A sheen of sweat glistened over her face as she clenched her wand, her knuckles white from the strain. The exhaustion of the battle was slowly taking its toll, but she pushed the sensation aside and steeled herself for the fight that lay ahead. She was now face to face with her most loathed adversary. Harry had Voldermort, and she had him.
She eyed him cautiously sizing up his possible weaknesses and looking for a tactical advantage. There was no question it would come to this. Every single one of their dealings had been fraught with conflict and strife. Every glare, every hurled insult, and every vicious hex had brought them to this moment. Draco Malfoy was her nemesis and it was her right to take him down.
When he had initially come upon her, he was hit with an onslaught of different emotions. Fear, anticipation, hatred, and excitement all rolled through him like a tidal wave. This was it. It was almost as if he’d been hunting for her from the onset of this battle.
As he fought to gain the upper hand, he mused how he would take great pleasure in making this filthy, little mudblood suffer. There was nothing to hold him back now. No threats of detention. No dealing with the incoherent ramblings of that moron Weasley, or the insufferable Potter. Hermione Granger was going to regret the day she ever laid eyes on him.
Between the screaming and shouting, and the constant electrical crack of magic, Ron’s head was beginning to throb painfully. Clutching tightly at the large gash on his brow, he stumbled weakly and awkwardly about the field searching for her. He’d lost track of Hermione, and was becoming desperate in his need to find her. The ache in his temple was growing stronger and he was losing the ability to focus properly.
He turned frantically on the spot, but saw only the smoke and ash of recent conflicts. The screams of before were slowly becoming a muffled hum to his ears. Again he turned, and suddenly spotted her across the field. To his great horror however, she was engaged in a vicious struggle with Malfoy.
Draco had lost his wand and was now trying to wrestle Hermione’s away from her. Ron tried to move toward them, but as he did so, he stumbled and his legs gave out. As an awful weakness started to overtake him as he watched them wrestle desperately against each other. In a jumble of arms and hands that fought for control, the wand disappeared between them, and then quite suddenly, a brilliant burst of light flashed from where their bodies were pressed tightly together. As he lay there, the last thing he saw before unconsciousness claimed him was both Hermione and Draco’s huddled, clutching forms collapse to the ground in an unmoving heap.
FIVE YEARS LATER…
Ronald Weasley walked the Ministry halls toward his department with a frightening forcefulness. Gone was the sweet, awkward boy who seemed so unsure. His still young features were set in a grim determination and surly demeanor. The war had changed Ron. He was extremely withdrawn now, and made those who did not know him well feel extremely uncomfortable.
After the war, he’d chosen to follow his childhood dream of becoming an Auror. However, his reasons for doing so were vastly altered from his original intentions. Instead of wishing for the thrills and adventure that would accompany such a vocation, he thrived on the need for revenge with, at times, gruesome results.
As his feet pounded viciously along the tiled floor, he moved swiftly to reach his meeting with Mad Eye regarding the latest report of a certain former Death Eater. For the past five years, Ron had made it his personal mission to find Malfoy and bring him to justice. Whether the git actually made it into the hands of the Ministry unscathed or even alive was another matter.
Many believed Draco as well as Hermione had perished the night of the final battle. In the madness and chaos, no one could recall seeing either of them during or after the fight. There were no bodies. Only Hermione’s wand was found broken on the ground where Ron had witnessed their final struggle. Ron’s was the last and only account of them. A funeral was held for Hermione, which Ron staunchly refused to attend, and the magical community found his behaviour appalling.
He didn’t believe for a moment that either was dead. In his heart, he knew Hermione was still alive and was being held hostage by Malfoy. Over the years, Ron had slowly transitioned from a shy teenager into an almost delusional young man. Highly suspicious of everyone, he shared the full extent of his beliefs regarding Hermione and Draco with only Harry and Moody.
Harry, for his part, had grown increasingly worried about Ron. His drive to find Malfoy, who in all likelihood was dead, bordered on the obsessive. Mad Eye did nothing to deter Ron, and at times even seemed to egg him on. Although Moody’s misguided intentions were honourable, he’d grown to love Ron like a son, his actions angered Harry to no end.
Harry couldn’t fault Ron for this drastic transformation though. Alone, Ron had witnessed firsthand the fall of their best friend. It must have been devastating for him to watch her die unable to move, unable to prevent it. Harry’s guilt over failing his two very best friends was boundless.
Despite the fact that Ron had never said anything, Harry knew she’d meant so much more than merely a friend to him. Ron had only just begun to truly understand the depths of his feelings for her when she’d been ripped from his life.
As Ron rounded the final corner before reaching Moody’s secluded office, he slowed his pace to try, and settle the excitement bubbling up inside him. This was it. It had to be. As he opened the door and took in the tense, wired posture of one Mad Eye Moody, he pushed down any indication of anxiety, and asked the question that had been driving him all day.
“What do you know?”
Moody took a moment to pick up a file and then stared unflinchingly at Ron before responding in a deathly calm.
“Have you ever heard of a Muggle suburb of London called Hammersmith?”
IN ANOTHER PART OF LONDON…
Peter walked into his flat carrying the groceries he’d picked up on his way home. He looked around expectantly.
“Sarah!” he shouted. “Sarah? Are you in? I could really use a hand with these if you aren’t too busy.”
He looked in the hall mirror to guage his appearance. He was a mess. The clouds had been threatening rain all day, and as he was making his way home, the sky had opened up.
Although his hair was soaked and clinging to his face, the wetness did nothing to dull the vibrancy of his white blond hair.
Suddenly from down the hall came a voice.
“Well look at what the cat dragged in!”
Turning abruptly, he spotted his chuckling flatmate.
“You’re just lucky you weren’t out there,” he smirked, his steel grey eyes dancing with mischief. “What with how this kind of weather affects your insane mop, we’d never get you through the door for all the frizz.”
She scowled at him and slapped his arm lightly.
“Here, take these into the kitchen for me,” he said handing the bags to her and walking off in the direction of his room.
“I have to change before I catch my death. I’m absolutely drenched.”
“Really,” she quipped, “I hadn’t noticed.”
Without stopping, he simply shouted in response, “Smartass.”
Before turning and heading toward the kitchen, she smiled to herself, and answered sweetly, “Always.”