Chapter 1 : He Who I Never Knew
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A/N: This is a sequel to At Night She Came To Me. Read that one first before reading this.
This was it. My doom.
The enemy in front of me—a middle-aged burly man—had taken hold of my wand, and now I was defenseless.
I closed my eyes in defeat, and I unexpectedly felt relief wash over me. I thought I would be scared, but I was not.
It was because in the end, it would not be too terrible to die. In death I would at least find peace and an end to all my misery. I would not have to fight a battle full of uncertainties. In death I could join my dead colleagues and friends…and especially my husband, who had been dead for so many years. The only regret I had was leaving my children as orphans, and at terrifying and unsafe times like this, no less. In my mind I saw them—little red-haired children who deserved to live in a time of safety and happiness, and not a time of chaos and war. They were so young. They lost a father and they could not afford to lose a mother. But right now there was nothing I could do but wait and hope that whatever would happen would be for the best.
I was waiting for death to come to me, but I heard a voice say, “Expelliarmus!”
And quickly followed by “Petrificus Totalus!”
My eyes flew open. But I did not see him or anyone else. All I saw was the burly man now sprawled on the floor, unarmed and paralyzed.
I had heard that voice many times before. I always heard that voice whenever I thought I would die. But somehow, that voice became my salvation. It was almost a voice of an angel.
I would have thought that it was an angel’s, if I did not know whose voice that was.
But I did know whose voice that was. Yet every time, I never saw his face. The last time I saw him was graduation, and from then on, all I knew of him was what he became of. I had never seen him again.
But I always heard his voice.
It did not make any sense. There was no reason for him to save me. If anything, I knew that he would be more than willing to be the one to kill me.
Maybe, I was just imagining things. I would not be surprised if all of my grief over tragic losses had taken its toll on my sanity.
Yes, I was imagining things. That could be the only logical explanation.
“The court finds you guilty of mass murder of Muggles and magical people and being an active Death Eater—among other crimes—beyond reasonable doubt. You would be subjected to the dementor’s kiss without further delay,” the judge said with an air of finality.
“Your constitutional right allows you to express any final words you wish to impart to anybody, but you should do it right now, or else that right would be revoked, because the dementor is now summoned and can’t be made to wait,” the judge continued. He nodded at the platinum-blond man sitting at the front of the court room.
I looked at the back of the convict’s head. I remembered seeing him the first time after graduation. It was during his arrest when I first saw him again, and he had looked arrogant, proud, and remorseless. He surely deserved to be punished.
But I could not help but feel a bit sorry for him. Somehow, I always believed that nobody deserved the dementor’s kiss. I didn’t think anybody aside from Voldemort could deserve the dementor’s kiss.
The convict turned around and to my surprise, he looked straight at me. “Hermione,” he said softly.
It was the first time I heard him say my first name. It was the first time he addressed me without contempt and hatred, but with softness. And his eyes…his gray eyes were not cold. They looked…resigned, tired.
“I have loved you ever since we were in fourth year. I never stopped, even though I never told you until now. I see no point of hiding it any longer.” His voice was clear and unwavering. He held his head with pride, something that he had always carried with him. Yet his eyes held a sincerity and sadness I never thought he was capable of feeling. On his lips was a not a sneer, but a sad smile.
I was stunned at this revelation, but then I started to understand. I understood why he treated me the way he did when we were still at school. I understood why I was still alive when almost everyone I cared for was dead. I understood why I heard his voice every time I needed salvation.
I understood him; in that few seconds I saw his soul.
Yet it was all too late. A dementor swiftly entered the court room and swooped down on him and gave him the dreaded kiss. The dementor left as soon as it came.
After the wave of coldness that swept over me because of the dementor’s presence, I looked at the platinum-blond man. He was sprawled on the floor.
He was now worse than dead.
I found myself feeling a burning lump in my throat and a prickling feeling in the inner corners of my eyes. I blinked back furiously. Why should I cry for him? But the tears fell down my face freely, needing no reason.
I was not just crying for him. I was crying for the man he could have been. I was crying for the man I could have known.
He loved me…all these years, and I did not know it. I wondered if I could have been the one to save him—not just to save him from the dementor’s kiss, but to save him from what kind of man he had become. I wondered if things could have been different. But now I would never know, and I could not do anything for him anymore.
I would never see his soul again, because now it was not his anymore.
Goodbye, Draco. I didn’t love you, but I think I could have…if only I had been given the chance.