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Chapter 15: Saving the Damsel - part two
"TELL ME WHERE SHE IS!"
Draco slammed Nott into the wall so hard that he thought he heard a few bones crack. Good, he deserves it. Nott laughed insanely, leaving the platinum seeing red.
"Now, now Malfoy, temper ,temper. Wouldn't want to end up like your father now would we?" Even being crushed against the wall wasn't enough to stop the snide, goading remarks to escape Theodore Nott's lips.
Draco growled and raised his spare fist to strike Nott in the face.
In an instant, Harry had grabbed at the hand and pulled the Slytherin Prince off of the waste of space, his head shaking slightly.
"We're not allowed to hurt him; it's the rules. Askaban is torture enough without them getting beaten bloody. Why do you think I made sure there were no more Dementors stationed here?" There was another reason Harry wanted rid of the creatures. Once Daphne Greengrass had received the kiss, Nott had gone on the rampage that killed Ron and Hermione had fled, leaving Harry alone to deal with the death of his best friend and distraught would-be wife. It was then that he realised that the Dementors kiss had more casualties than just the receiver and had vowed that it would never be given again while he was an Auror.
Draco looked into the eyes of the man he once considered his enemy and showed him how much pain the passing hours were causing him, how every waking moment without Hermione was slowly killing him inside, but was disheartened by the stern gaze Harry gave him.
"I know Draco, but if we waste time beating him then we have to waste time fixing him and that’s not something I want to do with Hermione still out there.” Harry looked towards the crazy person who had killed his best friend and he grimaced “No matter how much this guy deserves it.”
At the sound of her name, Draco resigned himself. It was taking too long, everything was taking too long and he was getting further and further away from the love of his life. Harry nodded as he saw the Blonde relent and patted him on the shoulder, before turning towards the man who had caused so much pain to his family. He knew what Draco was feeling; he wanted Hermione safe just as much as Draco did but they had to go about this right and that was why Harry did something that made him physically shiver in disgust. He gave Nott a choice.
“Look Nott, you’re in here for life and there is nothing I can do to change that; actually there is nothing I would do to change that,” Nott glared at Harry but the Boy Wonder held up his hand so that he could finish, “However, if you tell us everything, and I mean everything, I will promise you that I will authorise it personally that you get the sleeping draft.”
Nott’s eyebrows raised in surprise at Harry’s gesture, Draco, on the other hand, looked confused.
“Why on earth would that be any use to him?”
Harry held Nott’s gaze without blinking to show how he serious he was, and responded with, “It’s something that knocks you out for about eleven, maybe thirteen hours of the day while giving the witch or wizard an alternate reality…an internal way out.”
A light-bulb went off as Draco realised what Harry meant. He never really has to live the torture of being stuck in here.
The prisoner bit his lip nervously, unsure to accept or decline, his eyes darting between the two men in front of him. It was a blessing in so many ways that any other captive would immediately jump at the lifeline Harry was offering. Nott wasn’t any other prisoner; he was mad and he had always been dangerous, his passion for killing and torture overcame everything, especially after he lost Daphne. Draco wasn’t even sure he wanted Potter give this ‘man’ a way out…not after everything he had done. And yet, he still waited as he watched Nott get more and more agitated as he stared into Harry’s unyielding emerald green stare.
“You’ve got five seconds to decide, otherwise we’re out of here and I can promise you: you will not get an opportunity like this EVER again and you will rot here in this miserable cell without. 5…4…3…2…”
“Alright! Alright! I’ll tell you where your stupid Mudblood is. As long as you promise that I get that draft.” Nott stared straight into Harry’s eyes, his gaze filled with hatred.
Harry glared back with the same intensity but responded, “Yes, however much it pains me you will get it, but first, where is she?”
Nott grinned evilly. “She’s in The Labyrinth.”
It was Harry’s turn to look confused, as well as irritated; it was like talking to Sphinx! He was just about to onslaught his enemy when he realised how silent Draco had become. Turning around, he realised whatever Nott was talking about obviously wasn’t good by the look of pure horror on the Blonde’s face.
“Draco? What does he mean The Labyrinth? Where is that?”
Draco didn’t answer. Instead, he simply stared at the man he thought once as a trusted ally; a person he could talk too. No, not there! Anywhere but there!
Nott laughed as he saw his old Leader break; something had wished for many, many years.
“Yes, you remember Malfoy, the place where your father put all of his disgraces…you were put there a couple of times weren’t you?”
Draco gulped, his hands beginning to tremble. Harry watched the conversation his temper rising along with his worry for his best friend.
“For Merlin’s sake Draco what the hell is he talking about?!”
Draco just shook his head, fighting against the bile that was rising in his throat. It was the place where his nightmares stemmed from, ever since he was a child. He hadn’t told Hermione about his father’s torture maze because it had been too painful to even mention. It was Lucius Malfoy’s most treasured position and he had been the common guinea pig to test it out.
It was a torture of the mind; an endless labyrinth of doors and corridors; whenever you think you’ve made progress you end up back where you started. The only way out was the trapdoor on the ceiling which was concealed masterfully. Only a person from the outside could truly save you from the madness and even then it was difficult: the trapdoor moved regularly, so it may not be anywhere the captive. And now Hermione was in there, suffering just how Draco suffered, it was almost too hard to bear thinking about.
“Why Nott? Why did you put her there, of all the places?!”
“Where Draco, what is ‘The Labyrinth?”
Harry was getting exasperated, Draco could tell it in his voice, and briefly explained the torture chamber that he himself had visited too often. Harry’s eyes widened with renewed horror at the possible danger his best friend was in and whirled back round to face the prisoner before repeating Draco’s question.
“Why did you put her there?”
Nott’s features darkened. “Because a debt had to be settled; Weasley killed my girl and I promised him that I would kill his, no matter how long it took.” His eyes widened at his revenge and it was then that Draco knew that his former gang member was truly crazed; he would never recover.
Harry stared at him with disbelief. “You killed Ron! How was that not enough?!”
“Because, he didn’t get to feel the pain I have to deal with every day. He didn’t feel the constant burn that scorches your insides, or the gnawing sensation which is a constant reminder she is gone. No, he escaped the indescribable torment because he died. Now, when her life is just about to slip away, his humanity will be restored and he will watch, helplessly, while knowing it was his fault that she’s dead…just like I did.”
As soon as he finished speaking, Draco truly saw what had become of the man known as Theodore Nott: a man who lost the love of his life. Even through all the evil, Love had touched his heart and it had also broken him, just like it had broken Hermione, just like it would do to Draco if he lost her again. He thought it had hurt before, but seeing this shell rocking back and forth in front of him, he knew that if he lost her, there would be no difference between him and Nott. I’m not going to let that happen.
“How did you bring Ron back?”
Nott grinned evilly, “Easy. I placed a curse on his grave while I was on the run; the day you caught me actually.” He winked, as he was remembering the good times rather than the day he was beaten bloody and imprisoned before continuing, “That he would rise up and create havoc and terror for the one he loved most before striking her down on the anniversary of the day when he took my heart from me.”
To add to his crazy persona he clapped at the end of his speech before becoming sombre and brooding again. “I didn’t anticipate the Mudblood fleeing though that was a disadvantage. You see the loophole of the curse is that she has to be within the area which he used to call home for it to actually work.”
Draco’s brow furrowed, “But he was around the Cottage and that’s in Devon?”
Nott shrugged as if suddenly bored with the subject, “Because she activated the curse on her arrival back to London; and the curse says he is to create havoc and terror for her, so no matter where she went he would follow. That’s what I told him to do.”
Draco turned slowly back towards Harry, his face emotionless, yet the Boy Wonder could tell that whatever he was thinking was crippling him severely.
Dully, the Blonde stated, “Ron’s going to kill Hermione today and there’s nothing we can do about it.”
“I’M COMING TO GET YOU!”
Hermione covered her mouth so that Ron couldn’t hear her ragged breaths as he limped past her hiding spot. Over the last hour the chase had turned into a game for Ron, leaving Hermione barely any time to catch her breath. At first, she thought she might be in some sort of extended basement, but after running around for what seemed forever she realised that whatever enchantment had been cast; it meant for her to repeat the same circuit over and over again, for she had passed the room Ron had trapped her in at least three times.
Whoever created this must have been powerful; I’ve never seen a repetition spell last this long and with so many inter-changes as well.
It was true. Even though it was the same two corridors repeated over and over again, the Witch or Wizard who had created it seemed to have fashioned them in alternate directions so that the person trapped felt like they were making progress. It had taken Hermione a while to finally figure out she wasn’t actually going anywhere before she decided to take cover and rest her aching body.
Now, she and Ron were playing hide and seek then kill. Hermione had to keep changing her position every so often so that Ron would not catch onto what she doing but he was going to find her soon. You couldn’t hide forever when it was the same place printed over and over again. No, what she really had to do was find the way out. Hermione guessed it would be hidden, maybe even camouflaged, but she deducted that it must have been close to where Ron had held her captive so it would be easy for him to get in and out of the labyrinth of corridors and rooms.
I got to get out and get back to my family. It had become a mantra in her mind as she raced aimlessly through hallway after hallway; a sentence of desperation and hope.
Hermione eyed the empty corridor she was in and decided it was safe to move again. She turned right and slammed straight into Ron’s decaying body.
Her scream was filled with surprise and anger at herself for being caught.
“I told you I would get you; your mine Hermione.” He whispered it in her ear as she struggled to break his vice like grip, whimpering at the venom in his voice.
“Ron, let me go, please, if you still love me you will let me g-“
“Let you go, but your mine and I’m going to make you mine…forever.” His tongue slithered along her neckline before he took in the lavender scent of her hair.
“You smell delicious; good enough to eat.”
“No! Please no!”
Hermione fought against him but her body groaned under his pressure. She was too weak to fight him, especially after all the running and the right side of her body already felt heavily bruised from the impact of the door.
“Ron please! Don’t do this! I beg you please!”
He cackled; the sound so taunting that it made her squirm even more to get away from him. He disgusted her and yet her heart felt like it was breaking all over again. What has happened to him; why him! What did he do to deserve this!
It was a battle that she knew she was never going to win: Heart against Mind. Her mind wanted her to be brave and attack him, strategize even, but no matter how much she hated him right now or how much she loved Draco; her heart loved Ron too and nothing would change that, not even while he was hurting her. I guess I get it now why so many women stay with men they hate…they love them too much.
“It’ll all be over soon my love… you and me we will be together forever. For now though, I think I better tie you up.”
For a moment, Hermione had forgotten that Ron had her trapped but now all her fears hit her again with this new promise he made. They grappled with each other; Hermione failing miserably before he placed her in a new room, one with a chair with a thick rope placed neatly on the seat.
Her eyes widened at the sight but she barely had time register what he was going to do before he had her in tied against the chair and had left her in the darkness once again; this time with the door bolted.
She didn’t realise she had started to cry again until a tear fluttered off of her cheek and onto her lap, darkening a spot on her jeans. It was only then she realised she had been put in normal clothes, and her wedding dress had been taken from her. Ron must have done it while I was unconscious she thought and for some reason this made Hermione cry harder. She didn’t think it was possible to have any tears left after what had flooded from her eyes earlier on but she was proved wrong as the darkened spot become a nice blob, as if someone had spilt something on them.
She stared into the darkness and whispered the name that gave her hope.
“What do you mean Ron’s going to kill Hermione? He loves her and there is no way a curse is going to break the everlasting bond they have! I just don’t believe it!”
“He’s under a curse moron and a big one at that. It’s probably just as bad as the Imperious Curse but the thing is, Ron will actually remember doing what he’s about to do to Hermione which probably makes it twice as bad!” replied Draco, a little exasperated that the man who defeated Voldermort couldn’t accept the simple fact Ron wasn’t the same person anymore. If you can call that rotting bag of bones a person.
Harry shook his head in disbelief but Draco could tell that he already knew it was the truth in his mind. They had exited Nott’s cell shortly after Draco’s declaration and now were rushing through Lucius Malfoy’s office back at Malfoy Manor to try and find any hint of the location of ‘The Labyrinth’.
“I can’t believe you don’t actually know where it is! You’ve been there enough times!”
Harry threw some bits of paperwork in the air, his temper getting the better of him. Draco didn’t answer but secretly agreed with the anger that Potter was feeling. He felt stupid that he didn’t actually know the location and that it was putting Hermione in even more danger; the longer it took the less chance they got to her alive. Don’t! She’s not dead yet…you would feel it if she was.
Draco shook the horrid thoughts from his mind and started searching with renewed vigour. There had to be some sort of documentation about where his father kept it; a diary, planning permission even a bill for the land. They both knew they were against the clock and the two men’s patience was running thin.
Draco whipped around but only found the wall filled with books around him. Harry who had been arrogantly throwing ancient books to the ground (Hermione would not be pleased) in the hope of finding something useful, stopped, suddenly alert.
“What is it?!”
Draco didn’t turn round, his heart thudding dangerously quickly.
“I thought I heard Hermione’s voice…she…she said my name!”
The thought of her calling out for him was another sharp pain to his heart. Without another moment’s pause he began pulling desperately at the books on the shelves looking for anything that had an answer. I’m turning into a madman just like Nott did when he lost Daph- no I haven’t lost her yet! I just got to keep going!
The door the room opened again but Hermione didn’t even bother to raise her head. She knew who it was and she didn’t want to give him the gratification of her tears.
Ron didn’t seem bothered by her lack of courtesy, instead he half strode half limped towards her; his leg becoming more and more of a problem since the chase, and began untying the knot he had created at the back of the chair.
“It’s almost time sweetheart.”
The last word almost made her want to laugh. Almost. He grabbed her by the arm before dragging her out of the room towards another which Hermione wanted to roll her eyes out; the first one he had put her in.
“Couldn’t you have just killed me in there?” She asked bluntly her voice void of any emotion.
“Of course not; I have to give you a fighting chance. Like you said earlier you’re a fighter and I don’t want to take that away even if there’s no way you survive.”
Ron smiled as if he truly believed what he was saying was meant to be reassuring. Instead it just made Hermione feel sick. He pushed her into the room and she was somewhat comforted by the steady blue flames that still flickered in their clear jars. At least I won’t die in darkness like my dreams suggest.
It was then that she realised her dreams had been a warning about Ron. That he had been coming for her all along and that there had been no real escape from the pain he caused her. She faced Ron head on, her mind readying herself for imminent death.
Ron smirked at her which pissed her off. It was Draco’s trademark and Ron was ruining it for her. It had become a reassuring, cheeky quirk that she had come to love and even in death she wouldn’t let Ron take that away from her.
“Don’t do that.”
His smirked widened into an evil grin. “Do what.”
“Don’t smirk at me like I’m some sort of entertainment. Just get it done.”
Her tone was far too accepting of the fate that he was pressing on her that Ron frowned.
“You have to have the fire; you’re not allowed to die without the fire.”
Hermione grimaced and replied, “You’ve broken me Ron. I have no fire left.”
“Well you’ll have to find it because you’re not going down without a fight.”
With that, he threw a knife down at her feet. He withdrew his own from a mouldy pocket on his clothes and gestured to it, “Pick it up.”
“Oh Merlin how can I have been so stupid!” Harry slapped his forehead with the palm of hand before pulling his wand from his back pocket. He pointed to it, “Why don’t we just call it?”
Draco raised an eyebrow. "And say what? Accio anything to do with The Labyrinth on it?” He half laughed at the thought but Harry shrugged and replied, “No hurt in trying.”
“Worst. Idea. Ever.”
“Well it was yours. Accio anything to do with The Labyrinth.”
The blonde rolled his eyes and was just about to say that it wouldn’t work when suddenly a yellowing scroll flew from one of the cubby holes on the other side of the room.
“I’VE GOT IT!”
Harry held up the piece of parchment in triumph, a slight twinkle in his eye. “And you thought it was a bad idea.”
Draco raised his eyes heavenward but he couldn’t help the small smile that seemed to tug at his lips. They had found it. Together. Him and Potter; two men who were once enemies and now they were alliances…maybe even friends. Harry winked at him before passing him the paper. Draco read it greedily, his stormy grey eyes taking in every inch of the black ink before him. This is how we’re going to get her back.
Plot 4.6 A, issue no 12; THE LABYRINTH.
To be used for
It seemed unreal that all they had been looking for was a piece of paper with four simple lines that barely gave any indication on what truly The Labyrinth was for; but here it was, the lifeline towards Hermione.
“Can we apparate there?”
Harry looked to see the puzzled expression on Draco’s face, his teeth biting nervously at his already dry lips.
“I’m not sure, from what I can remember it’s just an empty field with a massive trap door in it; I didn’t actually get to see much of the outside.”
The pair shrugged before apparating on the spot, the parchment floating to the ground behind them.
It wasn’t good when they arrived.
“I guess the gardener stopped pruning when the money stopped coming.” Draco grimaced as he and Harry stood before the severely overgrown grass where the clear cut field was meant to be.
“Why are things never easy?” Harry stared at the grass, his shoulders slumped. “I mean seriously, after all the crap I have faced in my life you would have thought that this one time it would have just been a field.”
He raised his arms heavenward before walking into the grass, grumbling to himself as he did so. Draco stayed where he was, completely bemused by the man who had saved the whole wizarding community.
“Where are you going?”
“To find the trap door! Where else!” Harry shouted back as he pursued further into the forest of grass.
That guy seriously needs a holiday after all this. Sighing, Draco flicked his wand elegantly in the air causing two brooms to materialise beside him. Hopping on one, he grabbed the other in his spare hand before swooping down through the green blades to where the grumpy Boy Wonder was trudging along.
“I thought this might be faster.”
He threw the broom towards Harry who caught it in surprise before mounting it.
“Now, let’s find my wife.”
“You’re not married yet.”
Draco smirked his trademark and replied, “Yeah but when we get home I’m getting her to that altar so fast there won’t be a chance for anymore interruptions.”
“Pick. It. Up.”
Ron flashed his own knife menacingly at her but Hermione stood firmly rooted to the spot.
“I’m not playing your childish games Ron. I give in; just do it because you are not getting a fight out of me. I may only have one ending but I will go down with my dignity if nothing else.”
She stared into his red and green eyes with no emotion; no pride, no anger, no fear. Nothing. She wanted to give him nothing. He did not own her and when she died she would still be Hermione Granger the brains of the Golden trio, Mother, friend and would be wife.
Ron grunted, disappointed with her reaction but Hermione could tell that he would do it soon. He had placed a clock in the room shortly after he shoved her inside and had continued to watch it nervously throughout their conversation, as if he was waiting for the exact time to kill her.
And as she glanced up at it she was surprised to see that it was 10 o clock. I must have been away for whole day… a whole day of Mia missing me. The thought of her daughter brought a lump to Hermione’s throat. She had purposely forgot about her daughter so that the painful idea of never seeing her again didn’t squeeze at her heart but now, as she thought about the golden locks and baby blue eyes, that dazzling smile that made everyone’s heart skip a beat, Hermione couldn’t help but ache for her.
I tried Mia. I tried to get home to you but I wasn’t strong enough…Mummy loves you though; you’ll always be my special little Princess.
Hermione jolted at the word that was almost a shout inside the Brunette’s head. She had almost forgotten about the psychic connection that she had with her special little daughter. They had never had used it; Hermione had never wanted to make her daughter feel like her thoughts weren’t private but now, as she stared at Ron who swung his knife back and forth nervously against the ticking of the clock, all she wanted to do was to hear her daughter’s sweet, loving voice.
Please don’t leave me Mummy…please try! Daddy will be there soon, I can feel it…I love you Mummy.
The last three words sunk deep into Hermione’s soul. She didn’t want Mia to feel Hermione die but now that the connection was open, the Brunette knew her daughter wouldn’t close it, not now she could feel her mother’s presence.
So there was only one thing for it; she was going to have to fight to stay alive. But, not with a knife, no, Hermione Granger would fight with her mind just as she had always done. She guessed that Ron was planning to kill her at half past 10 because the more the minutes ticked by, the more agitated he became. So if Mia was right, and Hermione had never doubted her daughter’s instincts once, Draco was nearly here. If she could just hang out until he got here then everything would be alright.
She glanced over to where Ron had begun to pace. He seemed to have decayed more since yesterday; his body was slowly melting in front of her…it was like he was dying all over again. She didn’t know what to say but she had to say something…for Mia.
“Why did he do this to you Ron?”
Ron stopped short of his pacing and eyed Hermione suspiciously.
“What are you talking about?”
Hermione shrugged, as if the topic uninterested her, but she could tell that he was itching to find out what she knew about the man behind the body. “Of nothing, I mean I guessed it was Nott who put you up to this, ages ago,”
She paused; secretly taking pleasure in the way Ron’s body convulsed shivered at their old enemy’s name, and knew she was on the right track before continuing, “I just wanted to know why that’s all. It seems strange that after all the years you’ve been gone that you suddenly show up when I return home.”
It felt strange, now that she suddenly could switch off the emotions that had her reeling only moments ago, crippling her beyond repair. It didn’t make sense really. It’s Mia; it’s the fact that I have to get back for her and the only way to do it is to trick Ron.
She breathed heavily before continuing her assault. In truth, she was about to the most terrible thing; she was going to make Ron turn on himself. He already seemed confused by her questions and Hermione could tell that his mind was battling the orders he was given, just like she suspected.
Well, there’s no stopping now.
“I guess he’s just trying to get back at you really, just like he was all those years ago. I mean, that is why he tried to kill me – you died because he was going to take the thing that you held most precious away from you…that’s why you jumped in front of that curse.”
Ron’s hand flung to his temple, as if his mind couldn’t process what she was saying. “No… no I died…he got…no…”
He was breaking. His orders to kill were beginning to mix with his past memories and he couldn’t control them. Hermione had figured it out when he asked her to pick up the knife. Nott hadn’t got his revenge; he wanted her dead, not Ron. He had specifically said he wanted Ron to feel the loss over Daphne and Ron hadn’t got that chance. So now, Nott was using him as a puppet to carry out what he would have done to her if he were able; he wanted to play.
Well Hermione was going to finish the game and unfortunately, she was going to have to hurt the person she used to love most in the world. She had to make him remember who he was.
“I suppose you didn’t even realise that he was controlling you. That you were his play thing to do what he’s wanted to do all these years; to undo what you did…to kill me.”
“Stop…it doesn’t….it can’t…just stop…” He was on his knees now, rocking, holding his head between his hands. He couldn’t handle the onslaught she was giving him; the truth against the vile instructions that had been implanted before he started his mission. Hermione blocked out the stab against her heart; she couldn’t be weak now…not when Mia needed her home. So she carried on, ignoring the lump in her throat.
“You’re a slave to his goals…a means to an end. He’s probably laughing in his prison cell as we speak, thinking about how clever he’s been to finally win against you. Thing is Ron, you’re not human, he robbed you of that when he raised you from the dead and filled your head with lies…you’re just the vessel that the Captain’s riding his hopes on.”
Ron couldn’t take anymore. Without her noticing, he had gripped the knife firmly in his hand and lunged forward, the shiny metal glinting in the blue-ish flames that surrounded them as it headed straight for Hermione’s throat.
“Did you hear that?”
Harry paused, his ears almost twitching as they waited for another sound to be made. Draco watched as the black haired man who was so good at finding trouble edged towards a slightly thinner clump of grass a few metres off to where they had been flying. He lowered his broom to the ground, reaching his hand over the green strands, his brows furrowed.
“What? What is it?”
“I think it was Ron’s voice.”
Draco flew his broom so that he was next to Harry, his own ears strained against the silence. If Harry had heard Ron then that meant Hermione wasn’t too far behind. He watched as Harry plucked at chunks of grass beneath them, revealing what they had been looking for. The trapdoor. It was wooden, nothing special but when the two dismounted and began to pull at the iron rung they realised how heavy it was.
“How could Ron have managed to open this by himself?” Harry asked as he and Draco struggled against the enormous weight of the door.
“I don’t care I just want to get Hermione out.”
He began putting all his weight against the dark wood, his forehead doused in sweat. Now that they were so close to her it was all Draco could do but not to blast through the wood itself. He needed to have her in his arms; he needed her back with him and the fact that Harry had heard Ron, and not Hermione worried the Blonde.
I’m coming Mione. They finally managed to pull the door open, letting it thud to the ground in front of them. There was nothing back total darkness below and Draco began to feel the slow throb of fear as he remembered the last time he was here. The darkness had consumed him to the brink of insanity before his father allowed him to come out, something that had haunted his dreams ever since.
“Are you going to be okay to do this?”
Harry looked concerned. It was weird for Draco to have someone he used to hate, care for him so much. Then again, the same could be said for Hermione. Thinking about her brought back the desperate need that had swallowed his body ever since she disappeared. He turned his palms into fists before nodding.
“Yeah. If it’s the last thing I do I will get her back home.”
With that, they jumped into the black pit.
Hermione swerved just in time, leaving the knife Ron had aimed at her to shatter against the wall. She didn’t have time to be mad, she had to keep going. For Mia. The thought of her daughter was overpowering and it renewed Hermione’s effort to break her lost love.
“In fact, I don’t think he’ll ever let you rest now, just to be certain that he’s got exactly what he wanted.”
She dodged again as he tried to catch her, his eyes crazed. “NO!”
“Yes Ron. You’ve become what he’s wanted you to be; a monster. He wants you to be inhuman because he will know how much it hurts me to see you this way – it’s just part of his sick game to get back at you. And he’s winning.”
He lunged at her then, his arms outstretched to strangle her but, Hermione had crippled him with her words, allowing her to dodge his attack again. He stumbled as she became out of reach, tripping over one of the glass jars that held Hermione’s blue flames causing it to smash. Free from confinement, the flame licked up at the wall nearest to it, charring the already black bricks and creating an oily smell. Hermione knew what those blue flames could do; if they weren’t tamed then they could create havoc and if she didn’t finish with Ron soon, she would burn alive.
The sound of fear from her daughter’s psychic shout rattled through the Brunette’s bones. Mia knew she was in danger and if she didn’t hurry, Mia would feel her pain; that was something she couldn’t let happen, so, with a heavy heart she went in for the kill.
“He’s probably enjoying it; the fact you haven’t got any humanity left. That he’s stripped you of the very essence that made you who you were. Love. Passion. Friendship. Everything gone and all part of his elaborate plan to get his revenge on you. I’ve got to say it is very clever for a deranged lunatic. I guess I just thought you would overcome him again, but I suppose you just never loved me as much as I loved you.”
There it was. Past tense. She no longer loved him. It was the only thing she could think of that would stop him but she didn’t expect his drastic reaction. He hit the floor screaming as if his head was on fire. Hermione watched as he crumbled beneath her feet, her verbal attack ringing through his mind.
Within seconds it happened.
A magnificent glow that had nothing to do with the out of control flame in the corner, started to emanate from Ron’s body causing him to writhe in pain. He gasped, as if he couldn’t quite catch his breath before his eyes shone with a light so bright that Hermione could barely look at him.
She squinted through the blinding brightness, unsure if this was his next trick.
He groaned in response and she couldn’t help feeling guilty. Something was obviously happening to him and there was nothing Hermione could do to stop it. She bent down, her hand outstretched to him but he pushed it away, curling into a ball, while clutching his head desperately.
He opened his eyes and to Hermione’s astonishment they were the piercing blue that they used to be; the colour that always reminded her of calming waves at the beach. Hermione was expecting to see his body transform too but instead it seemed to be decomposing even more rapidly than before and it frightened her. I don’t want to lose him again!
The thought was so sudden that she didn’t have time to think about what he had done to her. Instead she crouched beside him, her hands wandering aimlessly over his body, trying to find the reason for the abnormal glow.
Her head whipped round to the doorway where to her relief Draco and Harry were standing. Harry rushed over to the inconsolable Ron whose agonising screams seemed to echo around the room but Draco stayed where he was; she was already rushing to him.
He opened his arms wide and there she was. Safe. Home. Hermione breathed in his scent, her tears already staining his dirtied shirt.
He raised her chin to stare at her; gulping in the beauty of her eyes while stroking her hair, not caring that it was greasy from her last couple of days in The Labyrinth.
Hermione’s eyes began to water as she watched the relief swamp his features, “You came for me.”
Draco wanted to kiss her, take her away there and then but the unbearable noise from Weasley already had her turning away from him. To his surprise, Hermione kept hold of his hand and tugged him towards the decomposing form of her ex-fiancé.
Harry had tears in his eyes when they approached. He gazed at the girl they had come to save, his eyes filled with the same terror that Hermione was feeling. He didn’t want to lose Ron either. No matter what he had done; it hadn’t really been in control and he was still their best friend, the sweet boy with the dirt on his nose. And it was Hermione who had broken him.
Harry didn’t understand, his gaze puzzled. Hermione couldn’t face him. Instead, she turned her gaze towards the man who died for her and was now dying all over again because of her. The void was beginning to grumble inside of her again as she watched him writhe and squirm.
He whispered her name, his normal eyes finding hers and she couldn’t stop the tears from falling. She couldn’t stop the emotions now, there was no need too; the deed was done and she felt awful for it.
“I’m so sorry Ron. I’m so…so sorry.”
He gripped at her spare hand with surprising strength, never taking his eyes off of hers. “Don’t…be.”
She sobbed and clutched his hand to her heart, her vision blurring. “I don’t want to lose you again!”
He half smiled, making her laugh before replying, “It’s okay…I’m not…meant to…be here…anyway.” As an afterthought he brought their entwined fingers to his lips, before whispering, “Forgive me.”
She shook her head, unable to speak. Her tears were in full flow now and she barely could see the next wave of light that seemed to explode from his body; he was breaking away from her. Leaving her all over again!
Harry grabbed Ron’s spare hand, his eyes streaming too.
“I’m here. I’m here!”
Draco watched the trio, feeling outcast. He didn’t know what to do; he didn’t even know if he wanted to do anything. This was the person who had stolen the love of his life away from him and who had been torturing their family for the last couple of months. How could he forgive him for what he had put Hermione through?
But he knew he had too…for her. She was breaking all over again and he wasn’t even sure how many times she had broken while she was here. Could she even be fixed? So he did the only thing he could think of that might bring peace to the dying member of the trio.
Draco bent down so that he was in Ron’s eye line before speaking.
“With your blessing, I will personally make sure that these two never have to suffer again. I promise to look after the both of them the way you would and I will love them both the way you do.”
Ron’s eyebrows rose creating a rather crooked affect over his features but Draco knew that his oath had surprised the red head. He saw the boy he teased when they were at school, not that dead man walking. He didn’t say anything at first, just stared deep into Draco’s soul with those piercing eyes before nodding.
“You better or I’ll haunt your ass all over again.”
Draco smirked, “Deal.”
Hermione’s tears seemed to subside as she turned to face Draco. He seemed unsure of what he said, as if he had trespassed on the moment between the three but when he found her honey brown gaze he knew he had done the best he could. She smiled gratefully at him and it was then that Draco knew that he had saved her; she was still his and she was still here.
Ron grasped his best friend’s hand, no longer the monster even though he barely had any meat on his bones, but a man who had his humanity back, who had saved his girl once again. He had beat Nott once again.
Harry merely nodded through his tears and with a flick of his wand; he lifted Ron’s body into the air and sent it straight into the blue flames that had spread behind them like wild fire. Hermione wanted to burrow her head in Draco’s chest, she couldn’t bear to watch Ron die all over again but she did. She had too…for his sake…for his memory.
The three moved towards the doorway so that there was no chance they would burn but they stayed there, rooted to the spot as they watched their friend die once more. When it was all over, Harry lifted his wand to die the blue flames but Hermione stopped his hand with her own.
“No, I want this place to never exist.”
Harry nodded, and lowered his wand arm without a word, before heading back through the passage that he and Draco followed to get to Hermione. They had decided to create a rope line so that they would find their way back where a ladder had been conjured to help them escape to their freedom.
Neither Draco nor Hermione moved. He held her close to him as she watched the flames dance, eating their way round the place that used to be her prison. Nuzzling into the softness of her curls, he murmured,
“We have to go.”
Hearing his voice was music to her ears. It was home, and it was the possibility of a future. Turning around in his arms, she smiled before kissing him expertly on the lips.
He kissed her back, his lips massaging against hers, his hands roaming around her body, making sure that she was actually there. She broke from him, her smile widening. It felt weird to smile again.
“First of all though, I need to find my wedding dress.”
He grinned before kissing her palm and tugging her out of the burning room, the sound of Mia laughing happily in Hermione’s head and finally, after all this time, at peace with Ron’s death.
A/N: Well that’s it; I hope you all enjoyed it. I still have the epilogue to go which will be up shortly but please let me know what you think. I have loved every review I’ve had from my avid readers who I all thank tremendously for your support. You are the people who kept me going, who kept me writing this story.
Yours Stagzpotterfan x