So, this is the last chapter. I hope you all enjoy it, and PLEASE review, as this is your last chance to do so for this story, and I very much appreciate every review I ever recieve!
Some of you may have seen my Author's Page note saying that I am considering writing a sequel to this story, as a wonderful, haunting idea has riveted me, one that would be fun to pursue.
However, I'm afraid that there will be no sequel, as I simply have no time to write one. College life is hectic, and I am working on an original work that takes just about every bit of my free time. I hope you understand, and enjoy this story sequel-less, and at face value.
Again, please remember to review!!!
Chapter Twenty-Five: Saying Goodbye, Saying Hello
Love is not enough. It must be the foundation, the cornerstone – but not the complete structure. It is much too pliable, too yielding.
Heavy white light came shining in through Hermione’s eyelids. She moaned softly and clenched her eyes together even more tightly. Although this action did mute the intensity of the light, it was still there. Hermione moaned again.
A finger poked into the small of her back, prodding her roughly. Hermione’s eyes snapped open and she let out a small cry as she was momentarily blinded by the bright sun that shone down on her. She squinted her eyes so that the light was not so bad, then whipped around to glare at whoever was behind her.
Her eyes widened. It was Mrs. Weasley, and she was crying. Heavy, putrid tears were streaming down her cheeks as she gazed at a spot far away in the distance. Hermione’s gaze swept to the right: Mr. Weasley, crying. Her gaze continued to travel down the line of chairs, where she found that every single person’s eyes were full of tears. Everyone’s but hers.
It was at this moment that Hermione realized that Ron was holding her hand. His hand was clammy, clenched around hers so tightly that she couldn’t feel her fingers. Hermione tried to worm her hand out of his, but he only tightened his grip. Hermione turned around, exasperated, and opened her mouth. But that was as far as she got.
As she looked at Ron, Hermione found that she could make no sound. His eyes were red-rimmed, glassy, and he was staring at a point far away, while truly not seeing anything. His nose was running and his entire body was shaking, although no tears actually coursed down his cheeks. Hermione laid her other hand on his shaking arm, tried to hold it steady.
“Ron?” she whispered softly. “You okay?”
Ron let out a heavy shudder and a hiccupping sort of sob. “Promise me you won’t ever die,” he whispered, his light voice shaking and shuddering. “Promise me you won’t leave me.”
Hermione’s eyes widened and finally she followed Ron’s gaze, the gaze of everyone around her. Her eyes first swept across a speaking Professor McGonagall and her eyebrows rose; she hadn’t seen her, even heard her. Then her gaze fell on more rows of crying people, on a pile of freshly unearthed dirt. Then a coffin.
Hermione felt her body freeze as she saw the face of the person lying in the coffin. The boy, barely seventeen. No, she thought desperately to herself. She shut her eyes closed tightly, then opened them again, hoping that the image would go away, but it stayed there, continued to haunt her. It didn’t leave. A tear coursed down Hermione’s cheek. Please no, she thought hard. I can’t go through this. Not again.
Suddenly, it was not only Ron who was shaking; Hermione was, too. She closed her eyes, trying to shake the scene of her last moments with Harry. But it wouldn’t leave, just kept playing over and over and over in her mind. The yelling, the screaming, the harsh words. His face as he left her all alone.
Suddenly, Hermione found that she couldn’t breathe. She grasped at the air, but it was too thin, too....not there. Hermione squeezed her eyes even more tightly as she began to cry, silent tears that streamed down her face in great rivers. She still shook.
Hermione opened to eyes upon feeling a hand on her arm. Then arms twisted their way around her, enveloping her in a giant hug. Then Ron’s face was pressed hard against her neck. She could smell his special smell. Her stomach flipped over.
“It’s okay.” His low rumble of a voice was comforting, his arms strong. “I know it hurts, but it’s okay.”
Hermione nodded her head, but tears began to pour down even thicker and heavier than ever. She opened her eyes, and they fell on a white-haired boy sitting across the way. His eyes glittered maliciously and his smirk twisted cruelly across the entire span of his face. He drew his finger over his throat, made a choking sound, and his smirk grew.
Hermione looked away.
Suddenly, McGonagall was stepping down off the speaker’s podium, and everyone else was wiping their cheeks and their noses, pushing themselves up from their lawn chairs. Hermione felt Ron get up beside her, but she found that she could not bring up the strength to stand. Ron offered a hand down to her, but she turned away.
“Just give me a few moments. Please.” Ron hesitated for a moment, then nodded and turned and walked slowly away. He looked back at her slumped form once and almost turned back, but Hermione turned to fix him with her detached, cold gaze. Ron shuddered, turned around, and continued to walk.
Hermione didn’t know how long she sat there. She watched as a few wizards she didn’t know closed Harry’s coffin and lowered it into the ground. She watched as they piled fresh earth on top of the it, then stuck a gravestone into the earth after the dirt. She noticed that Snape was absent and wondered if he had betrayed them all. She couldn’t remember.
Hermione stayed like this, in an almost coma-like state, for a very, very long time. She stared at Harry’s grave until it grew dark and she could hardly see it anymore. Finally, Hermione took a deep breath and stared up at the bright, shining moon. It must be nearly midnight, she realized with a start and pushed herself up. She turned to walk away and ran straight into a white-haired boy with cold gray eyes and a malicious smirk.
Hermione stopped walking. “Malfoy.”
Malfoy stepped close to her, so close that the tip of his nose touched her forehead. Hermione couldn’t help but shiver and step back. Malfoy grinned.
“Have you thought about my offer?” His cold words hung heavy in the air, and a cold shiver ran down Hermione’s spine. She felt frozen, as if a bucket of ice had just been poured over her.
Hermione found that it was difficult to speak. Her throat felt restricted, clogged....closed. “I have,” she whispered.
“And?” Malfoy stepped toward her, his aura of excitement brightly obvious.
Hermione looked down at the ground. It was easier to tell him if she didn’t look at him. “I’m insulted that you’d even ask,” she whispered. She looked at him for a short moment, taking in the shock and hurt etched into the premature lines of his face, and felt a short twinge of guilt, but it was just that: short fleeting. Hermione turned to walk away, but Malfoy came stalking after her.
“Hermione!” he hissed, his eyes shining red and mad in the moonlight. Hermione shivered and turned her eyes away from the inhuman sight. But Malfoy was having none of that. He grabbed her arm in a vice grip and pulled her back against him. “I promised you a life. I promised Ron safety!” He tilted up her chin so that her eyes met his. “With the Dark Lord running rampant, that’s more than many could offer you.”
Hermione lowered her gaze and pulled herself roughly out of his grip. “I appreciate the offer,” she snarled, “but no.” Then she was off again, this time running away instead of walking.
Still Malfoy ran after her, not yet willing to let her go. “Hermione, please!” he called out, and Hermione stopped and looked back at him, surprised and stunned by the raw emotion, the pain, coursing through his voice.
Malfoy caught up to her, his breath ragged from running. He laid a hand gently on Hermione’s shoulder. “Sixteen months, Hermione. Sixteen months, three days.” Hermione tried to look away, but Malfoy forced her to look at him. She drew in a quick breath of surprise as she realized that he was crying. He fell to his knees, kneading the moist, damp dirt with his fingers. “How can you forget all we’ve done? All we’ve been through.”
Suddenly, Hermione found that she couldn’t stay. She ran away from Malfoy’s figure as fast as she could. She tripped and dove headfirst into a muddy puddle, but barely hesitated for a moment before pushing herself up and running once more.
“Hermione, I love you!” Malfoy’s voice, bared and stripped naked, echoed through he night. Hermione clutched her hand to her heart and once again stopped running. She turned around to look at Malfoy’s pathetic figure, down crying on the ground. He looked like he was in agony.
Draco looked up at her through blood-shot eyes. “I love you,” he whispered hoarsely. “I don’t want to, but I love you so much. Please, say you’ll marry me?”
Hermione looked away, across the grounds of Hogwarts. “I can’t,” she whispered harshly. She wiped muddy hands across her tearing eyes. “I just can’t.” She turned away to leave.
“Hermione!” Hermione stiffened at the sound of him calling her name and she found that she couldn’t move: she couldn’t run, but neither could she turn around and look at him.
“What?” Her voice was hard, taut, scared, uncertain.
“You love me, too, I know you do.” Hermione began to walk, but still Draco continued to speak. “You love me! So, why not marry me?”
Hermione turned around and walked back towards him. She leaned down and pulled him off the ground. He was trembling so badly, crying so hard, Hermione had to help him stand. He buried his head in her shoulder. “How can you hurt me so bad?” he whispered softly. His shaking worsened. “How can you do it, when you know I love you so much?”
Hermione let in a shaky breath and tried to smile. “I know you love me,” she whispered into his ear, and he gave her a pained, surprised smile. “Believe me, I know it, and I love you too.” Tears streamed heavier from Draco’s gray eyes, surprisingly warm and moist, and he wrapped his arms around her neck and kissed her.
But he pulled away almost as soon as his lips touched hers, as he realized that she was crying. Great, rapid sobs arose from her lips and she writhed in the dirt, kneading the dirt with clenched fingers. Draco kneeled in the mud and drew her into his chest. He pet her hair, damp and clammy, and held her close. “Shhhhh, shhhhh,” he whispered softly. “It’s okay, it’s okay.”
Hermione cried there in his arms, holding him tightly in her arms, never wanting to let him go. She stayed there, Draco holding her to him patiently, until the sun came over the horizon and she could cry no more. Then she wiped her eyes and pushed herself off the ground.
“I have to go,” she mumbled, pushing herself away blindly. “I have to go find Ron.”
Draco sunk to the ground, defeated. “You never even thought of breaking it off with him for me, did you?” he asked. Hermione stopped moving, froze in time. “Did you ever even love me?” A tear slid down Draco’s cheek.
Hermione let out a soft laugh. “I love you more than I will ever love anyone else,” she whispered softly. Draco looked at her questioningly, and she blushed and looked away. “Please don’t look at me like that,” she mumbled. “You’re not good for me. You could never give me what I want.” She looked up and her eyes, apologetic, met his. “I know this."
Draco crawled up to her and bunched the bottom of her skirt with his fist. “How do you know this?”
Hermione kneeled and took his face in her hands. “I just know.”
Draco sniffed. “You’re taking the safe way out. The easy way.”
Hermione shook her head. “No,” she breathed. “No. The better way.” She pushed herself up off the ground once more and began to walk away, slowly, breathing in the fresh dawn air and letting the early morning sunlight sink deep into her skin. The sky, painted with pinks and reds and golds, was beautiful, breathtakingly beautiful. She smiled.
She turned around.
Draco gave her a shaky smile. “I’ll miss you.”
“I’ll miss you, too.”
The she turned and finally walked away.
Hermione knocked on the heavy wooden door. “Come in!” came a voice from behind it, and Hermione pushed the door open. She walked into the room. Professor McGonagall was sitting at her desk, penning a letter or some kind of document with her owl feather quill. She looked up and smiled warmly at Hermione.
“Professor, I just have a quick question.” McGonagall looked at her in interest.
“What would you say if, hypothetically, one traveled through time over fifteen years overnight, without saying a spell, without even trying to?”
McGonagall looked at Hermione and her eyes crinkled a bit. “How badly did you want to go back?” she asked.
Hermione took a deep breath. “I didn’t want to go back so much as escape,” she explained. McGonagall merely raised her eyebrows questioningly, and Hermione let out a long sigh. “Okay, so I wanted to go back. Very badly.”
McGonagall smiled. “Love is indeed a powerful thing,” she murmured, half to herself, before turning back to her letter.
Hermione shifted uncertainly. “Professor?”
McGonagall gave her a brief smile. “You’re excused.”
Hermione’s eyes widened. “But you didn’t even....
“Does it really matter?” McGonagall broke in.
Hermione froze, then considered it, truly considered it. “No,” she realized. “No, it doesn’t matter why or how. Not really."
“Good girl.” McGonagall motioned towards the door with her quill. “Go make that young man very happy.”
Hermione grinned. “Thank you, Professor.” Then she turned and strode out the door, the door banging shut decidedly behind her.
Hermione slid her arms around Ron’s neck.
“I’ll never leave you. Not even in death,” she whispered. “I love you.”
Ron chuckled and turned around in her arms, fixing her with his gaze. The he pulled her into a deep, strong hug. “I know,” he murmured, petting her hair with a broad hand. “I know. I love you, too.”
Then Hermione was crying, holding Ron tightly to herself. “I miss him,” she whispered softly. “I miss him so much.”
“So do I,” Ron’s voice rumbled through her. “I think we always will.”
Hermione pulled back to truly look at him. “We’ll see him again, right? In some sort of afterlife?”
Ron studied her. “Do you believe we will?” he asked gently.
Tears filled Hermione’s eyes. “I want to,” she whispered harshly. Then she stopped, changed her mind. “Yes. Yes, we’ll see him against, amongst white clouds and freshly cut roses.”
Ron laughed. “Well, I don’t know about that!”
“Yeah,” Hermione grinned sheepishly. The she sobered. “But it’ll be a long time before we see him again, won’t it?”
Ron half-smiled. “I sure hope so,” he muttered. “I don’t plan on dying anytime soon!”
“Nor I!” Hermione smiled. Her gaze swept across the room to Draco Malfoy, who was leaning against the back wall and watching them through slits of gray eyes.
When he saw that she was looking at him, he narrowed his eyes and drew his finger across his throat. Hermione blanched slightly, but noted that although his actions were cruel, his eyes merely throbbed with longing, mixed with contempt. I did this to him, Hermione realized with a jolt. She shivered slightly, suddenly feeling very strange.
Ron looked at her in concern, shifting her in his arms until she was looking at him. He stroked the side of her face lightly with a finger, and her expression softened. "You okay?"
Hermione sent one pained glance at Draco, and her heart ached as he averted her eyes, turned around and walked away. But she let him go. It was for the best, now she knew. No matter how much it hurt her. For love was not enough. But what she and Ron had....
She had a feeling that it would last her an entire lifetime.
A/N: Since everyone seems to be confused by this chapter, a basic summary: Hermione traveled back into the past where she originally chose Draco over Ron. Instead, this time, because she knows how badly things turn out with Draco, she chooses Ron over Draco, even though she doesn't love him with the same passion with which she loves Draco. Hence, the entire story is void, nonexistent - she changes her decision, and thus the entire course of the future (which is not included in this story) is redirected and changed. As always, please remember to review! Thanks!
I have many other stories, if you're interested, although check to make sure a story is not abandoned if you choose to read it. I have 14 stories, 4 of them abandoned, the rest not. Most are one-shots, but I also have a humor story in progress. Thanks!