopion.

I will miss you all.

Lots and lots of love,
Leo