Chapter 1 : A Life Unlived
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“Oh, poor dear, you must be so scared, as you well should be.” He was patronizing her. Then his voice became the embodiment of evil. “After all, here you stand alone, and cornered by the Dark Lord himself, you powerless to do anything.”
“That’s what you think,” Hermione spat, narrowing her gaze on Voldemort as she forced control over herself, and in one swift movement whipped her wand straight out in front of her, aimed pointedly at Voldemort’s chest.
“Oh, you are a feisty little thing. What ever am I going to do with you? Oh, I know,” he grinned evilly, his red eyes dancing playfully. “I’m going to use you, torture you, and make you beg for me to kill you, until your little boyfriends come running to save you. And then, they can watch you die before I kill them both! Because, you see, or what you don’t see, there are fifty of my most loyal Death Eaters, and countless Dementors, hidden in the shadows just waiting for my signal. Yes, they are all working for me. So now the only question is, will you cooperate willingly, or shall I force you like I have so many others?” His voice was cold, and mocking.
“Never,” Hermione breathed, and leveled a glare at him, her wand still aimed unfalteringly.
“Never take life too seriously. No one escapes it alive, anyway,” Voldemort sneered. He raised his wand, “But, have it your way…”
“Expelliarmus!” Hermione wasted no time, but her spell was easily blocked.
“Try again. What a feeble attempt, and from the brightest witch of her age,” he laughed maniacally.
“STUPEFY!” Hermione growled. Again she was denied. Over and over again Hermione attempted to cast her best spells, spells she had worked on, practiced, and perfected, but over and over again Voldemort blocked them. All her books and knowledge couldn’t help her now.
Finally, Voldemort’s amusement had ended.
“Crucio!” Voldemort roared. Searing pain flooded through Hermione’s body and she felt herself fall to the ground. The indescribable pain coursed through her body, her limbs, her back, stomach, chest, and her head. It was the most excruciating pain she had ever felt, and she could hear herself screaming in agony. Finally the pain subsided and Voldemort was laughing.
“Come on, you’re going to have to do better than that if you expect those boys to come rescue you,” he sneered. Hermione glared back at him, but then felt her eyes roll back as he again put her under the Cruciatus curse. She couldn’t help herself as scream after scream escaped her lips and her body writhed on the ground. Unwanted tears began forming at the corners of her eyes, slowly streaming down her face. Again the pain lifted, and this time she heard many low, hidden voices laughing at her.
“They’re coming,” a voice whispered in the darkness. The laughing silenced. Footsteps could be heard, and Hermione wanted to scream at them to stay away, that it was a trap.
“Crucio!” Voldemort’s high-pitched voice bellowed again. Hermione heard herself screaming once more as the pain seared her insides. She struggled to keep her eyes open, hoping to glimpse Ron and Harry, and find some way to signal them to stay away. But it was all to no avail. The intense pain would not allow her to keep her eyes open.
And in the midst of the pain, surrounded by Voldemort and his Death Eaters, Hermione’s eyes closed and she found herself transferred to a different place; the darkness, the pain, and the masks all had vanished. Gone were the sounds of Voldemort’s laughing and the scuffling in the background. Before her eyes instead she saw the backyard of the Burrow. The grass was an intense green, the sky a clear blue, the sun warm and welcoming.
Mrs. Weasley bustled out of the back door, magically guiding plates and bowls of food and setting them on a picnic table that had magically appeared. As she headed back inside the Burrow for more, out came two children, racing through the door. Mrs. Weasley smiled and laughed, before disappearing inside. The two children, a little girl and a little boy, were laughing and running, clearly in the midst of play. They danced around the table, singing and being as silly as children can be. The older one must have been around the age of seven, and the boy not much younger. Both had the Weasley ginger hair, and the little boy had a face covered in freckles.
The door swung open and two more boys bounded out, holding something in their hands as they talked excitedly. The two boys looked to be maybe nine or ten. The older one had fiery red hair, and the younger had short brown hair. They sat at the table, still talking in animated conversation as their younger sister and brother laughed and sang around the table.
Ginny emerged from the back door, followed by Fred and George, and Mr. and Mrs. Weasley. Others followed the line of family members, slowing filling in the seats around the picnic table. Children seemed to multiply and appear out of nowhere. Finally the last of them emerged.
Walking toward the picnic table were Hermione and Ron. They looked older, but they looked so happy. Ron was beaming, with an arm around Hermione’s waist, speaking into her ear with a grin. On his other hand, a small boy who must have been not more than four years old was holding on, waddling along and trying to keep pace. His flaming hair and sparkling blue eyes stood out, and reminded Hermione of Ron. Father and son were mirror images.
And there she was, surrounded with family, walking with her husband, listening to the delighted chatter of her six children, as they sat down with all the Weasleys for a wonderful afternoon lunch out of doors. She was truly happy, and she gave Ron a quick kiss. The sixth of her children was nestled comfortably on her hip. The small girl looked to be about age two or younger, and had brown hair, though it wasn’t bushy like Hermione’s. She smiled, glad the child would not suffer from dreadfully bushy hair. The child had a few teeth that were hidden well by the hand in her mouth. Hermione couldn’t help thinking how good it felt with a baby on her hip and Ron by her side, lots of little red- and brown-haired children running around them.
She and Ron were happy.
The family finally all sat down to eat. Everyone was happy. As they all began to tuck into the food, Hermione leaned over and whispered something into Ron’s ear. She pulled back, and then she and Ron shared a meaningful gaze, before he grinned and kissed her. They both turned back to the food, blushing, and scooping up some potatoes.
Then, everyone’s heads turned. Hermione pivoted to see what they were all looking at. Her heart leapt as she beheld the image of Harry, standing in the doorway. His hair was still impossibly messy, his green eyes still piercing, but he was smiling. She hadn’t seen him smile, really smile and be happy, in so long. She listened as the children called out, welcoming “Uncle Harry.” He beamed all the more, scooped up the little ginger-haired boy who had come running over, and made his way over to the table to fill in the single empty seat.
Hermione stared as she, Ron, and Harry shared an uncontainable joyful look with one another. They smiled, their faces beamed, their eyes lit up. After all these years they were all still alive, still together, and they were happy.
“STOP!” Ron’s voice broke through the vision, through the darkness, and through the pain. Hermione’s body relaxed as the curse lifted. She opened her eyes and saw Ron and Harry just behind Voldemort, their wands out and pointed at him. Harry looked enraged, while Ron looked concerned for her. She caught his eyes and tried to offer him a weary smile.
Hermione’s body froze and lay lifeless as the scuffle turned into an all out war to the end. Voldemort’s curse had instantly killed Hermione, and Harry’s curse had killed Voldemort only a second afterward. He had been too late.
But before there was time to think, the Death Eaters and Dementors emerged from the darkness to avenge their leader’s death. They had not been prepared, however, to meet Dumbledore’s Army and the Order of the Phoenix. What followed was later recorded in newspapers and history books to be read for generations to come, but what occurred just hours later was only seen by one.
“Hermione. Hermione.” Ron’s broken voice filled the darkness around him. They had fought and won, and the remaining skirmishes were under control. There he sat on his knees, next to her body, leaned over and staring into her face, her lifeless face. He began to weep, and watched his tears falling onto her skin and clothing, hoping any moment she would wake up. She did not.
“Hermione! Hermione!” he wailed. He could not stand this thought; it was too great for him. He wrapped his arms around her body and pulled her body up to him, staring into her eyes, willing her to come back to him. She did not.
His knees started to go numb, and he lowered himself to sit on the ground, still holding her body, rocking back and forth, weeping.
He loved her. He had meant to tell her that. He had meant to marry her. He had meant for her to be the mother of his children. He had meant to grow old with her. He had meant to kiss her, hug her, hold her, and make love to her. He had meant to dance with her, cook with her, buy a house together, and teach their children magic together.
He had wanted to take her flying on his broom and show her she could learn to love it. He had wanted to wake up next to her in the morning, and kiss her before he did anything else. He had visions of catching her wearing his shirt, and only his shirt. He had wanted to listen as she read Hogwarts, A History to him, after arguing because he had never listened to her, nor read the book. He had meant to argue with her over something stupid and come crawling back asking for forgiveness, longing to make up.
He had wanted to spend time with her family, and learn about Muggle life. He had wanted to visit her at her work – at the Ministry or as a Professor at Hogwarts – and surprise her with lunch and some flowers. He had meant to sit next to her in their own home, and read Hogwarts, A History, and all her favorite books to her when her eyes had failed and she could no longer read.
He had wanted to watch their grandkids graduate from Hogwarts, and see the great-grandkids’ letters inviting them to Hogwarts. He had wanted to look into her eyes on their eightieth anniversary and tell her she was beautiful, and that he loved her, and then promptly remind her of their first awkward year together, at which point she would remind him of his being such a prat. Then he would remind her that he had saved her from the troll and had stuck with her for the next eighty years. She would smile, with tears in her eyes, and they would fall asleep together.
And on that final day, he had certainly meant to be there, next to her, holding her hand, holding her, not leaving her to die alone, in torture, at the hands of their most hated enemy.
But the magic of our first love is the ignorance that it will never end.
Harry watched as Ron wept and wept, and Harry’s own eyes streamed its own silent tears. Wordlessly, he placed a hand on Ron’s shoulder and felt him shaking with violent force.
“Come on, Ron,” Harry spoke gently.
“We can’t leave her!” Ron gasped and sobbed. His tears were unstoppable, and his body was heaving, still clutching Hermione.
“They’re coming to take… to take the… They’re going to take her. Come on, Ron,” Harry urged.
“I can’t,” he sniffed, “I can’t.” He had never seen such a miserable sight. Nothing could be done to ease his pain. Wordlessly, Harry squatted down and began prying Ron’s hands away from Hermione’s now cold body. He cried harder, his nose running and his sobs ceaseless. Finally Harry let Hermione’s body back down to the ground, and forcefully lifted Ron away from her. The Healers came in around them and began to tend to the body. Harry put his hands on Ron’s shoulders, and walked him a few paces away.
“She can’t be gone, she can’t be!” Ron howled, eyes still locked on her body, beyond Harry. But Harry could not tell him otherwise. Finally Ron’s anguished, tear-filled blue eyes locked with Harry’s. His entire face was wet with tears, having washed away the dirt from their previous fighting.
“She can’t be gone, Harry. She can’t. I loved her. What do I do without her? She can’t!” Ron was begging Harry to tell him it wasn’t true, but he couldn’t do that. Harry looked at him sadly, and even larger tears began to pour from Ron’s eyes. In one quick motion, Ron’s body fell against Harry’s. Ron’s arms wrapped around him, and he buried his face in Harry’s neck. Harry held Ron tightly to himself, and felt Ron’s body shaking underneath his arms. Harry could only listen as Ron sobbed, cried out, yelled and howled.
“She can’t be gone,” his voice choked out and broke. Harry tightened his hold on Ron’s body. He felt Ron’s hand clutching the back of his shirt, holding on for dear life as he lost it.
“Hermione!” he howled into the darkness. Harry felt tears falling down his own face, as they stood there alone in the dark.
“I loved her!” he moaned, and cried. But nothing could be done. She was gone.
It was a long time before the two men could bring themselves to that small Muggle graveyard, where there stood the lone witch’s grave marker. Both men’s eyes teared up as they read the inscription.
The tragedy of life is not that it ends so soon, but that we wait so long to begin it.
Author’s Note: This was originally written for the challenge, “When you die, you see a live unlived…” I’d like to point out that I wrote this months ago, and I’d like to think my writing has improved since then. This isn’t my favorite piece, but I’ve always intended to post it, I was merely waiting to finish some other things. Anyway, this challenge has been removed from the boards. I think I remembered the correct rules and specifications, and they included using three quotes from a provided list. I’m listing the quotes below so you’ll know I didn’t come up with the words on my own. Thanks for reading, please let me know what you think!
If you like the challenge, I wrote another entry for it and should be posting it soon, called “Two Lives, Two Loves, One Choice.” I prefer that one, myself. (o:
Quotes used for the challenge:
“The tragedy of life is not that it ends so soon, but that we wait so long to begin it.” -- Unknown
“Never take life too seriously. No one escapes it alive, anyways.” – Unknown
“The magic of our first love is the ignorance that it will never end.” -- Unknown