Chapter 1 : Once Upon A December
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things I almost remember,
and a song someone sings,
Once Upon A December.
Someone holds me safe and warm.
Horses prance through a silver storm.
Figures dancing gracefully, across my memories.
Far away, long ago,
glowing dim as an ember,
things my heart used to know,
things it yearns to remember,
and a song
Once Upon A December
To minimize confusion: Italics are what she remembers . . . bold italics is general background information
The room was white. The sheets, walls, even the floor were a bleached white. There were obvious attempts to detract from the starkness of the room. A potted plant here, a piece of art there, but the fact still remained; it was a white prison.
And that's how he felt. Imprisoned. Trapped in not only a white cell, but inside himself too. Surrounded by familiarities that were now strange, and many things had become inferior. Things like food.
Nothing mattered besides the girl lying enmassed in white on the bed before him, her eyes closed. Her eyes had been closed and she had been unresponsive for three and a half weeks now.
And it was completely his fault.
All of a sudden there was brightness, or a muted darkness at least. Her limbs felt heavy, her neck too cramped to move.
She took a deep shuddering breath and it was like breaking the surface of a lake after you've been underwater too long. She gasped air into her lungs and her eyes flew open.
Somewhere in the distance there was the clattering of a chair falling to the ground and heavy footsteps approached her at a quick pace.
She looked up at him , his blonde hair hanging over his eyes, which were rimmed with red. He looked truly dreadful.
"Hermione . . .?" He asked gently. His eyes were now glossy and his voice shaky as he put a cold hand on the side of her face.
Never . . . Never in any of his nightmares could he have imagined what she said next, and he had three and a half weeks worth of nightmares floating around his mind.
No, this was so horrible that he could never have even imagined it. She looked at him and uttered the three cruelest words he had heard in a life full of many cruel words.
She looked at him with those big brown eyes, her face pale and her hair hanging limp and stopped his heart.
"Who are you?"
Surely there was someone else in the room . . He looked around for any sign of life besides them and the potted plant, but they were alone.
Surely then there was a large boulder on his chest, or at least that's what it felt like. The air was constricting in his throat and there was a sharp pain under his breastbone like a sharp poker had been permanently embedded in his skin.
He stroked the hair off her face and tucked it behind her ear. "It's me." he whispered, trying to hold back tears that had been threatening to spill for weeks. Three and a half weeks. "Draco."
"I'm sorry . . . but I really don't know you . . ." She said with a slightly frightened expression.
He pushed himself up and forced himself to turn his back on her as silent tears started to spill and he tried to wipe them away.
"I'm sorry . . ." The feeble voice behind him said. The voice that he could remember vowing to love him forever, no matter what. "I'm sorry, but . . . where am I?"
He sniffed and drew his sleeve across his eyes and then turned back to her. "You're in St. Mungo's." He forced himself to say.
She was silent for a moment and he wondered if she remembered the hospital. He assumed she did because her next question was, "How long have I been here?"
She remembered the hospital . . but not him . . .
He turned from her and sat in a chair as far away as he could. "Almost four weeks." He said. Three weeks, four days and six and a quarter hours his mind screamed.
"Oh." She said weakly. She was then silent for a few minutes. He watched her fiddle with the sheet draped over her legs and was surprised when she then looked up and tears were streaming down her face.
"Why can't I remember anything?" She whispered, pain dripping like syrup from every syllable. "Why am I here? What happened to me?!" She cried out, severely distressed.
Draco went to stand and the room started to spin around him. He reached back to grip the arm of the hard wooden chair, scrabbling for something to anchor himself, but his attempts were in vain and his hand slipped off the wood as if it were wet and his legs folded beneath him. All he could see was black.
Stars danced before his eyes, distracting him from the jarring sensation caused by his knees' impact with the ground. The last thing he heard was Hermione's shrill cry and the pound of footsteps coming towards him . . . many pairs of feet. . . Then his mind slipped into the hell of his memories. There was no sanctum in his thoughts.
Hermione sat upright in her bed, staring off into the darkness that the night had wrought on her room.
She kept glancing over at the blonde male in the bed in the corner of her room. The sheets twitched as he moved in his sleep. She had been truly frightened when he had fallen earlier and had called for help. She just couldn't understand what it was about him . . . but something drew her to him.
She had the odd urge to wrap her arms around the young man and comfort him when it became evident he was having a nightmare. But she stayed rooted where she was, because although this man seemed to know her, she had no recollection of his face.
Yet, she could see it in the boy's face when he looked at her . . . a desperation that almost dripped off his face like water droplets. He loved her . . but who was he?
She covered her face with her hands . . . why could she not remember anyone?
Three hours later Draco woke up to agonizing, heart wrenching sobs. He was on his feet instantly and at her bedside. She was sobbing and saying a name over and over again in her sleep.
He had a quick flashback to a scene just like this only a few weeks ago, and as he wrapped his arms around her the word reached his ears.
And he realized it was exactly like those nights.
"Harry . . . Harry. . ." She mumbled as she thrashed in her dream.
Carefully and gently as possible he woke her. Stroking her hair and whispering words of comfort.
As she came to she noted that she was in someone's arms . . they felt. . .familiar and right.
She relaxed her body into who ever was whispering to her. Those words . . . they were sentiments one sweetheart whispered to another in the darkest part of the night.
She would have pushed away, in fact she went to do just that but she breathed in.
The scent that filled her nose was delicate . . .
That smell . . . it's so familiar . . . where have I smelt that . . .
An image flashed before her mind, taking her vision away temporarily.
It was a dark room. Not a frightening dark, but a comfortable dark. There was a candle or two lit and she could smell pine and fir. She noticed it was snowing outside the window and there was a fire crackling in a large and overly ornate hearth to her right.
Directly in front of her was the most spectacular Christmas Tree she had ever seen. It looked as if it would fly away at any moment, propelled by silver tinsel and red ribbons.
It felt as if she were inside and outside her body at once, watching a move and playing the lead simultaneously. Two arms snaked around her waist from behind and a low husky voice whispered in her ear.
"It's not as beautiful as you, you know." The voice declared.
She giggled and was turned abruptly, her lips captured by someone else's and a large and gentle hand on the small of her back, holding her tightly to a rather warm body.
As their lips broke away from each other he pulled her against him and she settled her face into his neck, breathing deep.
There. That was it. The sent . . .
But before her mind fully grasped it, it was gone, a wispy nothing.
The memory had taken mere seconds to flash before her eyes and she had just muttered that name again.
Harry . . .
But her conscious mind couldn't figure out who 'Harry' was.
"Harry's dead Mione . . . he died in the quidditch accident . . .you're having nightmares again."
"What a beautiful day here on the quidditch pitch of Hogwart's! Today's match, Gryffindor verse Hufflepuff . .. which Gryffindor has in the bag . . . determines the house cup! Now coming on to the pitch! The Huffleupff team! Led by captain Rosie Laramia! My isn't she looking simply devine today . . .you know I have been telling her that for weeks now but- Professor McGonagall! You look devine as well today! Of course I'm only stating what the crowd needs to know . . . no you don't need to take the mic . . . Ah! And here they are now! Clad in scarlet and gold! Walking onto the pitch . . . the heroes of the day . . . led by captain Harry James Potter! GRYFFINDOR!"
Hermione smiled and cheered along with the rest of the crowd as her best friend walked onto the pitch with his head held high and a confident looking team behind him.
Shaking her head, she wondered why Ron had been allowed to spokesman the match.
She looked around as Harry and Rosie approached each other to shake hands, most of the spectators were lad in scarlet and gold.
And although the young man beside her was not, she couldn't have loved him more.
"And they're off!" Ron's voice echoed throughout the stadium.
"Gryffindor or Hufflepuff?" Hermione asked the blonde next to her with a smile.
He frowned. His arms were crossed against his chest and his eyes hardly lifted to watch the game. "Hufflepuff." He murmured.
"You're just still sore that Harry flounced your team and destroyed your chance for the house cup." She said.
"You could say that." He answered.
"And that's the youngest Weasley with the quaffle! Now the youngest Spinnet . . hot that one's older sister is . .down to Creevey . . across to Barner. . . back to Weasley . . Bloody hell just put it in the hoop! . .right ... sorry Professor . . ."
"I don't understand why she let's him continue." Hermione chuckled.
About an hour and a quarter later the game was tied and the stress and strain was apparent on both captains and teams.
"Harry only has one time out left . . and the team is wiped." Hermione observed.
"Hmph." Draco said.
"Poor loser." Hermione retorted.
Harry was straining his eyes every which direction, but had not caught sight of the golden ball yet. The only comfort was that the Hufflepuff seeker was as perplexed as he. He wondered if Madame Hooch had perhaps forgotten to release it . . .
A glint of gold caught his attention. It was only a reflection in the corner of his glasses, but he was positive it was the snitch.
So positive that he turned abruptly to follow it. He noticed too late that it had been merely the sun reflecting off that damned gold necklace one of his chasers always wore.
And he never saw the bludger coming.
His beaters never saw it either. Later it was wondered why the bludger had been heading in his direction, but all four beaters swore the same thing; they never touched nor saw it.
The bludger hit him in the side of the head, breaking his nose and causing irreparable damage to the right side of his face. His vision went blurry and his hands released the broom, and he plummeted.
He dropped sixty three feet out of the sky.
"Harry!" Hermione screamed in horror. It all happened so fast that no one had the chance to pull their wand.
The fall didn't kill him.
But his neck snapped when he collided with the ground, and that did.
Draco remember Hermione flying onto the pitch with tears in her eyes, screaming that name over and over . . . pleading with him, even though it was already too late.
Draco had immediately forgotten his soreness over quidditch in the face of death.
Because Harry was dead.
The loss of her best friend had been a huge weight on her chest for weeks before she had collapse inwardly and confided in Draco.
It was rather ironic really, the Dark Lord had not been able to fulfill his task of murdering Harry, and The Order of the Pheonix had won the day and the war. Four months later, Harry had died in the freak quidditch accident.
And there were still DeathEaters walking out there in the wizarding world.
At the thought of DeathEaters the hair on the back of his neck stood up and a chill ran through his body.
He knew exactly what had happened and he would give everything he owned to go back to that night and change what had happened.
But he couldn't . . . he could never rectify what had been done.
He was still rocking her back and forth when she fell back to sleep. He gently laid her head back on the pillow and pulled the sheet up and over her.
The healer had said that it was not odd in the slightest that there were only certain things she could not remember, after all, the spell had been aimed to erase only certain things, and had been quite successful.
They said it was odd though . . . something was not quite right. If the spell had done everything it was supposed to then it should have replaced the memories it had erased with fake memories.
It was quite obvious that it had not because she knew she could not remember.
So something was blocking the curse from completely fulfilling what it had been cast to do.
He was as puzzled as they, but his thoughts were interrupted by Hermione. She was still asleep but a slight smile graced her lips. He kissed her forehead and hoped that at least her dreams were unplagued by the curse.
After their embrace he grabbed her hand and pulled her to a small table that she hadn't noticed earlier.
He pulled her chair out and waited patiently while she looked in awe at the scene. The snow was falling heavier than it had been only a few moments ago. The only light was from the couple of candles and the fireplace, and of course the lights on the tree.
The tablecloth was a deep emerald green and all the place settings were silver, even the candles on the table.
He laughed and she looked up at him, surprised. "Are you going to sit?" He asked amusedly.
She hurried over and did as he asked as he sat down across from her.
Over the course of the dinner they talked about everything and she noted a deep burning feeling she had for the young man sitting across from her.
When she was with him there was only the here and now. She loved how his cheeks crinkled when he laughed and the way his hair fell across his forehead. She loved his hands; their shape and the way they moved. She loved how his eyelashes were slightly on the long side and even how he sat; his back straight and jaw firm. His elbows never rested on the table.
Dreams have a way of pulling you into them and whisking you away. There is nothing you can do to stop them and no handle to steer where they take you.
So she felt dragged along against a swift current, with no control over her body, her mind or even her emotions, and with a young man who seemed so familiar.. . . but so strange.
She noticed that it was snowing outside and the tress were all dusted in white.
The scenes that keep flashing before her, what were they? Were they her memories? Or a fantasy her mind had created?
She sighed and put a hand to her forehead. There had to be something that could trigger her forgotten memories . . . but what?
She looked towards the window and jumped. That blonde was sitting hunched over in a chair by the window. How long had he been staring at her?
"You're still here." She said in a half question - half statement voice.
"I'm still here." He said back quietly.
"Why?" She asked, harsher than she meant to.
He rose from the chair and crossed the room to her in three purposeful strides. He loomed over her. She looked up at him and for the first time, their eyes met.
She gasped and he leant down and took her lips with his own. There was a desperation in that kiss. His lips were on fire, but something clicked when she felt the tears sliding down his cheeks.
"Come here." He said with a smile as he took her hand and pulled her towards the gargantuous Christmas Tree she had noticed earlier.
"I have a surprise for you."
"For me?" She asked meekly.
He deposited her on the couch and pulled a circular box from underneath the tree. He handed it to her and she looked at it in awe.
"Thank you." She said.
"You haven't even opened it yet." He said.
She looked at the small parcel and lifted it gingerly from her lap.
"I don't have to see what it is to be thankful." She pointed out. "Besides, I'm sure I'll love it."
"I'm sure you will too." He said.
She carefully peeled back the wrappings to reveal a scarlet velour box. She raised wide eyes to his smiling face and he nodded for her to continue.
She lifted the lid and almost dropped the box in surprise. He took it from her shaking hands and slipped the ring on her finger.
"Marry me Hermione." He said in a husky whisper.
She mutely looked down at the ring. The centerpiece was a roaring lion with a ruby in it's mouth and a serpent draped around it's neck with an emerald for an eye.
"Will you marry me Hermione?" He whispered.
She nodded and then looked at him and found her voice.
"Yes! Yes I'll marry you!" She said as she catapulted into his arms.
But the embrace was broken apart by the front door blowing in.
"Get behind me." He hissed to her.
She did as he asked without protest.
A curling mist was snaking in through the empty doorway and there was an awful hissing sound. Then five dark figures appeared in the doorway and slowly stepped into the room.
With a quick wand wave, the door slammed shut behind them.
"Deatheaters." Hermione whispered in a poisonous tone. "Don't you know, your master's dead." She shot at them.
"Hush Hermione." Her fiancé whispered to her, then went on to ask. "What do you want?" In a venomous tone.
"Just the girl." the first one replied.
"Never." He hissed, putting his arms out to the side to further shield her.
The Deatheater in front, the one who had spoken first, continued. "Your father wants her, boy."
"My father can rot in hell. Along with the rest of you, and his 'master'. He said in a mocking tone .
The deatheater raised his wand and said, "We have a new master now" while the deatheater behind him forced him to lower his wand.
"The master wants them unharmed." He said, then directed his voice towards them. "Come willingly or we'll be forced to take certain . . . measures." He cast a hungry eye over Hermione.
"You will not touch her." He spat back.
"Then you'll come willingly."
He looked at his fiancé and she weakly smiled at him and nodded. He took her hand and helped her to stand and when she was on her feet, pulled her lips to his.
He pulled back and looked at the first deatheater. "Fine." He said.
"Good." The first deatheater said.
As Hermione stepped forward, she was snatched away by very cold hands and then her captor disapperated.
"No!" She could hear her fiancé yelling as they disappeared.
When her captor reapperated she fell to the ground and her head hit something hard on the floor. She felt groggy for a moment, and then everything went black.
When she came to again, her head was pounding. She put a hand gently to the side of her face and when she pulled it away it was moist and sticky. She looked around her and jumped with a start. She was in a study of some sort . .. and there were many eyes staring at her.
They all had their hoods thrown back so she could see their mocking expressions. Frantically she searched for her lover, but her eyes fell not on him, but on his father.
She backed away until she noticed that he was walking towards her and dragging something, or someone.
Upon closer scrutiny she saw that he was indeed dragging a very bloody, bruised and unmoving somebody by the collar of their shirt.
It wasn't until it was dropped in front of her that she realized who it was.
"No!" She screamed as he deposited the body before her. Please don't let him be dead, she begged in her mind.
A low laughter filled the room and she looked up to see that it came from the man before her. Her future father-in-law.
"Get up, Mudblood." He sneered at her while kicking her in the side.
The blow was painful and she wouldn't have been surprised if one of her ribs had cracked.
"I said get up." His voice was low.
She raised her head as high as she could and swore, "I will never do as you bid. You have no power over me."
"I don't?" He asked in an amused voice as he side stepped her and went to his fallen son's side. He grabbed the boy's collar again and lifted him from the ground.
"Get up." He told her.
"No." She whispered with tears in her eyes.
He shrugged and released his son's shirt. He fell with a sickening thud.
She shut her eyes and tried to block the images from her mind and noticed she was shaking.
"You are a stubborn and filthy creature."
"Thank you." She said defiantly.
Lucius shook his head and pointed his wand at his son. "Ennerverate. I want him to see this." He explained.
He moaned as he came to and went to run to Hermione when he saw her on the floor beside his father, but found he was magically bound by invisible chains.
Lucius then used the same spell to bind Hermione.
"Observe, son." He said menacingly as he pointed his wand at Hermione and said, "Crucio!"
The pain was searing. It burnt from the top of her head to the points of her toes. It pulled her apart and caved her in. It was too hot and too cold.
Draco struggled against his bonds. "Leave her alone!" He cried out. "Do what you want with me! Just .. . please . . .don't hurt her. . . " His bonds were loosening from all his struggling.
Lucius lifted the spell with a hearty laugh and the echoes of his son's pleadings reached her ears.
She grasped the floor, panting. She didn't know that kind of pain existed.
"Now, you may think I'm going to kill her." He said to his son. "Well, I'm not." A relieved and perplexed expression crossed her fiancé's face.
"No." He chuckled as he turned back to her. "I'm going to do something much worse." He was now standing perfectly poised above where she lay gasping for air on the ground. Placed in the perfect spot so that his son could see the full glory of what he was about to do.
"Finite Memoria." He hissed.
"NO!" He struggled and his bonds finally dropped away from him. "No!" He reached her just as her body went limp and she fell to the ground. Her pulse was slow, but she was still alive.
"No . .. " He gasped as tears fell on her still face. He leaned over and kissed her softly, but when there was no response anger flowed through him.
"Leave." Lucius demanded the crowd around them.
He waited until he was sure there were alone before he made his move, he would have only one shot.
He flew at his father, blinded by passion and pain. Lucius, unprepared for a nonmagical attack, was knocked off his feet and fell to the ground, his wand skittering across the floor to stop at his son's feet.
He leaned over and picked it up. Then advanced on his father.
"What's the use?" His father taunted.
"What have you done to her!?"
"Something much worse than death." He laughed. "I have planted a seed that will ferment and destroy both of you. Kill me, my revenge is complete. It will wreak on you long after I am dead."
What did you do to her. . ." He said again, his voice shaking.
"I," He said triumphantly, "have destroyed her memories. She'll live, but she'll never look at you with recognition again." He laughed.
"Avada Kedavra!" He yelled and his father fell to the ground with a smile across his face.
He pulled back in shock, looking her in the eyes. They both wore stunned expressions. Had she felt it too? Had she seen what he had? She was gasping for breath, much as he was.
She looked at him and then looked down at her finger and then back at him and then back to her finger.
It wasn't a dream. she thought, because there on her finger sat the intertwined gold lion and snake.
and that meant . . .
"Draco." She whispered.
"Oh Merlin Hermione." He exclaimed in a whoosh of breath as he threw his arms around her. He couldn't hold her tight enough. He couldn't get her close enough. "Hermione."
She closed her eyes. "It was you . . . the whole time . . . " The she pushed him back. "What happened? I know that curse . . . it . . it's supposed to erase everything . . or the object the one wielding the wand wishes .. but you were still there . . in the back of my mind. . ."
He pulled her to him. " I don't know." He admitted in a soft whisper. "But maybe . .. you know how Vodemort could never touch Harry? . . . Maybe it's the same reason . . ."
"Love?" She whispered back.
He nodded. "Because I love you more than the air I breath. . . maybe that's why you were saved."
She smiled. "I love you too." She whispered.
"Then that's it." He said as he pulled her to him and she started laughing. "What?" He asked.
"It's just .. it's so ridiculous . .. like a fairytale . .. " She admitted. "True love conquering all obstacles . .."
He looked thoughtful for a moment and then shrugged. "Maybe all those fairytales are true."
"Maybe." She murmured into his shoulder. "Maybe . . . " She laughed again. "Once upon a time . . isn't that how they all start?"
"We have a time. . . " He said picking her up and kissing her. "We have forever."
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