Chapter 30 : Chapter Twenty-Seven: Climax
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Thus, I give you the next chapter of this story and can only hope the objects thrown my way aren't too heavy. This has been planned from the very beginning (in fact, if you go back to the prologue, it's right there in plain sight) and although there is a large part of me now screaming to change the end because I’ve become so attached to these characters, in memory of the brilliance that was Shakespeare, Austen and even Woolf herself, so mote it shall be.
Chapter Twenty-Seven: Climax
Taking deep breaths, I took a moment to study the fight from my position amongst the trees while I worked on getting even an ounce of my energy back. I could see Remus, right there in the thick of things, duelling two of the men Lucius had brought with him. Towards the edge of the clearing Luna fought off spell-fire as she covered an injured Seamus, who looked to be most definitely out of the fight, but moving ever so slightly.
Searching the chaos, it was easy to pick out the Order, for all of Lucius' thugs were in black robes. Bill was unleashing fury on whoever was stupid enough to cross his path and Neville and Susan fought back to back right in the centre of the battle. They were the only ones I could see and in all likelihood, they had been the first wave that Remus had been able to pull together and come immediately. Unfortunately, my ward would prevent any other reinforcements.
Bracing myself on a tree, I rose to my feet, still shaky, but needing to find Draco as I'd managed to lose sight of him. I gripped my wand tightly and made my way out into the open, unevenly dodging any curses that headed my way.
Quickly, I sprinted the distance between where I had been standing and where Remus crouched behind a smoking tree-stump. What had happened to the rest of the tree, I didn't know, but what was left of it provided adequate cover as I slid in behind him, the snow softening my fall.
“Hermione!” he shouted above the roar of the fight, as I moved to crouch beside him, throwing off a few spells of my own. “Are you alright?” I nodded and he went on to say, “Don't worry, Minerva is getting everyone else together, they'll be here soon.”
“No, they won't,” I told him and then ducked beneath a vicious looking orange beam. “I put up an anti-apparition ward, so Lucius wouldn't escape.”
Remus turned to me, his eyes wide. “Then that means it's just us.”
“Yes,” I responded and then stood, ready to go on my way. Remus grabbed my arm and pulled me back behind the stump just as a Cruciatus soured through where I'd been. “Thanks, but now I really must run, Remus.”
“Where are you going?” he asked, calling above the roar of battle.
I met his eyes and informed him, “To find Draco,” then sprinted towards the side of the cottage, barely dodging a reducto that blew the wall of my home away.
Still not being able to see Draco, I followed the sound of raised voices that were coming from behind the cottage, only to find my lover and his father in the midst of a heated duel. Just as I began towards them, intent on helping him out, I heard a whoosh and watched, my heart pounding, as the vile green light of the killing curse flew by my ear. Spinning to face my attacker, I felt my blood boil when I met the face of Blaise Zabini, only a few meters away.
He raised his wand and smiled that twisted grin of his, “Shall we?”
Deciding I'd best make short work of my former classmate, I flicked my wand up and muttered a cutting curse. I had been aiming for his chest, ready to split him in half, but he dodged and it only grazed his arm. He shot back with a crucio which I was easily able to move out of the way of, but his follow up was quick, a green beam that I had to dive and roll to miss.
Rising to my knees easily, I shot out a disarming charm that I knew he would deflect and then closed the gap between us, coming up to his right side and spinning my elbow back to make contact with his nose.
Zabini, like most purebloods, never expected a physical attack and I was just able to hear the satisfying crunch of his nose breaking. Cursing, he grabbed his nose with one hand and scrambled away from me, giving me the much needed to time to glance over to where Draco and Lucius were. Neither of them had their wands anymore and I briefly wondered how the hell that had happened as I watched Draco charge towards his father and swing his fist, punching the elder Malfoy directly in the jaw.
I didn't see anymore as I had to return my attention to Zabini. I had him. His broken nose was bringing tears to his eyes, ensuring that his vision was blurred and every curse he threw at me was off the mark. Another, quick expelliarmus sent his wand twenty yards away and the bastard was beaten and bound with a quick, “Incarcerous.”
The duel over and won, I hurriedly turned back to Draco and Lucius only to stop in shock, my blood running cold. From my vantage point, I could see the two men, standing so close they were almost touching, their eyes locked, Draco's face a myriad of emotions; anger, hatred, disbelief; and Lucius grinning in victory because embedded in Draco's side, right up to the hilt, was a dagger and blood was running down his leg and staining the pure white snow red.
No, no, no, no, no ... was repeating in my mind like a mantra as I began towards them on legs that were about to collapse from underneath me. I didn't have the mind to raise my wand and kill Lucius on the spot, my sole focus was Draco and I had never been more proud of him as when he smiled right back at his father and then reached down, grabbing the knifes handle and pulling the blade from his body.
Lucius didn't even have time to be shocked. The younger Malfoy, even with all of his injuries, moved fast, raising the dagger to shoulder-height and then driving it forwards, straight into his father’s chest. It would only be a matter of minutes before Lucius Malfoy was dead. He grabbed his son's arm, looking at his offspring in utter disbelief and then slowly slid down Draco's body to his knees.
Draco glared at the man who had had a part in his creation and then ruined his life and reached down, gripping one of his shoulders and making sure of eye contact for a long time. Then he straightened and gave a rough shove, pushing Lucius onto his back where he would die. Draco looked at him for a moment longer as I slowly got closer to him and then stumbled back away from his sire.
He looked up and saw me, a small smile flittering across his face right before his legs gave way. That snapped me into action, I bolted across the space between us and managed to slide my arm beneath his head just before he hit the ground. I knelt beside him, cradling his head in my hand and managed to give him a watery smile before turning to examine his wound.
I breathed a sigh of relief when I saw it and was able to smile more genuinely. “It's just a flesh wound,” I told him, breathing easier. “I'll take down the anti-apparition wards and get you to Madame Pomfrey at Hogwarts. She'll have you fixed up in no time.”
As I reached for my wand where I'd dropped it beside me, he placed his hand over mine and stopped my movements. “Don't bother, Love,” he whispered and I turned back to meet his eyes, his pale face making me worry all over again. He glanced over at his father's body and locked his eyes onto the hilt of the dagger spiking out of his chest and then turned back to me. “Poisoned blade, Lucius never went anywhere without one.”
My heart skipped a beat, but I managed to stop myself from hyperventilating by muttering one word, “Antidote?”
Shaking his head he told me, “There's no time. I'm going to die, Granger and I don't want to spend the last minutes of my life trying to be saved when there's no hope. I just want to be here with you.”
The tears came unbidden, fallen hotly down my cold cheeks and without a conscious thought, my head dropped to his chest, my hand clutching his shirt front tightly. I was shivering and it wasn't because of the winter weather, my heart was pounding so painfully in my chest and it was difficult to breathe.
“Hey,” Draco said, lifting a hand to my cheek and making me look at him. “Don't bloody cry, Granger, it's just not you, it's not us. Swear at me, curse me, shag me, but don't bloody cry. I don't want you getting all blubbery.”
It had the desired effect and I was able to give him a small smile as a tiny laugh came from my throat. Raising my head, I shook it and told him through my tears, “I'm not crying, you git, just got something in my eye.”
He matched my sad smile, his hand winding around my neck and his thumb brushing along my jaw. “I should hope so, Granger. The last thing I want is to see your tears, I hate it when you cry, can't stand it. I love you so much that your tears burn into my heart.”
“Now who's getting blubbery?” I asked lightly, building every ounce of will I had left and stopping my tears from falling.
Draco laughed, but I could see the pain even that caused him. “Yeah,” he said, his voice only wavering slightly in its firmness. “I guess that was pretty prissy.”
I ran my hand down his chest, barely able to see due to the salt water in my eyes that was blurring my vision, but still refusing to let any of them fall. I reached up and harshly wiped at the tears and then met Draco's gaze.
He was smirking at me and I rolled my eyes at him, frustrated, angry that even in his last moments of life he was getting an ego boost from the tears threatening to fall down my face. I glared at him but it just made his self-satisfied look more pronounced, so once again I rolled my eyes.
His smirk changed to a fond smile at the familiar action. “There's the Granger I know and love, pissed off at me is the way you should be.”
“And being a cocky prick is the way you should be,” I retorted, smiling for real and then leaning down to kiss him softly. When I sat back up, I took a deep breath and closed my eyes, once again having to will away the tears. He didn't want to see them, so I'd do all I could to keep them from falling.
The hand on my neck moved up to stroke my cheek softly and when I finally looked at him again, he smiled and asked, “So tell me, what are you going to put on my tombstone?”
He was trying to brighten the depressing mood and I appreciated that, even if the harsh reality of the words tore at me, so I played along. Without missing a beat I answered with a smirk of my own, “Greatest prat ever.”
“Hmm ...” he began, putting on a thoughtful face. “I would have thought that best shag ever would be more fitting, but prat works.”
His voice was fading in its strength and even though he was trying to hide it, I could tell he was struggling to keep his eyes open. I loved him, of that I had no doubt anymore, and it was breaking me inside knowing I would never see those beautiful eyes again once he closed them for the last time, I would never see that arrogant smirk or hear his cocky tone of voice. All of the things that drove me insane before, I was now going to miss. It made me feel hollow.
Knowing and understanding every thought that was passing through my mind, Draco opened his arm to me and I lay myself down beside him, my hand resting on his stomach, my head lying on his chest so that my ear was just above his slowly beating heart. My eyes closed of their own free will and we lay together, savouring the contact of our bodies.
Gradually, so much so that I almost didn't notice, the rise and fall of his chest slowed and faded until it ceased to move. I refused to allow the tears to fall until I could no longer feel and hear his heart move beneath my ear and when I couldn't any longer ... I simply shattered.
He was gone and with tears falling unstoppable from my eyes, my heart breaking and my soul pleading to join him in his next adventure, I continue to lay with him.
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