Chapter 1 : Nothing Lasts Forever
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She walked through the dark and damp corridors of Hogwarts. It was not the bright and noisy Hogwarts she used to know and love. It was unusually silent and the atmosphere was tense. The broad hallway she was strolling through was empty; even the portraits lining the walls were empty. She presumed their occupants might be hiding in the topmost floor, or tower, of the school. Very little light poured inside from a lone window, high on the wall. The air that flowed through it was filled with dust and the smell of blood.
She shook her head and kept walking, occasionally touching the walls and suits of armour with her pale trembling fingers. She had a feeling she would never see them again.
She could hear screams and yells down on the grounds below, but reluctantly, she let her feet, carry her towards Gryffindor Tower. She entered the common room and stared at her fellow house-mates. Some of them were fiddling nervously with the hem of their robes, checking their watches every now and then; and a few looked visibly scared. She looked over at her best friends, Ron and Ginny, who were sitting by the fire-place with Neville Longbottom, her fellow class-mate and a good friend.
Silently, she walked towards them and tapped Ron, who had his back to her, on the shoulder. He yelped and whirled around, whipping out his wand in the process.
“Ron, it’s me!”
Ron lowered his wand when he saw who it was. “Hermione, you scared me,” he said, relief apparent in his voice.
“Ron, it’s time,” Hermione tried to say it calmly but when it came out, it was a hoarse and somewhat choked whisper.
Ron stared at her. She tried to decipher what he was feeling right now, but his expression was fathomless. After a moment, he nodded slowly, as if digesting this little bit of information was tough work. He turned to look at Ginny and Neville, and nodded again. Trembling slightly, but with a determined air, they got up and together the foursome marched towards the portrait hole.
Each and every Gryffindor was watching them, apprehensively, fearing the worst. Ron looked at Hermione and swallowed. She smiled at him and gave his hand a reassuring squeeze. He returned her smile, rather weakly, and turned back to the others.
Ron’s eyes swept around the room. “The time has come, Gryffindors,” he rumbled. The emotion in his voice was palpable. “to help our fellow witches and wizards.” He looked at them impressively, and Hermione noticed his eyes darken.
“The time has come,” he roared, “to fight for our right to exist. Let’s show them what true Gryffindors are made of.”
This little speech boosted everybody’s courage and, without a word, they followed Hermione, Ron, Ginny and Neville out of the warmth of their common room into the cold, dusty air of the castle. Slowly, and being as quiet as possible, the Gryffindors crept down the stairs.
The smell of blood and the sound of screams and yells grew stronger as they neared the large oak front doors, except that they didn’t look like doors anymore. One of the doors was lying on the marble floor of the entrance hall, unevenly broken in two, while the other was dangling on its hinges. This part of the castle was completely ruined from the explosion that had taken place earlier that evening, when Voldemort and his followers had attacked. The explosion was so powerful that it had shaken the whole school.
Hermione remembered her last encounter with Voldemort and shuddered. It had been a narrow escape. She, Ron and Harry had already managed to find and destroy three of the horcruxes without Voldemort’s knowledge, but he somehow found out about their mission and had ambushed them when they were about to retrieve the sixth and the last horcrux. Luckily, they managed to escape with it and destroy it afterwards.
The horcruxes destroyed, the trio had returned to Hogwarts a month after the New Year. How the school and classes carried on without Dumbledore around, Hermione never understood. With the tragic demise of Albus Dumbledore and what with Voldemort’s looming threat, the eyes of the wizarding world fully opened, and the horror and significance of the impending war finally sank in.
Everybody traveled in groups; even the laughter that rang through the tense halls sounded artificial and shrill, and was quickly stifled. Somehow the contents of the prophecy had leaked out and people came to know what Harry Potter, the boy-who-lived, held in his hands.
And now, the day had come to fulfill the prophecy. To Hermione, it seemed like days, but in reality only a few hours had passed since Harry had been summoned by Professor McGonagall and Remus Lupin. And now, Hermione, Ron, Ginny and Neville, with their own little army, would be joining them in the fight for freedom.
Hermione glanced at Ginny. She had said nothing at that time, just bid Harry goodbye, when Hermione had burst into tears and Ron had collapsed on the couch, horror-struck. Ginny had the same hard, blazing look, Hermione knew, Harry admired so much.
Hermione had been so absorbed in her thoughts that she didn’t realise they were already on the battle field, and the others had scattered, but a sharp nudge from Ron brought her back to the present. She looked around and gasped.
The battle was ferocious. The Order of the Phoenix (which had recruited more members after Dumbledore’s death) was bravely dueling with the Death-Eaters, but it was clear that it were still outnumbered. It was lucky the Gryffindors had joined them. Everywhere Hermione looked, she could see blood and dead bodies of both the warring parties.
On her left, Fred and George were sending a whole lot of curses and hexes at Lucius Malfoy, who flicked his wand lazily, blocking all of them; on her right, Tonks was taking on two death-eaters single-handedly. Gripping her wand tightly in her hand, Hermione plunged in.
“Stupefy,” she shouted, pointing her wand at one of the masked death-eaters Tonks was fighting. A jet of red light shot out from her wand and struck him in the head. Stunned, he hit the ground hard. Without wasting time, Hermione sped in the opposite direction where she caught a flash of red hair.
Antonin Dolohov was sending spells and jinxes at Ginny, who was too busy dodging them to return with some of her own. Hermione remembered Dolohov from the Department of Mysteries fiasco; the death-eater who had caste a dangerous non-verbal spell on her, for which she had to spend days in the hospital wing. Her blood boiled and the urge for revenge took over her. She ran towards him as he shot Ginny with a body-bind curse, which hit her squarely on the chest.
“Impedimenta,” screeched Hermione, slowing him down. Then she proceeded to do the same slashing motion with her wand, which he had done on her two years ago. Immediately a ray of purple light emitted from her wand. She felt triumphant when she saw his eyes widen in shock as the curse hit him.
She revived Ginny and they both sprinted off in different directions. Ginny went over to shield Seamus Finnigan, who was leaning over someone’s body Hermione couldn’t see, from the death-eater who he had been dueling with. Meanwhile, Hermione engaged herself in a duel with a death-eater she had never seen before. Out of the corner of her eye, she could see Remus Lupin in a fierce wand-fight with Bellatrix Lestrange. Both of them were firing spells at each other so fast, they were a blur.
Hermione whirled around, instantly, as Charlie Weasley’s life-less body hit the ground with a thud. She let out a strangled cry and started to step forwards to his body, but a sudden horrible pain shot up from her leg and she fell down.
There was a large cut on her left leg. Looking up, she saw the death-eater smirking satisfactorily. Furious with herself for letting her guard down, she got up wincing in pain, and faced her opponent.
“Sectumsempra,” she yelled, conveniently forgetting for a moment that this spell was dark magic. Deep gashes and cuts appeared on the death-eater’s chest and arms, and blood spurted from them everywhere.
“NOOOOOO!” a familiar voice came from somewhere behind her.
Hermione panicked. Did she want to know who else had met their end? She looked, disgusted, at the death-eater who was now lying at her feet gasping for air. Slowly, but surely, she turned and promptly spotted the person who had shouted.
George Weasley was on his knees beside his twin, who was lying spread-eagled on the hard, sandy ground, a trickle of blood oozing from his forehead. George was holding Fred by his shoulders and shaking him roughly, tears rolling down his cheeks.
“No please, Fred. Get up! Don’t do this to me…FRED…”
Blinded by tears, Hermione looked away. No, not another Weasley. Anybody but them. They were a second family to her. How many others were going to end up like Fred and Charlie? She thought of Mrs. Weasley and sobbed even harder.
From then on, everything was a fast-moving blur for Hermione. She watched Dean Thomas, Parvati Patil, Dennis Creevey, Ernie Macmillan and many more succumb to death.
She watched as Mad-Eye Moody was killed. It had taken four death-eaters to get rid of him.
She watched, tears spilling from her eyes, McGonagall fall defeated, on the earth, by a killing curse from Fenrir Grayback.
She watched as, in return, Bill Weasley killed Grayback, who was the reason Bill looked so wolf-like now.
She watched, while jinxing three death-eaters at the same time with a powerful spell, as Draco Malfoy, who had come to the good side, finally got rid of his pest of a father.
She watched as Professor Sinistra was tortured to insanity, just like the Longbottoms, and then murdered.
She was becoming weak now, what with all the dueling and getting hit twice with a hex. She was exhausted. Her leg was bleeding badly. She had a deep cut on her cheek, and bruises over her elbows and knees due to have fallen down a few times in her pain.
The only thing she wanted to do, right now, was find Ron. He will protect me, my Ron will protect me, she thought faintly, staggering past Luna Lovegood, who was bending over a bleeding Neville, and towards a head of red, hoping it would be Ron.
It was Ron. And standing in front of him with a smug expression on his face was --
“Snape!” Hermione said in a hard voice.
“Ah yes, the insufferable know-it-all,” he smirked, looking at her. “We meet again. I was just telling Weasley, here, how I missed you all. You know, I love tormenting students.”
Hermione gritted her teeth. “You horrible, cold-blooded mur –,” she started to say but stopped, her eyes widening, when she heard him cry, “Crucio!”
White-hot knives stabbed and pierced every part of her body. The pain was so intense; she no longer knew where she was. She just wanted to die. She heard a scream “No!” and it suddenly stopped.
Shaking uncontrollably, Hermione stood up and scrambled towards Ron, who was shaking too but not with fear – with fury – his wand pointing at a now upside down Severus Snape.
“GO! Hermione, get out of here,” Ron shouted. “You are not…”
“I am fine, Ronald,” she stated firmly, her eyed flashing dangerously. “Drop him,” she commanded.
Ron looked at her strangely, but did what she said and dropped Snape hard on his head. Hermione raised her wand. She felt all the hate and loathing that she had bottled up, against this pathetic excuse of a human being, since seven years; and gathering whatever energy that was left inside her, she conveyed Snape’s, her former professor’s, ultimate doom.
She watched Snape fall backwards with a thump, his eyes wide with horror. Hermione slumped down, covering her bloody and tear-stained face with her trembling hands. She had done what she had intended never to do in her life – kill a human. But Snape was worth it! She thought bitterly, he was definitely worth it.
She hadn’t noticed that she had laid back. All she noticed was big colourful butterflies dancing before her eyes. Ron’s yells seemed far away. She could feel the warmth of her blood spilling from the gash on her leg. She heard a muffled cackle, which she knew to be Bellatrix’s and the faint voice of Professor Lupin shout “TONKS!”
Hermione slowly opened her eyes. Her vision was slightly hazy and blurred, but she could see Ron sitting besides her holding her hand. She could no longer feel the warmth of his hand on hers.
“Oh, Hermione. Thank God. I thought you were…” but Ron didn’t complete his sentence. He watched, absent-mindedly, as Remus Lupin fulfilled his life’s desire and avenged his best friend’s death by killing Bellatrix.
Then, suddenly, his expression changed and he pointed somewhere. “Look who came back!” he exclaimed excitedly, putting his arm around Hermione’s shoulder.
Hermione raised her head slightly and squinted in the direction Ron was pointing. Her vision was still blurred, but she could make out a completely bedraggled Harry Potter emerge from the Forbidden Forest, with robes torn and bloodied but a definite grin plastered on his face.
Harry won! We won, Hermione thought happily. Voldemort was dead and the wizarding world was finally free of the dark monster that had ruled and terrorised them for years. With a vague smile on her face, as she saw Ginny throw herself at Harry, Hermione slumped backwards.
“Hermione, please. Don’t leave me,” pleaded Ron. A few tears fell on her face. She opened her eyes to find out that she couldn’t even make out Ron’s face properly.
But she didn’t mind anymore. She would be in Ron’s arms when she left and that’s what mattered. “Don’t cry, Ron,” she whispered. “Nothing Lasts Forever.”
Conveying these last words, Hermione’s world went blank as her eyes closed and she proceeded into the next great adventure.
A/N. Hi guys, I'm back. I will once again apologize to those who read my first fic but as I said before, it had to be deleted due to some problems.
I always thought that the final duel between Harry & Voldemort would be...sorta...private, so there. I would really like to know what you think about it so plz review