Because I hate loose ends ;)
"So this is what is has come to, yes?" Albus smiled solemnly in front of him. "Harry just went back…"
"Then all is as it should be, is it not?" Severus said silently. "It is what we worked for after all, all these years. Hoping to keep him alive…" And now he was. They had won. Yay. Celebrations were in order. Of course, of course… Severus could not feel it inside him. Instead he turned to face the window, hoping that he would see Hermione again.
He wanted to kiss her, he wanted her to kiss him like she when she had left him on the floor – only she hadn't exactly left him, had she. "I return." Had been her words and she would stick true to them, she'd come back. And then what? He was dead, wasn't he? His body was an empty shell, lying petrified on the floor of the Shrieking Shack.
"Yes." Albus said silently, and Severus turned his head back to him, answering his stare. "But was it really only ever that, Severus? We have kept him alive… but I must admit that… I regret many-a-thing."
He wished for a glass of whiskey, but the in-between would not grant him that wish as it had granted him the wish for clothes. Instead appeared in front of him a clear liquid in a tumbler that he immediately grabbed, holding it to his nose, still listening to Albus.
"I regret never having told Minerva what I really felt for her, Severus. All those years side by side and not once have I found the strength to say those words. I regret that I never dared to marry her, to make her an honorable woman – my honorable woman."
The liquid smelt faintly of Hermione, books, earth, sweat and the hint of roses and Severus drank the scent in with a grief-stricken face. This was the last good-bye to her. Albus, ignorant to his personal thoughts, rambled on and with the skill of a spy to take in several things at once, he listened, while he smelt Hermione.
"Severus, I regret that I pushed you the way I did. It is due to me that you shredded your soul, due to me that you stayed at the side of this monster – my fault that you labored for a lost love, did unspeakable crimes and sullied yourself."
"Albus, if you are then quite ready with explaining my life to me, I would like you to come to the point." Though even though it had been his intention to, the words came out without malice – he was surprised to find himself sounding broken. Albus, ever the infuriating old codger, smiled at him with his steely blue eyes.
"Your mask is no longer intact in this world, Severus, I am afraid – as is mine. But, Severus, what you need to understand about this in-between is that… you, much as Harry still have the choice to return."
Return? To Hermione?
"For as I understand and as I was told, what you hold in your hands is the essence of… a virgin, a gift given to you… willingly and in love."
Severus heart stopped as he watched the old man smile knowingly at him.
"You know the story of the one woman, Jeanne d'Arc if I remember correctly, who saved the one man she loved yet could never have."
"The Dauphin." Severus whispered.
"Indeed. As it is delivered-" Albus commenced, but Severus had read the legend himself.
"-they were soul mates and Joan as the gifted of the two knew this. The Dauphin fell madly in love with her and she acquiesced, hoping even though she knew that he would be married, to protect him, for her heart had decided for her and she gave her virginity to him, willingly and in love. It is said that even after her death, he could never be harmed lethally until his own time came."
The white-haired headmaster nodded. "And even before then, were three witches, at one time, creating the spell to begin with: Nimue, Gwynyfer and Morgane. Who loved their men against their fate and unknowingly wove spells to the lives of each, giving the only possession they truly had, willingly and in love. Merlin was never hurt, and would not Lancelot and Arthur have been in concurrence and their fates intertwined as well as the protective spells of a colliding nature they would have survived."
There was a short pause wherein Albus looked at the younger wizard with kind eyes. "It would seem, Severus, that whoever she is, you have captured yourself the heart of a witch who has read books so old and dusty that some would not even dare to touch them – and she must have read quite a lot of thick tomes to find the trail of this spell."
It was just what Severus could imagine Hermione do – wherever she went she had a book with her. Hell, she had even taken books on their Horcrux-hunt, on Spells, on Potions, Occlumency, Herbs, Creatures, Curses, Healing… short: on everything she had deemed essential. And with her beaded bag it was not difficult to transport them either.
Finally, he allowed himself a smile, trying to hide it as he sunk his head a little, hoping to keep this little outburst to himself. It felt so strange to smile after so many years – he felt as if marble would crack on his cheeks as he held on to the tumbler.
He had prayed for Hermione, had hoped that she would survive, but his witch – his clever and ever resourceful witch had found the one thing to keep him safe from harm, had given it all. She did not want to let him go. "I return." – she had said, and he believed her with all his heart. Hermione would come back, and she would call him back.
"Yes, she reads a lot." He finally said, daring to look up into the blue eyes of his mentor, finding him smiling.
"I would never have thought you'd go for the stupid ones, Severus." Albus said, and nodded towards the glass. "Drink it, and please, give my kindest regards to Miss Granger."
It tasted like Hermione at the brink.
He awoke in a large bed on a soft, plush mattress with silken linen. The room he found himself in was white, but he could tell by the smell that he was not in a hospital – it smelled like wood and sun, like sea even. Blinking a few times, he dared to open his eyes again, his vision cleared.
Wooden walls, reminiscent of French Romantic, painted white surrounded him in his large room. In front of him opened a window to the greens, ochres, and blues of the French coast and he smiled softly when his ears took in the far cries of sea-gulls.
Voices to his left had him try to turn his neck – trying, but finding that his injury had been worse than he had though at the in-between.
"-Hope she'll eat this time at least…" he heard the voice that belonged to Pansy Parkinson, who stepped into the room along with Luna.
"Her-" but Miss Lovegood stopped in the middle of the name. As he turned right – slowly, his mind chanted, very slowly – he found that Hermione had fallen asleep in a chair at his side. She looked pale and gaunt, but at sleep, she looked a lot more peaceful.
"Professor Snape…" Pansy whispered, but Severus shook his head.
"Severus, please, Miss Parkinson." He whispered back, and found that he could hardly talk any louder anyways. "I daresay we've been through enough together for the two of you to address me with my first name as well."
He received a slow smile of the witch, who in turn nodded. "Pansy and Luna, then." Said his former Slytherin, continuing to tip-toeing closer to Hermione.
"She hasn't left your side." Luna whispered. "We are in France, at the Lovegood Cottage. Our stay has an expiring date, but for now we are safe. The house is secret-kept. Father did not live to tell and I am the only one who else knows."
Severus nodded relieved and sunk back into the cushions, his eyes gliding to Pansy, who hovered over Hermione, checking her with a few simple spells. She smiled when she finished and went back to Luna's side. "She'll sleep it off, Severus, no worries. When she'll wake up she'll be angry that we haven't told her you're awake, but we'll take the brunt for that. Do you want anything?"
He found that he needed nothing at all. Luna checked him quickly and he found that he still liked being at the receiving end of her smooth healing magic. No wonder he hadn't woken up any earlier, it felt hardly any different than a soft trickle of water.
"You're fine. We are going to leave you to it. I'd be delighted if you would yet refrain from using your magic. If you need anything, please feel free to ask Peetey for it. Bye, Severus."
And therewith the two witches disappeared out of the door again, leaving Severus to watch Hermione as she slept in the chair next to his bed. Happiness spread through his chest as he watched her, living and breathing, next to him, here, somewhere else but Britain – the war was over, they were alive.
"You should have woken me up!" she protested, but she could not help the grin that spread on her cracked lips when she found Severus staring up at her with his black, deep orbs. From the window Fawkes and her black companion chirped softly, soothing her ruffled feelings and the tears that had welled up.
"You worked yourself to a cripple, Hermione," Pansy said softly, "and he would have probably hexed us if we would have woken you from your peaceful slumber. And he's alive, so stop badgering, we should start for earnest now with his healing."
She could still not stop the smile on her face when she saw Severus nod carefully at Pansy's words, his eyes still on her. Half an hour ago Hermione had still thought it a dream that Severus lay next to her, awake and smiling.
"Yes." She whispered finally. "Yes, we should really start. We need to get him going soon."
"Oh, look at that!" Pansy screeched, throwing the Prophet through the kitchen, startling his owl who quickly fled in his direction, taking shelter. "Those little bastards! Stupid bints! Next time they can kill Voldie-Moldie all on their own!"
Liberté, Fraternité, Égalité?
Tom Riddle, biggest megalomaniac has been defeated – finally, once and for all, as witnesses report. Women, of all things, are said to have been the downfall of the evil mastermind.
Read the almost-impossible report about the Final Battle on Page 3!
"They enflame within me the desire to put the press to print again." Luna mulled poetically and Severus smirked into his toast when Hermione opened the indicated page.
"Skeeter is such a dung-beetle, I swear if I ever get that man into my clutches, he will not survive a day." She seethed.
"The three ominous heroes vanished straight from the battlefield. Are we dealing with a secret underground organization? 'Underground?' smiles Harry Potter, relieved finally, his eyes glittering wetly. 'The DA might have been an underground movement at first, but we became official this year.' It appears that the kidnapper Hermes Granger would be the head of the DA, initiator as well as organizer – a strategic mastermind? But why flee? The answer is quite obvious. 'I never knew that Mister Granger was a Miss Granger!' relays to us an excited Charms-professor."
Severus snorted and made a grab for the Prophet, easily balling it up and throwing it with perfect aim into the open stove. "Forget it." he said silently. His voice had been improving thanks to the potions he was fed daily, as well as the constant energy the three witches put into him, aiming to heal as much as possible. "Skeeter will make you dubious heroes – he'll roll up the whole quarrel about women becoming witches with all its facets. He'll spin the biggest story ever told out of your actions."
Hermione's face twisted. "I still have money on my account in Gringotts." She ground. "I'd like to have it…"
Pansy waved her hand dismissively. "Hermione, whatever country we go to, the goblins will take care of your money. They never let wizards interfere with their business and their customers are too important to them. Especially… since you have the perfect bribe." she pointed at the sword of Gryffindor.
"It is Goblin-made and Goblins will want it back – wherever you go, they will want it. Their sense of possession differentiates from our sense of possession. We think something belongs to us, when we buy it. Goblins however, think that it is theirs because they made it, and they lend it to the buyer only for the time of his life. Then they will want it back. So… if you strike up the bargain for our money, against the sword… then I'm sure you'll have a deal no sooner than you can blink."
He watched as Hermione undressed in front of him.
The day of the battle itself seemed to have passed her by largely. He could not find a lot more scars than he'd already discovered on her, but she still looked at him with those huge, golden eyes – insecurity sparkling in them, fuelling in Severus the wish to hold her close and say nothing.
Stepping towards her, he reached for her cheek, gently cradling it, stroking the soft flesh fervently, their twin-sighs intertwined as they closed their eyes.
So soft, so lovely… he'd never thought he'd see her again, much less feel her, experience her. But the last few weeks had been heaven. Awaking next to Hermione, being treated with respect and camaraderie for the first time he could remember, open laughs, and a healing of the war that involved heart-to-hearts. Severus experienced openness, trust and unwavering loyalty – love in a way that he had not known. And of course Hermione – in all her shining colours.
"You are so beautiful." He whispered as he kissed her front awkwardly – his neck was still stiff mostly. "Not a scar mars you, every single one of them decorates you; not a woman on this earth or any other could ever compare to you; sometimes I feel unworthy of you – and then you just shine more bright to me, luring me to you, like a moth to light." She sighed softly into his gentle embrace, and he could tell that she listened to his every word, letting it sink through her skin right to the cracks in her soul that she had not been able to knit yet. "And I will gladly be the moth that forever flies towards you."
"I thought about America." Pansy said dreamily. Stroking Fawkes head, the Phoenix purred contentedly, pushing her head into the hands of the young witch, hoping to earn more caresses.
They were perched around the kitchen-table brainstorming on where to take their leave to. International Portkeys were no longer surveyed and they would be able to travel unhindered.
"I thought about Japan." Luna said. "So many things to learn."
It was Hermione's turn and Severus watched as his witch chewed on her lower lip, as she always did when something would spout out of that ingenious brain of hers. Luna and Pansy had both noticed, but they'd kept up their routine, having learned – as had Severus – that asking Hermione to spill it already, would only close her off, sometimes even lose her train of thought.
When she spoke up, her voice was silent and she did not look at anyone at the table. "I thought about opening a school for witchcraft." She whispered.
He was surprised just how heavily Luna and Pansy reacted – their eyes lit up with fire, their faces split into utmost happiness as smiles spread over them and they turned to Hermione. Cries of 'Brilliant!' and 'Yes! Why not?' flew through the room. Shyly Hermione glanced up, meeting Severus' eyes.
"Do you really think? It will be a lot of work… and where do we get the witches from?"
Severus smirked. "A magical feather writes down the name of every wizard born… I am sure that a feather can be charmed to do the same thing for witches, do you not think? It will be a magical masterpiece, surely, but it is doable nevertheless." He inserted his intelligence.
Hermione blushed, while Luna and Pansy giggled. "Oh, please – that sounds awesome, Hermione. Think of all the witches! Finally someone doing something for the young girls! We could start anew! Shatter the pure-blood ideas!"
"But where?" Hermione asked, still insecure. "How to organize? How do we get teachers? Who would willingly do something like that? What about the funding? The international acceptance?"
Severus shook his head. "Who needs international acceptance, Hermione, when you are skilled and taught? First you need to educate witches, then send them out in the world, let them show what they can do, create their networks – acceptance will be a long way, still, but a school to enable girls with magical talent to become witches is a grand step. And you killed Voldemort, that has to count for something doesn't it? And you're friends with Harry Potter and Ronald Weasley. Kingsley was a first-row witness when you defeated the… nuisance." The black Phoneix, who had no name until now, pushed its' head against his in a consoling manner, feeling as did the rest of the room that some things would still be hard to overcome.
Slowly the witch's eyes started to gleam with something else but insecurity – the idea took hold in her mind, developed itself and unfolded its true potential.
"America would be perfect for it. Great Britain is, unfortunately, too traditional for such a school – and they would be able to influence too many European countries. Japan would be too far away unfortunately, but America – we speak the same language and they are large enough that, would Britain want to protest, America would be a considerable adversary. Furthermore, once they accepted us there, we would be able to have access to their networks as well – and their networks are good, very good."
"Not possible." Pansy breathed when she hid behind the curtain again, hoping somehow that what she had seen did not coincide with reality.
"Pansy?" Hermione had appeared next to her, trying to find out what had put her friend in so much distress.
"Don't!" Pansy whispered panicked, drawing her friend back from the window. "Don't look outside." She said again – Hermione' face went from interested to concerned in a matter of milliseconds.
"Pansy what is going on? Who is there?" Her friend wrestled out of her grip and danced to the window, stealing a glance outside and gasping all the same.
"Oh…" she moaned softly – only the slightest sound – as she perceived the young man outside the door, pacing the door-mat, obviously debating with himself whether to knock or not. Pansy herself was torn about it – would she want him to knock? What if he did? What if he didn't?
Hermione took over for her.
Breathless a young woman opened the door for him, staring at him with huge, whiskey-coloured eyes, much as he stared back at her.
"You can come in, or you can stay outside." She said in a soft voice that held nor threat nor ill as she stepped softly away from the door, allowing him to choose still. He was a wizard, though, wasn't he? And so Draco took a deep breath and brushed past the young, curly-haired woman into the small house.
"Please, sit." She said amicably, and he did as told, still not having said a word. "How can I help you?"
For the first time, Draco looked up at her and found that he had to answer her, but knew not exactly what he should say. "I… is… I… Ummm…"
Helplessly he stuttered around for minutes, the eyes of the young woman warming with compassion as he sought the words. "Do you search for someone?" she asked silently as she sat down and he nodded silently, glad in his own way that he did not need to talk.
"A man?" she asked.
"Several." He croaked – the first word he'd said. Finally. She smiled at him with her warm, familiar eyes and her wild mane, gently coaxing him into relaxation.
"Here lives only one man, but I am relatively sure that he will be able to help you, sit back, he is here in a minute." She vanished with silent steps and Draco swallowed – now alone. He had somehow expected this to be different – after all it had been Xenophilius who'd given him the address and had told him to remember it.
"Always remember it, Draco – who knows, perhaps one day you will need it." The blond had smiled at him good-naturedly and patted his shoulder.
But Xenophilius was dead now and the whereabouts of his daughter were unknown – and this cottage was secret-kept. He was surprised that even someone was here. But then again, the young woman seemed to have known what he sought.
The familiar voice tore him out of his musings and as if electrified he jumped up to see that, indeed, the familiar voice belonged to the one man he associated it with. "Severus." A smile cracked his fine features. "Uncle Severus."
"What do you think he needs?" Pansy asked silently as the three witches watched Severus and Draco walk the large garden, Fawkes sitting constantly on Draco's shoulder, nudging his head and singing soft tunes ever so often.
"Father must have told him the address." Luna sighed silently – Hermione listened. "My aunt was the secret-keeper, but she was killed a few months ago, and there was only me and dad, remaining knowledgeable of it. If Draco knew where to find this cottage, then Dad must have told him – he probably wanted to give it to someone… perhaps he deemed him innocent, a child, like me."
"We are pretty much, children." Hermione mused silently. "We're twenty after all – what more could you possibly call us?"
Pansy nodded, following the familiar movements of Draco's stride with her eyes. He looked fairly good – still pale, but hardly any scars, no inhibited movement, and so far also no after attacks of a Curse. She wondered indeed what he could possibly want here.
"How do you feel, Pansy?" Hermione's soft voice asked her and she knew that somehow she did not talk about her current thoughts, but something that neither of the witches had ever addressed during times of war.
"Torn. I still… feel towards him, but I realize that I am, indeed, a witch. I may not be what he looks for, but that does not hinder my heart from hoping."
Gently her friends lay their heads on her shoulder in silent support, the black phoenix purred softly. Heart matters had never been discussed before amongst them – mostly because they were also often matters of weakness and they had not been able to afford weaknesses. But now that they healed their mental scars from the war, they found more often than not that the heart was as important a matter as the wand-skill they had acquired.
Luna's stomach grumbled and Hermione giggled next to her, Pansy smiled. "Shall we cook then?" she asked silently, "For five?" she added more to herself than to anyone else, before a smile lit up her face. "Why not."
"You know where they are, don't you, Severus?" Draco asked silently. "They're sought all over Great Britain, along with you. I do not know if the rumours are true, few people can say, but they are sought all over Britain, add to that their helping you, who is still not cleared."
The blond's eyes were cast down as he shook his head grimly. "Father and mother are both in Azkaban, lifelong for their… choices; disowned me in order to free me. I don't know where to turn to, Severus. I came here to find peace and found you with three young women…" he smirked at that, and his Uncle returned the smile. He waited for an answer of the older man.
"Draco, there are things that would need to be cleared amongst the three of you – but I will be forward anyways and offer you to come with us. We are moving to America as soon as I am healthy enough to travel and they have… grand plans in which I wish dearly to be involved."
He followed Severus' gaze to the young woman who had welcomed him into the house. "You love her, don't you?" he asked silently and the dark-haired man smiled softly.
"I owe her my life, Draco. If not for her then the Snake would have done me in." he was about to add something to the sentence, but shook his head. "I cannot tell you a lot concerning the three of them. They are… wandering mysteries even to me sometimes, and I have had some time to get to know them now. But their story is theirs to tell. I you so wish, I will arrange a parlay between the five of us – there's a lot I still don't know myself, that I would be curious to hear."
Draco nodded. "I would very much like to stay with you, uncle." Severus smiled at him and put his hand around his shoulder.
"Then come on, nephew, help a cripple back into the secure shades of the house."
"I told you to take care of the sun." the curly-haired woman chided softly as she brushed her hand over the burnt flesh of Severus' face, applying a potion. "Why do you not make use of the potion we've brewn?"
Draco listened up, but stayed silent. "I forgot." He heard his godfather admit groaning and the woman laughed softly – a tinkling sound that reminded Draco of Christmas bells.
"The grand Severus Snape, master-spy, forgetting to imbibe a potion? Surely you are jesting." She mocked and by the way that Severus' eyes lit up, Draco could tell that he enjoyed the slight jabbing at his reputation.
"I believe, dearest, that my days here have made me quite mellow." He sighed as she finished healing his sun-burnt face. "Thank you. I really can't wait for the day I'll be able to heal myself again though." He looked at her wistfully, but she shook her head.
"No can do, Severus. We are all of the opinion that you should still wait – it's not that we don't trust you, we all know that you're capable of controlling your magic, but we don't know how much of the venom is still inhibiting your channels."
Draco watched the three women closely over the meal. They felt familiar, but he could not quite place them, especially since he was sure that he'd never seen them, and he was sure that he'd be able to remember three such extraordinary women.
"Severus said that you would like to discuss the probability of you travelling with us?" the blond woman sighed softly as she ate the last of her soup, floating the plate from the table to the sink, as she stood to fetch the main course.
All of a sudden, even though the small crowd around him was mature enough not to stare at him, he felt panicky – like he had when he had entered the house the first time. "Uh, yes. I… I would like to stay at his side for the next few years and he indicated that he would go where you would go, so that in turn would mean that, yes, I would like to discuss the probability of travelling with you."
He was relieved to find that, once he talked, it was easy to do so – the faces of the women lit up when he finished his sentence with the usual smoothness of a Malfoy. The brown-haired woman nodded shortly when she faced the two looks of her companions.
"We will discuss this after dinner, then." The blonde chirped happily, before she served the Steak with vegetables and rice.
Pansy looked positively nervous – Hermione could tell, but she had agreed that they would talk with Draco and ultimately that would involve revealing their fake identities that they had carried so long.
"Are you really alright with that?" she asked her friend one last time – but the brunette nodded only, as she charmed the plates to fly back to their assigned places.
"I know that his wand still works for him," she said silently, "and I know that it has a unicorn-string core. So that means that he is still innocent, in magical means. He is a Slytherin though and even though I know that house-allegiances should be pushed aside, especially in our case, I wonder what he will do once he knows…"
Indeed, Hermione, too, had wondered how Draco would react. They had collided often enough and Draco even owed her a Life Debt… or at least, Hermes Granger. What would he say to Severus and her?
"I think we should give him a shot. War changed people – even us. Why not Malfoy? And what about his parents?"
Hermione and Pansy both bit their lips. Severus had told them what he had allowed them to know… and it had probably also been a strategic move to tell them that Draco's parents were now in Azkaban, from where they would no more go.
"As I see it, we are four and he is one – in the worst of cases." Luna said. "But we should at least give him a chance, before we judge him. Even if we fear for our heart."
Pansy positively blanched.
"Draco… may I call you that?" Severus' girlfriend asked him, the black phoenix on her shoulder – he nodded wordlessly, interested in what they would want to tell him that would be of such great an importance that they had had Severus confiscate his wand.
"You get your wand back in a minute – I wouldn't put it past you to know basic wandless spells anyways. So… here we go."
And in front of his eyes happened what he had not believed any report. Three young women word- and wandlessly transformed into Parcival Parkinson, Lysander Lovegood and Hermes Granger. The three looked at him for a moment, before transforming back into their original form.
"My name is Hermione Granger – and I would like to present to you, Luna Lovegood and Pansy Parkinson."
He was stumped with the way that all three of them looked at him with masked eyes, much as Severus looked when he had his walls up and in place – much as he had looked when he had been at war still. Especially Pansy looked stony.
"…witches." Pansy finished the sentence for him. He remembered Parcival doing that sometimes for him or any of the other Slytherins, as if he knew what they wanted to say but couldn't quite get over their tongues.
And suddenly Draco laughed out loud – everything clicked into place, absolutely everything. He laughed whole-heartedly, before he somewhat calmed himself and looked at Hermione. "No wonder you became so vicious when I tried to disrobe you." He laughed again, and out of the corner of his eyes, he could even see Severus quirk a small smile – the witch blushed slightly.
"I still hadn't gotten down my whole glamour back then. If you'd have done me in like Neville that one time I would have been revealed – and I couldn't need that." She admitted.
Calm again, he watched one woman after the after, still completely flabbergasted with what reality had revealed to him. "No wonder you've held together. We all wondered if perhaps you had some sort of really strange relationship amongst each other."
Luna shrugged. "Better they thought we were gay than they knew we were women." The three of them smiled shrewdly before another thought struck him.
"But what about Meredius?" he asked.
"Marlene." Hermione corrected him, her smile taking on a sad note. "We thought it was more prudent to leave her at Hogwarts. She was pureblooded after all, she spied on Harry, sent reports to us, kept the DA going… She was so close…"
Silence fell over the small party, and Severus and Draco both shot each other looks, thinking of the last moments of the brave young woman, who'd held her glamours even in the face of Death.
"Why did you do it?" Draco asked finally. "I mean – why did you come here in the first place? Why fight Vo-Voldemort? Why aid Potter? Why all of this to unveil your identity and then have to flee?" he wondered silently.
Hermione smiled softly. "My brother should have went to Hogwarts – but I was the one with magic… And the moment this world, the world I had chosen for myself instead of the world I came from, was threatened, I knew I'd do everything to defend it."
Luna sighed softly. "I had a twin… he passed away and when the letter arrived nevertheless I enrolled myself. I always wanted to aspire to something bigger than just a house-wife… but I couldn't tell father… never found the courage…"
Pansy hugged her friend close to herself, as she prepared her small sentence. "I invented Parcival, wrote a letter in my father's name that we hadn't received a letter, got it and went to school. Father never found out, but mother did, but promised that she would keep silent. She died unfortunately…"
"And then… when we came here, we just kind of slipped into everything." Hermione smiled. "Luna and I wanted to keep Potter from getting the Philosopher's Stone, but found that we couldn't quite, so we helped along. We became confidantes in his second year, as well as his third year. Harry...", the witch frowned, "Harry and I went separate ways in fourth year, but he came to me, asking for help, because that's what he's always done, and even when the school shunned me he did, so we continued helping, fifth year I taught him… some new things that he needed-"
"-Occlumency." Severus interrupted and Draco stared at the smug smile of the magician. "You taught him Occlumency and plundered me in the process. I was told to teach him only by December, but by then he could already form a resistance… to obvious attacks anyways."
Hermione seemed to glower for a moment, but Luna simply took up the story, where Hermione had told it. "We went to get the Prophecy and Cho… passed away, unfortunately, we had to bury her. And in sixth year… well, it became pretty clear what we should do. Harry would have never started the DA if it wouldn't have been for us to initiate it. We've trained amongst ourselves for years but realized that with the starting war the rest of the students would at least want to defend themselves. And by the end… when Dumbledore died, we fled, leaving Harry to take care of himself, he was safest in Hogwarts and by then people still believed that he would be able to defeat Voldemort a second time…"
He could not sleep that night and instead went down into the garden to wander past the two sleeping phoenixes and amongst the moon-lit roses and herbs that Helen Lovegood had planted so long ago. His mind was still reeling of the stories he had been told, of everything he had heard of the witches, of everything that had been going on right beneath his nose but that he had never known.
Severus was alive and Draco knew that this was solely the merit of the three witches, and probably mostly Hermione, who hadn't told that story yet, but he could feel it by the way that Severus cherished her and by the way she doted on him. The strangest thing about it all was that the witch did not even care about the, still visible, Dark Mark on his arm.
Quite on the contrary, as it appeared. Severus had been running around with short-sleeved shirts to get some 'healthy colour' as Hermione put it – and none of the witches ever cared about it. There was no hidden sneer of disgust, or glint of fear in their eyes whenever he walked amongst them and he'd even seen Hermione touch it as she stood on her tip-toes to kiss Severus.
His uncle had found the acceptance that he'd always sought, he'd found the love that Lily Potter had denied him and he had found the one person who saw him – not for a spy, not for a war-hero, but for Severus Snape, all his errors, vices and virtues – and had accepted him for who he was, even let him into her heart to nest there.
Draco was afraid of his own Mark. He dared not to look at it, lest even touch it. When he showered, he closed his eyes to it and when he dressed, he always dressed in long sleeves, no matter the temperature. True, he had not murdered, he had – luckily, and thankfully to Severus – been excluded from the grimmer parts of the raids. The parts where rape was included, be it of the living or the dead and the parts where children were tortured and killed, simply because their screams were music to sick men's hearts. But he carried the Mark – he'd made the decision that had been wrong, he would have raped and killed in the end, perhaps, if only to save his life.
"Couldn't sleep either, could you?"
He hadn't watched where his feet had carried him, but realized that he had reached the small pond Helen had created, full of sea-roses and small frogs probably and Xenophilius – or Luna already – might have added strange creatures to it. On the wooden footbridge that ended in about the middle of the pond, Draco perceived Pansy, her figure illuminated by blinking fireflies around her.
"I'm sorry to disturb you…" she said silently, when he didn't answer – he found that sometimes he still felt surmounted by the things that happened around him.
"What are you doing?" he asked instead, hoping that somehow this stilted advance to a conversation would not set her off – Parcival had seen him at his heights, and he'd seen him at his lowest. He could even remember crying in front of him once… what did Pansy think of all this?
She smiled kindly and motioned him closer. "Only some magic." She said as he sat down next to her. Silently she stretched her arm over the water and smiled brightly, when slender domes rose out of the pond, weaving through the air in patterns, creating figures and animals as she wove whole stories into her creations.
Draco lay down and watched the spectacle above him, feeling, for once, a small spark of peace settling within his heart – spreading slowly.
At this note... I will end my quest.
This story has been... interesting to write. It's been so long, I feel, since I've truly written something longer and while I felt like a cad these last few weeks for having finished the story and not having uploaded it, I certainly feel... accomplished right now.
I want to thank all of you dear readers who supported me and strengthened my belief in myself - I need some time to convince myself that my stories are worthy to be read, usually and jumped into the cold water with this one and then it developed a life of its own and you all just took it as it was and praised the story and encouraged me. Thank you so much.
This has been fun... I hope I may find something as equally entertaining in the near future - mayhaps there'll be other stories ;)