Ginny stood with Hermione off towards the desk, both of them watching Harry and Draco plot over a piece of crisp, white parchment. She could see from their vantage point that it looked like a map, and she rolled her eyes. Since Snape had mentioned the possible location to the last Horcrux they needed to destroy, both boys had been plotting out on how to retrieve it. Her eyes strayed to the clock that ticked lightly above their heads and sighed at the lateness of the hour. She heard the other girl yawn, and yawned herself before looking over. The sparkle of a ring on Hermione's hand had her lightly gasping. All thoughts of being tired and going back to bed were swept away with the sight of the trinket.
“When were you going to tell me?” Ginny asked her after grabbing Hermione's hand to get a better look at the antique ring. “It's beautiful...” she gushed out, the soft candlelight in the room making the gems sparkle more. The diamond in the center of four small emeralds casted a rainbow inside of it, and the white gold band seemed to fit Hermione's finger as if it was made just for her. By its age though, Ginny knew that was an impossibility.
“Draco just asked me at midnight,” Hermione whispered back, and watched as Harry stiffened slightly before turning to look at them. She loved him, and while she hadn't wanted to hide the ring from him, or the meaning behind it, she was unsure of just how he was going to take it.
Harry gulped once, his Adam's apple bouncing. Draco looked up from the parchment he'd been drawing the map of Malfoy Manor on and discussing with Potter, his eyes focusing on the look on Harry's face. A slight sneer formed on his lips as he imagined what he was thinking. He was Hermione's best mate, and Ron's also. He had come to terms that he would never be the best of friends with Potter, and all they shared in common were the goal of defeating the Dark Lord and the girl that stood before them. He couldn't bring back the red headed boy, even if he had wanted to do that.
Harry gulped again, and looked at Hermione. The sadness reflected in his eyes glimmered briefly before he looked away, his eyes catching Draco's own before he closed them. He wanted to shout a firm 'no' to it, that the ring should be Ron's and that Draco had no part of their lives. He sighed at the cruel reminder that his best mate was dead, and that time does march on.
Time seemed to pass slowly while Hermione waited for Harry's response. Another sigh and Harry opened his eyes to look at Draco again. They would never be best mates, Hermione knew, but she had had hopes that they could at least be on good terms. Hermione held back her small gasp as Harry extended his hand towards Draco, a small grin forming on her face.
“I guess congratulations are in order,” Harry said quietly, his head nodding his acceptance.
Draco looked at Harry's hand, his sneer dropping as he thought. While his proposal last night had been unexpected, he had thought about it for weeks. He had planned to wait until everything was over, but it had felt so correct. Slowly his own hand extended and clasped Harry's firmly. “Thank you,” he replied sincerely.
“Though, if you ever hurt her,” Harry said, leaning closer, “I'll come after you.” he warned Draco with a arched brow.
“Harry!” Both of the girls exclaimed together, but Draco just shook his head.
“I expected that,” Draco said, his hand loosening from Harry's hand. He nodded his head to the other wizard and looked back at the half drawn map. Knowing he was going to have to go home soon had his insides quaking, not of fear but of revulsion. His younger years had been happy, and they'd been a family there. Those memories though had been replaced by all his father had done in Voldemort's name.
Caleb walked the silent halls of the Slytherin area of Hogwarts. Like the professors that were left in the school, he had signed up for nightly patrols. While this wing was for the most part empty, it still held places that needed watching. The light from his wand's tip casted shadows on the walls, and the silent, sleeping pictures were reflected in its pale light.
The sound of shuffling feet had him turning towards the now empty Head of Slytherin's office door. “Who's there?” Cal called out, his eyes straining in the darkness beyond his wand's glow.
“Blaise Zabini, sir,” A voice replied before the boy stepped out of the shadows that hid him. He still had on his school robes, though his silver and green tie hung from his color and his hair was mussed.
“You know you shouldn't be out of your dorms this late, don't you?” Cal asked him, stepping closer to Blaise. He took in the tired look in the boy's eyes and the darkened shadows that lay beneath them.
“I'm well aware of the rules, Mr Sanders,” Blaise replied with a nod of his head. His dark hair covered his face as he bent to look at the floor. “I had trouble sleeping,” he admitted, “So I took a walk...”
Cal nodded his head to himself in understanding, knowing the same pain the boy felt from his own parents' death a few short years ago. It wasn't just the Muggleborns and Halfbloods suffering, it effected them all. “I can accept that,” he rubbed the back of his neck with his free hand, “Anything you needed or wanted to talk about?” he offered, watching the younger wizard.
“Was their deaths worth it?” Blaise asked, his head tipping back up to look at Cal. His hand unconsciously rubbed at his cheek, his eyes saddened. “What if... what if I had been strong enough to just stick it out? They'd be alive...”
“I personally can not tell you what your parents were thinking,” Cal leaned against the wall next to Blaise, sliding down to sit. He looked up at him, and with one hand gestured next to him. “But I suspect they knew what would happen in openly defying him,” he continued, watching Blaise settle down on the floor beside him.
“They stayed neutral for years, even with Draco's father hounding them!” Blaise drew his legs up, wrapping his arms around them as he spoke. “Dad even moved them back to Italy before the Dark Lord's resurrection- but it was all for naught.”
“Not for naught,” Cal reminded him, shifting on the floor till he sat across from him. “They wanted you to have the chance to be what you wanted to be- be it part of his force or the other. They sent you back here when you made the choice-”
“But what if it was wrong? If we lose, then we all die anyhow.” Blaise shrugged his shoulders, his nose crinkling.
“Yes, that is the possible outcome... or we win, and live free again,” Cal replied, “Do you want to change your decision? Be one of his Death Eaters? Kill those who don't fit his exemplary?” he asked, again watching the emotions play over the young man's face.
“No.. not really... I mean,” Blaise shook his head, uncomfortable in Cal's assessment of it all. “Why can't I be proud of who I am? I just don't want to kill to make it so...”
“You can be proud, both of your bloodline and who you are!” Cal grinned slightly, and then sighed. “Killing those you think beneath you doesn't make you better, but I see your parents helped you see that.”
Blaise nodded his head slowly, shifting so his legs settled beneath him. He took a deep breath, letting it out slowly while licking his lips. “The others- judge me for who I am also. They allow me into the resistance, but what about when it's all over? Will I just go back to being just one of the Slytherins, hated because I'm pure and my family once worked to keep it all pure?”
“I can't answer that either, but hopefully they judge you by your current actions, not of the past. They'd be no better then what the Death Eaters are, wouldn't they?” Cal asked him. Blaise nodded his head.
“What's it like in the States?” He asked.
“There's a smaller population of Purebloods there, most have mingled with the Muggles,” Cal replied, “My grandfather, James Sanders, attended Hogwarts with Professor McGonagall, Hagrid, Eileen Prince and-” he arched his brow lightly, “Tom Riddle.”
“But he's....” Blaise furrowed his eyebrows at the names, the last causing him to frown.
“Yes, He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named himself,” Cal pursed his lips together as he nodded his head, “Gramps' last journal didn't have too much in the way of compliments towards him, and I suspect he was part of the reason he left England for Salem.”
“Why?” Blaise asked, the older wizard's story distracting him from his own worries.
“The Sanders came from a long line of Pureblooded wizards- think as far back as the Founders themselves from what I've researched in the library.” Cal's hand rubbed against his chin as he thought, “Though he was a Gryffindor, I think he believed Riddle's lies in school. I also don't think Riddle fully let out just what his full plans were, and just how much of a despot he would become in later life.”
Cal paused a moment, looking back at the boy beside him. “He was friends with a Ravenclaw girl-” He shrugged his shoulders, trying to remember what his grandfather's journal said. “She died though, and Professor Hagrid was accused-”
“Moaning Myrtle?” Blaise's eyes widened with the thought.
“Yes, a girl named Myrtle- and after that, everything changed. Their friendship ended, and grandfather would never speak of it. He did keep in touch with Dumbledore all those years though, and the professor even visited my family during the summers. But Gramps returned to England in 1981 when he received an owl about the goings-on. He died with a few other members of the Order of the Phoenix the night the Potters were killed by a group of Death Eaters. I was thirteen at the time,” Cal's shoulders shrugged again. “My only regret is my sister Mariah never got to know him. We didn't find the journals until just before Mariah started magical school.”
Blaise nodded his head, thinking over what the older wizard told him. “Where's your sister now?”
“She's in a safer place then here,” Cal gestured with his hands, “But-” he arched his brow again, “The point of all of this is we all make mistakes, and while it sometimes takes years to rectify them, we can.”
Blaise's head nodded again, a ghost of a smile covering his face, “Thanks sir,” he pushed against the wall to stand up again. Cal stood up also, and pointed his wand towards the door to the Slytherin common room.
“It's time for you to get to bed, Mr Zabini, before I have to give you a detention.” He nodded his head the way his wand pointed. “Good night,” he added softly.
“Good night, Mr Sanders.” Blaise began to walk down the hall, then he stopped to turn and look again at Caleb. “What if I wanted to make a brand new start after all this is over? Go to the States?” he asked, a wondering look in his eyes.
“I would help you and anyone else who made that choice,” Cal answered, watching the boy nod and wave before entering the common room.
Hermione followed Draco into the bedroom after they had left the others. The door closed silently behind them, Draco making a quick gesture of his wand to light a few of the candles that hung in their holders on the wall.
“Does it still hurt?” She asked him, pointing to his arm.
“It's dulled,” Draco replied, shedding the pants he'd pulled on in his rush to get to Snape's rooms. “I can only think that once Snape arrived in his presence, he calmed down.” His eyes showed his worry for the former professor, and he sat down on the bed. Scooting back a bit, he turned his head to look at Hermione and held out his hand towards her.
“He'll be okay,” she told him, walking over to take his hand in hers as she stood before him. His other arm slipped around her waist to draw her close and she ran a hand through his hair before lowering her face to kiss him. She softly sighed as he deepened the kiss, his other arm going around her.
Pulling her onto his lap, he rolled over until she lay beneath him. Running his hand down her arm, he drew away to look into her eyes. “One day he won't,” He buried his face into her shoulder to hide the pain his eyes held.
“No one knows what the future holds,” Hermione murmured, holding him close.
“If there is a future,” Draco looked back up finally, all of his emotions but what he felt for the girl in his arms hidden once again. His words had betrayed him though, and Hermione licked her lips.
“There will always be a future,” She took a deep breath, and cuddled into his arms. The feeling of his heartbeat against her skin made her smile softly. “Tell me what you think ours will be,” she asked him.
“Kitten,” he moved slightly against her, the warmth of her skin drawing away his pain of his thoughts.
“When this is all over,” she continued, her finger tracing a pattern on his cheek. “Where do you see us?” She looked at the ring on her hand, a soft grin playing over lips. “After we're married,” her finger grazed along his lip.
Draco sighed, and looked deeply into her eyes. They reflected a hopefulness in them, and he got lost in their depths as he thought of all the dreams he'd made with her in them. “I see us sitting together,” he began to speak, “I'm holding this beautiful child,” He laughed at her widened eyes, “She has your smile, nose and curly hair.”
“But she's blond like me, with brownish blue eyes, if that's possible?” Draco continued, his hand running down her arm. He felt the slight shudder his touch created and grinned. “I want that child, Hermione,” he admitted, the lids of his eyes lowering, “But what if I am as bad of a father as mine? What if I muck up her life, like he did-”
“Shhh,” Hermione's finger touched his lips, “You've learned what not to do,” she reminded him firmly, and giggled as his lips moved against her hand.
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