Disclaimer: I do not own Harry Potter or anything related to it. Oh well.
A/N: Thank you to Lily Evans, who came up with the title, and then inspired this entire fic. Also to my beta, Rogue Phoenix. Enjoy everyone!
There were simply no words to say. There was nothing to think either. As much as she wanted to express how she felt in words, it was impossible, especially with where she was at that very moment.
Hermione Granger had easily blended into the crowd of mourners with her outfit of all black. Throughout the years, time had hardly left it’s mark on her face, so at a glance, anyone would recognize her as the same bookworm from Gryffindor house two years ago. But she felt that one night had made up for all that. The things she had seen, the horrors that shook her, the people she had lost… it all had to show somewhere. Maybe some saw it reflected in her eyes, or suspected it from the way she never smiled anymore.
Desperately, she avoided looking at the reason for the crowd around her. She tried blocking out the sound of sniffles and sobs from the people beside her, but it was no use. They kept ringing in her ears, making her feel guiltier about the fact that she wasn’t crying with them. She didn’t remember crying at all since it happened, come to think of it. Everything was simply in a haze, a never-ending fog that engulfed both her mind and soul.
Staring at the ground, she tugged at her skirt, realizing how much she hated the color black. It was so morbid, so dark, representing all the unsolvable mysteries in the world. Not that she believed such a ridiculous thing of course… mysteries could always be solved. It was a firm belief of hers that since every mystery had a cause, it had to have an answer as well.
But why was she thinking about the color of her clothes anyway? She never cared about what she wore at all. Maybe she just wanted a distraction to keep her away from the sight set before her eyes. Anything would be better to think about than what was expected of her to think. But hesitantly, against her will, her gaze rose to the engraving on the tombstone only a few feet away.
“Harry James Potter-”
She tore her eyes away, unable to read past his last name.
Her desperate cries were only answered by a painful silence.
The sky was darkened with storm clouds, fat raindrops soaking every place they touched. Lightning struck and thunder roared, expressing the wrath of the battle that was being fought below. Coughing, Hermione leant against a nearby tree, breathing deeply to try and regain the energy she had lost. She had seen them… Harry and Voldemort, their battle making it’s way into the lush undergrowth of the forest. And when she saw, her heart rather than sense compelled her to follow.
She didn’t care what anyone else said… no matter what the prophecy foretold, she would never leave Harry alone with the strongest dark wizard in the world. After all, the words had to have been lying. She knew that Harry was stronger than most, but to be the only one who could defeat Voldemort? Impossible. How can you be branded with that before you were even born?
It couldn’t be only his job to triumph over him, he was only human. He needed her, and Ron too… every adventure he faced, they were both there fighting beside him. This time would be no different, no matter what some batty seer claimed to think. They were a trio, nothing could break them apart.
Then she heard a scream… a familiar one.
Her breath caught in her throat as she launched herself from the tree, pushing aside all the branches scratching at her face as she followed the sound. No matter how many leaves got in her way or roots tripped her feet, she would never stop running till she reached them both. She’d back up Harry to the death, and beyond that if possible. Losing him was a thought she wouldn’t even consider.
She skidded to a dead halt when two silhouettes appeared in the mist of the storm. The fog hid their faces, but the distance between them was enough to tell her it was who she had followed. Two red snake eyes were glowing from one figure… and a pair of emerald green shone from the other.
But before words could spring from her lips, she was blinded by an explosion of light. The ground beneath her shook as a beam of green shot from Voldemort and one of blue from Harry. She watched in horrific awe as both brushed past in midair, and torpedoed toward their designated target.
“HARRY NO!” she screamed hysterically, going to run but being shoved against a tree by the quake instead.
The impact of the spells crashing erupted in a dome of glowing bright light. She heard cries of agony, screams, curses… but all too warped by pain to know who they came from. Staggering backwards, she stared with wide eyes at the scene before her, unable to absorb it. Part of her was demanding to go see if he was okay, but the other was too paralyzed with fear to move an inch. This wasn’t happening, this couldn’t be happening…
Finally, the sounds faded as well as the light. In it’s place, came a silence like no other. It was as thick as the forest around her, eerie and foreboding. Something about it’s invisible presence hinted at death, and the hard times that were to follow it. Needless to say, it wasn’t helping her to unfreeze from her position clutching the tree’s damp bark.
Nothing moved. Nothing spoke. Not a thing made a sound… the only breathing she heard was her own, in perfect harmony with her pounding heart. Slowly, she loosened her grip on the tree and managed to stand up straight. Hesitantly, she stepped forward, the mud sinking beneath her feet. Then she took another step, and another, which ended up slowly leading her to the scene of the duel.
The ground grew hotter and hotter as she neared it, still quivering with the amount of magic that had just skimmed it’s surface. Looking up, she realized that the grown trees in close proximity were dead, yet small shoots of plants were already growing in their place. She had a faint idea of how that could be possible, but it was gone once she laid her eyes on the person lying only a few feet away from her. Once she laid her eyes on him, she felt as if she could never think of anything again.
There he lay, Harry Potter. The world’s tragic hero and her closest friend in the world. How things had changed since she first met him on the Hogwarts Express first year, how quickly time had flown. Was it really nine years ago that she had recognized him as ‘the boy who lived’ she had read about in her schoolbooks? It seemed like it had only been days ago, especially as she stared at his body now.
He was sprawled upon the ground in a distorted fashion, his vivid green eyes open in a hollow stare. His skin was paler than she had ever seen before, but she noted with reminiscing sorrow that his hair was still as untidy as it was known to be. To pull away, even to see what remained of the Dark Lord, was impossible… she couldn’t blink, she couldn’t cry, she couldn’t do anything but stare in numb shock.
Reaching him at last, she dropped helplessly to her knees beside him, slowly going to place a hand on his face. But just as she was about to touch his skin, she recoiled away in disbelief. This was the boy who had befriended her when no one would, who she had spent all seven of her years at Hogwarts with, who had withstood more pain and anguish than most people could bear…
The boy she loved more than anyone else in the world. And he was, gone.
Voices began to sound throughout the forest as people gathered to see what had happened, managing to escape from the initial battle itself. But she didn’t look up, she didn’t listen, she could only stare at the fallen hero before her. This couldn’t have been what he was put on earth to do… if it was, than he wouldn’t have touched her heart as much as he did and then disappear with death. He would’ve only done what was asked, then left without a trace, without affecting anyone else like her. There was no vindication for the end he met…
And it certainly wasn’t destiny.
Now people began to come into view, gasping at the sight that met their eyes. People called out to her, but she couldn’t understand what they were saying. She didn’t want to understand them, all she wanted was Harry to somehow wake up and assure her that everything was okay. Anything else was insignificant to her, she refused to recognize any of it.
All she could take in were his eyes, and the bittersweet melody of falling raindrops around her.
The ceremony was over, and the crowd had gradually dispersed to return to the lives they still led. But Hermione stayed firmly in her spot, unable to leave. All she could do was reread his name on the gravestone over and over, without any bravery to move on to the rest. Maybe if she did, she’d understand why it had all happened.
Yes, she had finally been able to come about to the truth. He was dead… gone, and unable to come back. But it still didn’t give her a reason why it had happened. Death was said to be it’s own mystery, but every mystery came from somewhere, and Harry’s death was said to be because of the prophecy that controlled his life.
But a prophecy was words and nothing more, how could it control his life? Destiny was only a name for what the future holds, but it isn’t an explanation for death. To say Harry died in that way because it was his destiny was a lie, it never had to happen. So then why did it?
“Hermione… it’s time to go,”
Silently, she looked up to see her only best friend left, now standing in front of her. Ron Weasley seemed to be the only other person who truly felt the same pain as she did, though it didn’t help to ease her own. The bags under his eyes were proof of the sleep he had been losing, and the way he kept his hands buried in his pockets made it clear of his hidden emotions. The only thing she was grateful for lately was that she still had him… though it still didn’t bring Harry back.
Without a word, she shook her head, returning her gaze to the gravestone. Part of her still believed if she stared at it long enough, it would give her the answers to the questions that continued to plague her.
With a sigh, Ron took another few steps close to her. “It’s over Hermione,” he said hoarsely, “It’s done… there’s nothing we can do. Let’s just-”
“There’s nothing we can do to change what happened,” she interrupted shortly, “I know… but it still doesn’t explain why,”
The frown on Ron’s face deepened, and he looked down at the grass. “We’ll never know why,” he muttered to her, “That’s how fate works-”
“It was not fate,” she snapped suddenly, cutting her eyes towards Ron. Startled, he took an automatic step back, but he didn’t let the subject drop.
“Of course it was fate,” he argued tiredly, “The prophecy foretold it, it was what he was destined to do-”
“There is no such thing as destiny, Ron,” she spat, facing him entirely now, “If that was his sole purpose in life- to die for the wizarding world -than he wouldn’t have had such an impact on both you and me,”
“Don’t ‘please Hermione’ me!” she screamed hysterically, unable to control the emotion flooding through her veins. This time, Ron stayed still, but she herself couldn’t help but go on. “Destiny wouldn’t take one of the only people I could truly care for away from me, it wouldn’t! The way we were, the way we both felt for each other… if there was such a thing as fate, then it would’ve brought us closer, not torn us apart-”
Tears suddenly choked her up, for the first time since the battle. They refused to pour out of her eyes just yet, but she could feel the strain of them in her throat. Ignoring them, she lifted her eyes back to Ron, who had caught onto what was happening. “He didn’t have to die,” she finished, her eyes beginning to glass over, “It wasn’t what was meant to be-”
For a moment, Ron remained silent as the tears filled her eyes. Then, he slowly approached her and took her in his arms, holding her close to him. Unable to keep it in any longer, she let out a sob and began to cry, her tears soaking the fabric of his robes. He didn’t say a word, and neither did she… all she could do was weep into his chest, shivering too much to pull away from his embrace. A few minutes passed before Ron hushed her, stroking her hair like only a best friend could do.
“You’re right,” he told her softly, tears threatening to fill his eyes as well, “He didn’t have to die… but he did. There’s nothing we can do, nothing we can find out to know why… it just, happened. Perhaps you’re right, maybe it wasn’t his fate… or maybe it was, and we just need to get over the scars it left on us,”
Letting out a shaky sigh, Hermione could only nod slightly. She allowed another moment of comfort in his arms to pass before straightening up again. Brushing the fallen tears from her cheeks, she managed to swallow the rest that threatened to pour out of her and regain a bit of composure once more. She locked her gaze with Ron’s and felt a sense of security in the understanding reflected in his eyes.
Clearing his throat, Ron straightened himself up as well. “Come on now,” he murmured, “It’s time to go,” Silently, Hermione nodded, casting one more glance at the gravestone.
“Harry James Potter,” it read, followed by a date of birth and a date of death, “Loved by many, a hero to all. One that will never be forgotten and always carried in our hearts,” In reading it, she didn’t find the answer she had wished for, but she did find hope. He’d never truly be gone, really…
Putting his arm around her shoulders, Ron guided her away at last, the frostbitten grass crunching beneath their footsteps. The wind began to howl as it whipped around them, but she ignored the way it tossed her hair in her face. Her mind felt devoid of thoughts once more, but it was different than before. This time, she wasn’t searching for an explanation… for once, she had given up on finding an answer to why it had to happen. Yes, destiny had been cruel. But eventually, it’s hidden purpose would come into view.