Chapter 1 : Facing Reality
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In response to DarkDesires' Last Kiss challenge.
Once again it has to be said that I own absolutely nothing. Sad, I know.
Ministry of Magic. Ground floor.
The long corridor that made its way through the ground floor of the Ministry was completely deserted; no one was seen, nothing was heard. Not even the witch that usually occupied a small table right at the entrance could be found at her usual working place. All the offices were empty; no witch was sitting behind their desks flipping through files; no wizard had let anything be scheduled for that very day.
The day of Draco Malfoy’s trial.
Hermione walked along the empty hallway, like she had done many times before, but on that particular day it seemed so much more uninviting and unpleasant, frightening and intimidating. She concentrated on anything that would give away his presence; a cough, a word, any noise that would tell her where he was; that would tell her that he was there.
Hermione quickened her pace and stayed as quiet as possible, tried not to make any sound with her shoes, even tried not to breathe. Her brown curls bounced on her shoulders as her scared and worried eyes scanned the tags next to the many doors that were placed on either side of the corridor, and she let out a small desperate sigh as she reached the end and had not found him yet.
Her eyes fell onto the staircase that led to the underground floor; the floor on which so many awful things had happened; the floor on which Sirius had died. Hermione tiptoed down the few steps and found herself facing another corridor, barely lit and even darker and more mysterious than the previous one.
Her heart hammered wildly in her chest; it bet so loudly that she thought that anyone who would come around the corner could hear it. She tried to calm herself down by in- and exhaling deeply, but her attempt only strained her nerves more and made her body shake even harder.
She continued her walk along the corridor and could suddenly hear noises; loud noises of people chatting and arguing, of enraged witches and wizards, dying to judge over the life of a very young man. She knew they came from the court room, the hall at the end of the corridor, but she tried to avert her eyes from it, not daring to think about what was to be going on inside.
Hermione swallowed hard and stopped dead in her tracks when she heard someone curse under their breath not far away from her. She turned around and went back several steps to the door that she had just passed, bringing her hand up to the door knob. She turned it around in the desperate hope that it would just click and let her enter, but of course it wouldn’t.
Who would keep a murderer in an unlocked room?
She turned the knob into all directions nervously, impatiently fiddling with the key that was stuck in the lock but it wouldn’t move. Hermione sighed and furrowed her eyebrows, taking out her wand and pointing it at the door knob.
“Alohomora”, she nothing but whispered, her heart beating dangerously fast as she heard the much wanted click that allowed her entrance.
She pushed the door open carefully and felt her heart skip a beat when she laid eyes on the handsome, but exhausted looking blonde man in front of her, slowly pacing the tiny room that bore nothing but a wooden desk and a matching chair, not even a window.
He turned his head at the sound of the door opening and gasped at the sight of her, blinking several times and rubbing his eyes, double checking if he was really seeing her or if he was just imagining things.
Hermione closed the door behind her quietly and put the locking charm on it again before crossing the room and immediately standing on her toes to throw her arms around his neck. She could feel him wrap his arms around her waist and cling onto her for dear life, letting out a loud sigh and burying his face in the curve of her shoulder before pulling away from her slightly.
“What are you doing here?” Draco whispered, taking her face into both his hands and staring straight into the troubled chocolate eyes.
Hermione opened her mouth to answer, but found that her voice had gone and her body was now shivering wildly, even wilder than before, when she saw the frightened but determined look in his silver eyes that always softened when he was around her.
“You can’t be here, Hermione”, he said quietly, not letting go of her face. “It’s too dangerous. If they find you, they will-“
“I don’t care what they’ll do to me”, she answered, trying to find her composure again but swallowing hard at the sound of her own, unsteady voice. She felt her knees grow weak; her hands shaking with fear and stepped up closer to him, draping her arms around his middle and putting her ear against his heart, hearing it beat rather regularly. She closed her eyes and inhaled Draco’s scent; the familiar scent that she so loved, so adored; that she had missed terribly during the past week.
Draco pushed her away from him gently and searched for her eyes again, his gaze soft.
“I care”, he said and dropped his arms, only to take her hands in his and to intertwine their fingers immediately.
Hermione looked from their combined hands back up to his face and let out a small, worried sigh.
“Draco, please, just let me explain everything to them”, she started; begging him again, like she had done endless times before, to let her sort matters out for him. “They’ll understand.”
But he solely shook his head. “No, I can’t let you do that. You know they wouldn’t believe a word you’d say. You know just as well as I do that they would accuse you of assisted murder, you know that they would do to you what they will do to me today.”
Hermione winced at his indication and squeezed his hands tightly, averting her eyes from his, not able to stand his gentle gaze and the deeply running emotions it held for her. She felt the tears well up inside of her, she felt them burning hot inside her eyes, but she swallowed hard and bit them back, determined to stay strong and hide all of her feelings from the world.
If not for her than for him.
Draco let go of her hands and took her face in them again, forcing her to look into his eyes, not saying a word as silence fell over them for several moments and they simply stared into their eyes, both feeling the pain and the sadness the other was going through.
“You’re innocent, Draco”, Hermione stated in a voice barely audible. “You did nothing wrong.”
He nodded at her slightly as he felt a single glistening tear drop from her eye onto his fingers.
“And all I want is for you to believe and remember that. Because no one else will believe me, simply because there is no evidence. Next to me, you’re the only person on this earth who knows what really happened”, he said quietly, caressing her cheek with his thumb gently. “Because you saw it. Because you were there when it happened.”
He kissed her.
They were standing in the overly large backyard of Malfoy Manor, the beautiful green colour of the grass indiscernible, changed; the landscape heavily covered in fluffy, white snow. The air was chilly although the sun shone down through the few clouds that had built on the afternoon sky, and the wind blew through their hair and caressed their faces.
Hermione had come to visit Draco some day in late December; a day that had started out to be so beautiful, so peaceful, so innocent.
Hermione and Draco had met several years after their graduation from Hogwarts; they had bumped into each other one day in Hogsmeade and from the moment they laid eyes onto each other they knew that ancient grudge would not break to new mutiny.
They had been suspicious about each other at first, had not wanted to believe what was happening, what was building up between them; not after seven years of insults and offences, of torments and hatred, of stupidity and ignorance.
They had decided that this accidental meeting, after five years of not seeing each other once, could only have been more than accident, more than coincidence. It was fate, destiny, that was willing to give them another chance; a chance they had never really gotten when they were younger.
Hermione never told anyone about her encounter with Draco, not her parents, not Harry, not Ron and not the rest of the Weasleys; neither did she inform them when the initial chemistry that had sparked when they had met in Hogsmeade transformed into something far purer, far deeper, than anything either of them had ever felt or experienced. They kept their love a secret; for the sake of their family’s sanity and security; for the sake of themselves.
Nearly eight months after the fateful day, Hermione finally arrived at the Manor to spend Christmas with Draco in his home; both wanting to enjoy their alone time before facing the world and the people in it; the people who would cast them confused looks, looks full of surprise and loath; when revealing their secret.
He kissed her.
Draco spun Hermione around in the snow, waltzed with her in circles across the entire backyard, laughing happily before stopping and looking into her eyes again seriously. He brushed her hair out of her face and cupped her chin, capturing her full, cold lips with his own and drowning himself in the feeling they would always give him.
The two wrapped their arms around each other and held onto the other for dear life, never wanting to let go again, not ready to let anyone tear them from their lives every again.
They thought there was no one who would ever be able to do that again.
But, of course, they had underestimated one person.
The two pulled away from each other when they heard silent footsteps in the snow coming closer to them and spun around, only to widen their eyes in disbelief and shock, both momentarily frozen to the ground when they spotted a man in front of them whom they thought they would never be seeing again.
They thought that Lucius Malfoy was locked away safely in Azkaban and would never in his life see daylight again.
“Lucius”, Draco hissed, both shocked and disgusted, not having been able to call him father anymore for many years that had passed.
“Draco”, he replied and approached the couple, suddenly drawing his wand out of his pocket quickly and pointing it at his son. Draco immediately stepped up in front of Hermione, protecting her with his own body as he glared at his father menacingly, wand at the ready; like him.
“Surprised to see me, son?” Lucius asked and shot his son an amused death glare.
“I am not your son!” Draco yelled at his father and held his arm out, wand pointed directly at his chest, his free hand holding Hermione’s arm, making sure she was staying behind him.
“Oh, you are not? There were times when there was nothing more honourable than to be the son of Lucius Malfoy”, he replied and lowered his wand, a bemused look on his face, his gestures and movements completely fear-free.
Draco laughed sarcastically. “You wish.”
Lucius’ face darkened again and he lifted his arm, the tip of his wand almost touching Draco’s, their eyes – those identical steel grey eyes – locked for the last time in both their lives.
“Well, then you know what the answer is, traitor. It’s either you or me”, he stated, his voice low and full of hatred. “But beware. I have seen many foul creatures in Azkaban, I have battled them all and I have made my way out to come and seek you. You are my last target, Draco.”
His son did not respond, he simply shot his father the most hateful look; all the pain and suffering he had caused Draco could be seen in his eyes; all the loathing and hatred towards his father’s actions was displayed in those grey orbs, the last ones that Lucius would ever be seeing.
“Goodbye son”, Lucius said quietly.
A green light shot out of one of the wands, hitting its opponent right in the chest and making him fly high into the air and back several feet. He lay there in the snow, his wand right next to him, his eyes closed, his body unmoving.
Hermione screamed and covered her mouth with her hands, unable to move after watching Draco kill his own father. Despite the surprise and the shock about his power, about what had just happened before her innocent eyes, Hermione knew it had been self-defence; she knew that Lucius would have killed him if he hadn’t reacted; she knew that all of it hadn’t been Draco’s fault.
She stared at him, at the young man in front of her, his eyes cold, empty and hurt; she could see the pain that he was feeling inside, she could see that he knew that killing his father hadn’t been the right solution, but that he hadn’t had any other choice.
Hermione threw her arms around his neck and pushed herself onto him, feeling him cling to her for safety and security; feeling that although it hadn’t been right, the death of his father had washed away all the pain and fear, had washed away what had kept Draco in the prison that had been his life.
On that specific day in the Ministry, only a week after the death of Lucius Malfoy, Draco had to face the jurors and the highest Aurors; the ones who accused him of intentionally murdering his father. He had spent the past week in Azkaban and could clearly say that it had been the worst week of his life. He had been lonely, had been without the one person who kept him sane, had experienced hell on earth.
Seeing her in front of him now, having her in his arms, was like a dream; it was as if his last wish had been answered; seeing the only person that meant something to him, that meant everything to him, the one person he valued more than his own life; for the last time before facing the harshest of all realities. The court, the jurors, the Aurors, and finally the Dementor’s kiss.
“You know he would have killed me”, Draco finally whispered, still looking straight into Hermione’s eyes.
She nodded, unable to form any words and lowered her eyes to the ground.
“Promise”, he continued and lifted her head to make her look at him again, “promise me that you will not say a single word in there. Promise that you will not try to defend me or explain what happened. I do not want you to get involved in this.”
More tears were now rolling down Hermione’s cheeks and were wiped away gently by Draco’s hands.
“This is my destiny, not yours.”
Hermione nodded slightly and let out a small sigh, trying to get rid of the tenseness of her muscles, but failing and simply averting her eyes to his again.
Draco pulled her close to him and enveloped her in his strong arms before closing his eyes and trying to feel as much of her as possible. He let out a sigh that almost felt like a sigh of relief and could feel that the fear of reality had decreased immensely, simply because Hermione had been there with him, simply because the only person he had ever truly cared about knew the truth and would remember him as the person he really was.
Hermione pushed her small body onto him and closed her eyes as she felt his hands move up and down her back soothingly before both of them suddenly heard voices outside on the corridor, voices coming closer to them very quickly.
Draco pushed her off him as gently as possible. “Go.”
Hermione stared at him and threw her arms around him in another close embrace, before she felt him pull away again; for the sake of her own safety.
“Hermione, please go”, he pleaded quietly and brushed her cheek with his palm one last time before he watched her disappear with a small pop.
Hermione’s body was shaking with fear; she couldn’t remember a single other time in her life when she had been nearly as scared. Her hands were numb; she could barely walk, let alone think clearly about what she was going to do next.
She entered the court room and gasped at the sight of hundreds of witches and wizards in the many benches and seats arranged in the large room, impatiently awaiting the condemnation of Draco Malfoy.
Hermione slowly walked along the aisle and spotted a small space that was uncovered in one of the front row benches, directly opposite of the dock that was still empty. She immediately took the seat and folded her hands in her lap, trying not to look too emotionally wrecked so as to not draw any attention to herself.
She scanned the room quickly and blinked as her eyes fell onto the seats occupied by the jurors and Aurors. She sighed as she spotted Cornelius Fudge, the Minister of Magic, sitting in the front row right next to Arthur Weasley and several other employees of the Ministry that Hermione was highly familiar with. She gasped again when she saw Ron and Harry, standing before the overly large crowd, the looks on their faces sterner than she had ever seen them.
Hermione’s heart jumped when a door at the far end of the hall opened and Draco was brought in, accompanied by two dangerous looking wizards who brutally forced him to sit down. His eyes seemed to immediately scan the hall for Hermione and she thought she could see them sparkle when he spotted her.
She overheard the beginning of the trial; she overheard the first few questions and even Draco’s answers, but simply kept her eyes fixed at him, hardly able to bite back the tears when she watched him respond to the questions about the debated day. Her body felt numb; it was as if she had stepped out of it and was watching everything from above.
“So, do you or do you not claim that you have used an Unforgivable Curse on your father?” Hermione suddenly heard someone ask and shook her head, only to let her eyes fall onto the enraged figure of Harry, who was currently questioning Draco.
He simply nodded. “Yes, I do.”
“And do you also claim that it was your intention to kill your father?”
“No, I never said that.”
Draco averted his gaze to Hermione shortly before continuing to speak. “I have never intended to kill my father, as I have said so many times before. He broke out of Azkaban to look for me and to kill me. That’s what he said that day and it was exactly what he would have done if I hadn’t defended myself.”
Harry remained quiet for several seconds. “I’m not buying that.”
Whispering and outraged discussing was going on in the crowd and Hermione was about to jump from her seat and run over to Harry to strangle him.
“Want to know what I think?” Harry asked rhetorically and walked up to Draco, supporting his weight on the table and leaning towards him, his eyes blazing furiously.
“I think that you were always jealous because your father had so much more power and was Voldemort’s number one follower. You wanted your revenge after you didn’t succeed in the tasks you had received; you wanted revenge because your father finished what you couldn’t start. And now you come in here and try to convince me that you never wanted to become like your father, that you were never evil, that you never wanted to torment all of us back at school, that you never had the intentions to kill anyone?”
Harry’s voice rose towards the end of his speech and he leaned towards Draco even further before yelling, “How stupid do you think I am, Malfoy?”
Hermione balled her fists up and felt a tear roll down her cheek as the judge warned Harry to not let his emotions carry him away. She looked at Draco and was surprised at how calm he seemed to be, how calm he was handling the situation.
“I never expected you to believe me”, he then said, making Harry spin around and stare at him, eyebrows raised.
“I told you everything I know, everything I feel and everything I did or did not do. There is nothing more that I have to say and if what I revealed so far does not convince you of my innocence, then … well, so be it.”
Hermione screamed inside, the tears now rolling down her cheeks in streams, but she didn’t bother to wipe them away with her sleeve. She couldn’t believe what he was doing, she couldn’t believe what he was saying; that he was sacrificing himself, that he wouldn’t let her try to explain everything; her, the only witness of the events.
“Very well”, Harry stated and shot Draco a last death glare. “Then I believe the interrogation has come to its end.”
Hermione felt as if her heart stopped beating as Harry went over to his fellow Aurors, apparently discussing the situation with them for a moment. She averted her eyes to Draco again who was staring at her with his soft, silver eyes; almost as if he was saying goodbye to her.
From that moment on everything went far too fast.
“As head of the Auror department”, Hermione heard Harry say, “I see it my responsibility to announce the final decision.”
Everyone in the hall seemed to be holding their breaths as he paused and looked into the crowd, suddenly spotting a crying Hermione; a welled up Hermione who was staring at the enemy in front of her with sympathy, compassion and love in her eyes.
No, Harry thought. He shook his head. He must have misinterpreted it.
“The Ministry of Magic pleads Draco Malfoy guilty of murdering his father, Lucius Malfoy, and announces that he will be facing the Dementor’s kiss immediately.”
Draco closed his eyes, letting the final words sink in.
There had never really been hope that they would let him go, he had never thought that anyone would believe him. Still, hearing what was about to happen to him felt worse than he had expected.
He opened his eyes again and could see Harry stare at him, his hands folded behind his back, waiting for him to step out of the dock and face the final reality.
So he did, with another quick glance at Hermione who looked alarmingly pale, her eyes swollen from crying. Draco now stood in the middle of the court room and let out another sigh as he saw Harry nod at Arthur Weasley, signalling for him to let it happen.
“Nooo!” Hermione suddenly screamed and jumped up from her seat, causing the people in the crowd to look at her both surprised and shocked, hearing them start to whisper among each other loudly. She ran towards Draco and threw herself at him, arms around his neck, and let him lift her off the ground.
She inhaled his scent and kissed his neck as he held onto her before setting her down onto the floor again.
“Hermione, you-“ she heard Harry yell, but she couldn’t make out the rest of the sentence because of the loud noises the crowd was making. Or was it just her heart that was hammering so wildly?
“Why did you do that?” Draco asked her and took her face into his hands again. “You promised, Hermione, you promised not to intervene.”
“MISS GRANGER, YOU WILL-“
“I couldn’t”, she answered, sobbing, “I couldn’t just sit there and let them kill the love of my life before speaking to you one last time.”
And there it was. A smile.
Draco’s face lit up at her words, he smiled at her warmly, feeling how her genuine, pure words affected and touched him deeply, how he wanted to stay with her for the rest of his life.
He pulled her face up to his and captured her lips with his own; he drew her in for the one single sweetest kiss they had ever shared, the one kiss that spoke of the deepest emotion that they had both ever felt in their lives. Hermione pushed herself onto him and brought one hand to the back of his neck to pull him down to her before deepening the kiss.
Their eyes closed, a warm electric wave travelled through their body as their mouths touched. It was their last kiss, the last one they would ever share, the only one that would ever have that effect on them. It was their last kiss, but it felt as if it were the first.
After what felt like eternity, Draco pulled away from her again and opened his eyes to look into hers as he ran his hands through her curly, honey coloured hair.
“Promise you’ll never forget me”, he whispered as he heard the people scream and yell behind them, but while being with her, it seemed they couldn’t harm him yet. “Promise you’ll always remember me as the person I am.”
Hermione nodded her head and felt another tear roll down her cheek. “I swear.”
He smiled at her again before gently caressing her cheek. “I’ll always be with you.”
Hermione smiled back at him and felt her heart melt and break at the same time as someone grabbed her by her arm and pulled her away from him violently. She tried to kick herself free from the strong arms holding her, but she couldn’t and simply saw Draco look at her and smile, a tear now rolling down his own cheek.
“I love you”, he screamed across the entire hall as Hermione was forced to stand several feet away from him. She could see someone open a door and was almost sure that Draco’s time had now come.
“I love you”, she shouted back in between her tears and sobs. “I love you.”
Draco averted his smiling face from her and saw the Dementor come up to him, saw how it lustfully approached him, ready to end everything that had ever been good within him and his life. He glanced at Hermione one last time before holding his head up high, facing reality.
Hermione cried and shouted, kicked and screamed at the men who were holding her captive, protesting wildly with her body, begging them to let Draco stay with her, to let him live, but it was of no use.
It was his destiny.
I really hope you all liked this lil' thing. It was amazing to write, very emotional.
.. it being my entry for the Last Kiss Challenge ... did you all recognize the irony with Dementor's kiss?
thank you muchísimo to all those who read. please leave me a lil' review, whatever you may think about it.
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