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Just Decide by katiefelton
Chapter 21 : Farewell
 
Rating: MatureChapter Reviews: 69


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I AM ALIVE. AND WRITING :)

"Tears stream down your face, when you lose something you cannot replace."

-Fix You, Coldplay

       The country fields lay enveloped in a summer thunderstorm when Narcissa Malfoy reached Malfoy Manor, the home of her son. As the sun began its evening descent below the horizon to the West, she pushed open one of the heavy wooden doors, and made her way into the dim Grand Foyer. With a fluid motion, Narcissa lifted her hood, and gently placed it behind her neck as she continued towards the many halls in each direction. She glanced at the décor of the room with glassy eyes, remembering how little her son had changed since the years it was inhibited by the entire Malfoy family.

            A flash of lightening startled her for a few moments before she continued her way through the house. There was an eerie silence around her, which was the result of the manor being inhibited for such a long period of time. Her son’s house elves were moved to her estate with his unexpected absence. Many portraits lay vacant with black canvases, showing that most of the figures inside had abandoned their posts, and moved to a more interesting location.

            Narcissa paused as her figure passed by the entrance to the drawing room. Her faced cringed as sinister memories from the past filled her, and left startling images in her mind. So many horrible things had happened in this room, and it was no wonder that Draco had kept it closed off from the rest of the house. Not only were the doors locked by physical means, but by magic as well.

            Once she had stepped through a sizeable portion of the first floor, Narcissa reached the grand staircase, which was laced with inlet gold. Listening to her heels click on the marble steps, she eventually reached the second floor, which contained many bedrooms. She continued down the hall, glancing at the elegant patterned wallpaper, sculpted light fixtures, and exquisite paintings. Time seemed to pass like molasses as Narcissa spent her time examine her former house.

            Narcissa stopped as she finally reached the end of the hall, and the entrance to her son’s bedroom. With an anxious sigh, she lifted a hand to grasp one of the brass handles, and walked across the threshold into his room.

            She took in a fast, pained breath as her eyes caught sight of the still bedroom, which had been vacant for quite some time now. With pinched lips, which acted as her attempt to compose herself, Narcissa first made her way to the massive bed which stood against the wall to her left. When she reached the side, Narcissa ran her fingertips against the cool silk duvet cover that topped the bed, and pressed her hands against the cream sheets. With another sigh, Narcissa reached for one of his engraved pillows, and patted it softly with one of her hands.

            Turning to her right, Narcissa then walked to the nearby window, and admired his custom armchairs. She paused to remove the wilted flowers from a glass vase on one of the wooden side tables. Next, Narcissa made her way into his lavish bathroom, and admired each bottle of cologne and the emerald robe with hung behind the door. She was about to return back to the main room, when she noticed the open closet door to her right.

            When she stepped inside the large closest, Narcissa quickly lifted a hand to cover her mouth as she sadly caught glimpses of pieces of her son’s wardrobe; this included oxford button-ups, knitted sweaters, leather shoes, tailored pants, and his custom charcoal black suits. She released a loving moan as her hands reached for one of his favorite shirts, and removed the fabric from its hanger. Feeling suddenly overwhelmed, Narcissa turned and departed from the room, with the shirt still within her hands. She then slowly walked over to the bed, and lowered herself onto the soft comforter. With a sigh, she lifted his shirt, and ran her fingers over the buttons and across the lined silk.

            Without warning, Narcissa malfoy let out a strangled cry. She clutched his shirt to her heaving chest, and allowed her tears to momentarily stain the delicate fabric. In an instant, the realization that she was going to lose her son overtook her once again, and this time, the pain was even worse. Memories stabbed her heart with daggers, and pierced her soul with agony.

            Naricssa unwillingly recalled the moment inside the courtroom when all of the gloved hands had rose into the air, condemning her son instantly. She remembered crying while Blaise, Pansy, Astoria and Theo made attempts to comfort her, and remembered the pained expression of Barry Samsburg when the verdict was released. He had given himself entirely to the case, and had devoted his life to saving her son, but in the end, there was nothing he could do.

            But the image that sent her into a new fury of tears was of her own son Draco. His expression was blank, and his breathing was heavy as the guards lifted him from his chair, dragging him from the courtroom. She called out his name, but in the commotion, it was impossible for her voice to carry that far.

            In just a few days now, he would be taken from his cell once again, and stand before the same court to await his punishment for the guilty verdict. As much as Narcissa attempted to conceal the truth, she knew what fate awaited him; death. No one would pity him, seeing that an important figure was brutally murdered, and this was a fact that she could barely think of.

            She sat in silence for a while, listening to the sound of her cries ring across the room. Never had she felt so helpless, so useless, and so upset. After her sobs began to slow, Narcissa lifted her eyes, and caught sight of his mahogany desk with stood in the corner of the room. While standing, she placed the shirt on the bed beside her, and slowly made her way to her son’s work station.

            Narcissa walked around one of the edges, and placed her fingers against the cool wooden finish as she glanced at the photographs on Draco’s desk. Most were of him on diplomatic missions, with various heads of state, and there was even a few him with Terence. These sent daggers into her chest, and Narcissa didn’t linger on those for a while. Her lips parted in a weak attempt to smile as she caught sight of a family photograph on the far side. It was from years ago, when Draco was just a little boy. They all looked so happy, and so content together.

            While admiring the intricate carvings on the sides, Narcissa reached out and began going through the drawers which lined each end of the desk. The Top ones were filled with quills, ink, and various work items. The lower ones included many documents, memos, and even a few books. As she was going through one of the bottom drawers, her eyes widened as she caught sight of a beautiful peacock quill which she remembered giving Draco for his twelfth birthday. Narcissa sighed as she touched the soft feathers, and admired the radiant colors of the quill.

            Just as she was running her polished fingers along the hues, something caught her eye. With a passing glance, one would never have seen it, but since she was scrutinizing the contents, she didn’t miss it. There was a small gold ridge at one of the far sides of the velvet drawer, which rose up from the surrounding wood. Narcissa’s eyes narrowed as she placed her fingers on her find, and was surprised to find that her fingers fit; it was a handle of some sorts. With her heart fluttering in her chest, Narcissa began to slowly lift the handle upwards, and found that with ease, a small hidden compartment became visible. She was slightly alarmed at her find, and was slightly bewildered that Draco had found a secret area inside the drawers of the rather dated desk.

            What puzzled her most was the neatly folded stack of letters that lay peacefully inside the compartment. Each was folded impeccably, and from what she could see, they were covered in Draco’s elegant handwriting. With a narrowed brow, Narcissa reached inside the compartment, and pulled the sizeable stack of letters up with her hands. She held them in her hands as she walked back over to the bed, and lowered herself back onto the side.

            Her breath began feel uneven as she picked one of the lettered from the pile, and unfolded the parchment to read its contents. The letter was addressed to someone, and inside, her son had filled the entire page with his words. Narcissa, curious now, picked up another letter, and unfolded it. The letter was addressed to the same person, and had even more of Draco’s writing instead. Letter after letter, Narcissa read the name at the top, and read over the words of her son.

            With a small gasp, Narcissa placed a hand over her mouth, overcome with emotion as she realized the truth; these letters were all addressed to the same person, and none of them were ever sent. Her eyes filled with tears again, and her heart melted with the words her son wrote many years ago while she went through each letter. With each new letter, Narcissa’s heart ached further, causing tears to spill onto some of the yellowed paper.

            Filled with a new set of emotions, Narcissa lifted the letter in her hand to her chest, and closed her eyes while tears continued to spill down her cheeks.

            “Oh…Draco…” she sadly whispered within the silence of his bedroom.



            Hermione Granger’s eyes fluttered open as she began stirring from her nap. As she looked around her bedroom, she realized that she must have fallen asleep after she had returned home from the rehearsal brunch today. With a sigh, Hermione glanced at the time, and rested her head back onto the feathered pillow.

            For just a few short moments, Hermione functioned without being flooded with memories and the truth of what had happened. As she took in a breath, Hermione curled her knees to her chest, and wrapped her arms around herself. Closing her eyes was her best attempt to keep the memories swirling at bay. Her life seemed to be steaming ahead on its course, but somehow, Hermione felt trapped in a sort of lingo. As the days passed, leading to her approaching wedding, Hermione felt as if her life was speeding by her without even the slightest glance.

            She had continued to plan and prepare for her wedding day; Hermione went to various parties and dinners, made final decisions on the reception, and did the traditional duties that were assigned to a bride. Each seemed to be similar, and she quite often found herself half-listening to the wedding planner while she picked out the last bits of décor. After spending time with her family and friends, Hermione would always find herself back in her apartment, curled upon her queen bed until sleep took her in the evening.

            Her mind had immediately repressing thoughts surrounding the verdict of the trial. The images that were burned into her mind had slowly begun to fade around the edges, but even the mere thought of them send shivers of pain throughout her body. She could not even bear the thought of remembering his pallid face as the guards wretched him from the witness stand and pulled him towards the exit. What alarmed her most was the lack of emotion from his grey eyes as he heard his fate.

            Hermione pulled her knees closer to her chest as the images swirled through her mind.

            “Hermione!”

            She pushed herself up in her bed as a muffled noise sounded just outside her apartment door. Hermione wrapped her sweater around her waist as she made her way to the entrance to her flat. When she grasped the handle and pulled the door towards her, relief flooded through her when she saw her mother’s warm smile.

            “Hi, mum,” Hermione greeted as she hugged her mother.

            “Hello, Hermione,” her mother responded as she continued into the living room. After Hermione closed the door, her mother placed some of her bags onto the coffee table.

            “Well, I hope you don’t mind, but I stopped by to drop off some of these last minute items.”

            “Oh, thanks.”

            Hermione watched her mother removed her coat, and lower herself into one of Hermione’s padded armchairs.

            “Do you want something to drink?” Hermione asked, prepared to go into the kitchen, “I have some tea left in the kettle.”

            “If you have some left, then pour me a cup, thank you dear,” Her mother responded.

            Hermione walked over to the stove, and began pouring her mother’s tea.

            “The rehearsal brunch was lovely, wasn’t it?” Her mother asked brightly from the living room.

            “Yes, it was really nice.”

            After filling the mug, Hermione lowered the tea onto the coffee table in front of her mother, and sat beside her mother on the sofa. With a smile, she turned to her mother, who seemed to be containing some form of excitement.

            “Oh, Hermione, I can’t believe you’re getting married in a few days!”

            She nodded.

            “It’s almost here.”

            Her mother brought her hands together.

            “This is such an exciting time. I remember how I felt when your father and I were about to get married. ”

            “Yes, it is,” Hermione responded with a small smile.

            “All of the decorations look stunning. I can’t wait to see it all together.”

            Her mother excitedly continued.

            “You have your dress, which is the most exquisite dress I’ve ever seen, and the jewelry from Mrs. Weasley. Hermione, you will be the most beautiful bride,” Her mother spoke with a grin.

            “Thank you mum,” Hermione said as she pulled her mother into another embrace.

            After a few minutes, they pulled away, but her mother kept her face lovingly between her hands. Hermione watched as her once giddy expression faded a little, and her eyes clouded with worry.

            “What’s on your mind, dear?” Her mother softly asked with a sincere concern.

            Hermione averted her eyes to the patterns etched into the sofa.

            “Nothing, I’m fine,” Hermione stated quickly.

            When she glanced at her mother, Hermione knew she was unconvinced.

            “You know you were never good at hiding things from me, Hermione,” Her mother chuckled.

            Hermione glanced at the sofa again.

            “Tell me.”

            “Really, mum. I’m fine.”

            Her mother brushed a piece of hair from Hermione’s forehead and placed a hand on her arm.

            “Hermione, it is completely normal to feel a wide range of emotions before your wedding.”

            Hermione said nothing as she faced her mother.

            “Even with all the happiness and joy that goes into preparing and planning, there are so many other things to feel.”

            Her mother paused.

            “It can be bittersweet, because you are taking a wonderful step forward, but at the same time, you have to say goodbye your current way of life. In a few days, this you won’t live in this apartment anymore. These are your last few nights as a single lady, living on her own.”

            Hermione watched her mother’s comforting demeanor through a blank expression.

            “Hermione, you have always been very independent, which is extraordinary, but in a few days time, you are going to share your life with another person. You’ve always looked after yourself, but now, there will be someone to look after you.”

            “Even though this change is coming, you have to remember that the change is good. You will be gaining a new partner in life.”

            Her mother smiled as she took Hermione’s hands in her own.

            “I felt the same way before I married your father. On my last night alone in my flat, while I was laying in bed, I remembered that I was never going to sleep here again, in this bed, in this room, by myself. But I knew that a wonderful life was ahead of me, and I knew it was going to be alright.”

            “Sometimes we have to give a proper farewell to parts of our former life to become ready for the new. Only then can we, or you, have closure.”

            Hermione nodded as her eyes began to mist with tears. Her mother watched her daughter lovingly, and wrapped her arms around her once again.

            “I love you, dear,” Her mother cooed.

            “I love you too, mum,” Hermione whispered into her mother’s shoulder. After their embrace, Hermione sighed as she stared at her mother. Her thoughts were racing once again while she processed her mother’s last words.

            Hermione suddenly rose from the sofa, and grabbed her own hands as she stood beside her mother.

            “What is it, Hermione?” her mother asked with a new bought of worry.

            She tightened her lips after raising her eyelids.

            “Mum, there’s something I have to do.”

            Her mother’s bottom lip dropped with concern.

            “Is everything alright? Do you want me to go with you?”

            Hermione shook her head while her stomach twisted inside of her.

            “No, I need to do this alone,” Hermione softly stated.

            Her mother watched helplessly as Hermione pulled on her jacket and grabbed her purse from the counter. Just as Hermione was about to pull open the door, her mother’s voice stopped her.

            “Where are you going?”

            Hermione sighed heavily while turning her head back to her mother.

            “I have to say goodbye.”       



             Hermione’s mind seemed void of any thoughts as the gold ministry lift sank lower with each passing second. When she reached the bottom level, Hermione exited the lift and made her way over to the on duty guards.

            “Can I help you, miss?” A burly one asked.

            “I want to see him,” she barely got out.

            The guards exchanged looks for a few moments, but one eventually motioned her to proceed down the dim hall. With a nod, Hermione began to follow him past the vacant cells. She kept her arms close to her sides, and her eyes lowered to the ground. After a few long minutes passed, the guard stopped her outside the last holding cell.

            “You won’t be allowed to go inside, seeing that he is a convicted felon who is set to be sentenced soon. And you have to make this quick.”

            Hermione nodded, half-listening to the guard’s warning.

            “I’ll fetch you when your time is finished,” the guard stated before he turned, and continued back down the long hall.

            After watching his silhouette vanish from her view, Hermione stood frozen in front of the dark cell, unable to move. All she could hear was the sound of her own breathing and the steady rise and fall of her chest. She closed her eyes for a few moments, and attempted to compose herself and her rising emotions.

            Hermione slowly began walking towards the entrance of his cell, and when she found herself a foot away from the steel bars, she stopped and stared into the darkness of the holding cell. Her lips parted, about to whisper some form of any word, when she suddenly Draco came into view. He sat hunched over the only chair within the cell, his head lowered and his head facing the opposite war. Sensing her presence, Draco slowly lifted himself from his position, and turned towards her.

            Draco stood staring in her direction, his expression glazed and his ashen eyes unreadable.

            “Hermione…” Draco muttered as he brought his eyes to hers.

            The tone of his voice was emotionless, and it cut through her as she stood outside the cell. A few drawn out seconds passed, before he spoke again.

            “Why are you here?” Draco quietly asked.

            Hermione’s lips parted, but no response came.

            “You have better things to be doing. Your wedding is in a few days,” Draco stated again as he turned his head.

            Hermione watched him look in another direction as she filled her lungs with deep breaths. This time when her lips moved, words followed.

            “I…I need to know why you are doing this,” Hermione near whispered.

            Draco kept his eyes diverted from hers.

            “I already gave you an answer…” Draco muttered.

            His answer hit a nerve, a very tender nerve, and suddenly anger coursed through her veins.

            “No you haven’t,” Hermione coldly shot, “You’ve given me worthless explanations. All you’ve told me is some poetic rubbish about how to want to redeem yourself after what happened during the war.”

            Draco lowered his eyes.

            “Don’t you think it’s about time that you gave me the right answer?” She asked him with narrowed eyes, “Do you know what I did for you? I lied! I lied on the witness stand because you begged me too. Did you hear me? I lied. I lied to my friends, my co-workers, and the judge for you. Did you ever consider how much of a burden that would be on me? It killed me, what you made me do. You didn’t give me any other options but to go along with your unexplainable motives.”

            Hermione watched Draco bring his gaze back to hers.

            “One day, you will understand why I did this.”

             She threw up her hands with an exasperated sigh, just as frustrated tears began to form at the corner of her eyes.

            “One day! Draco, that day is over! You were convicted of murder! Why did you do this? Why did you lie, why did you not tell them your alibi?”

            Draco remained silent.

            “Your mother, Draco, why did you do this to her? Did you not hear her testimony, and how this destroyed her? She is going to lose her son, her only son. Oh, and your friends and Barry; why did you put them through all this pain?”

            In desperation, Hermione lifted her hands and clutched the steel bars in front of her.

            “Don’t you understand? In a few days, you are going to be sentenced. And you know that the punishment for murder, for the murder of a public official is…is…..death,” Hermione barely choked out.

            Hermione spun away from him, and covered her eyes with her hands. Before she could stop them, wet tears began to trickle against her fingers.

            “Hermione…” Draco blankly said.

            She slowly turned to face him once again, with tears forming under her eyelashes. Hermione waited in silence for either of them to begin, and sighed when nothing came to her ears. Inside of her, it felt as if daggers were being thrust into her chest, and it was becoming harder for her to breath. She brought her eyes to his in the darkness of the cell.

            “Draco, the only reason…the only reason that I was able to accept our…our…parting of separate ways all those years ago, was that I would know…know that somewhere on this earth, you would be alive. You would…be…be in existence.”

            Before she could stop it, a single tear broke from its hold and began to fall down her cheek.

            “And now….” Hermione began.

            She paused, and lifted a hand to brush the tear from her cheek, and glanced at Draco. He was frozen in the same position, except this time, his eyes looked more pained than before.

            “You…you are…you are…going to die. I…I…You can’t,” Hermione managed to tell him before she pinched her lips together.

            Draco suddenly turned from her, and covered his face with his hands while lifting his elbows into the air. In the darkness, she could tell that he was shaking his head, and taking uneven breaths inside the cell. Hermione watched as he dropped his hands, and turned his body to face her. As Draco parted his lips, he turned his eyes away from hers.

            “Hermione, I’ve been dying every day since you left.”

            She took a fast breath as her eyes widened, and her stomach twisted into knots.

            “….What?” Hermione whispered in the darkness.

            Draco then brought his eyes to hers.

            “I’m not afraid to die. I’ve been dead for quite some time.”

            Hermione shook her head as she released one of the bars to cover her mouth. Without even saying a single word, Draco had given his answer.

            She watched breathlessly as he grabbed onto the bars above hers, and stared into her eyes.

            “Before I am taken, I wanted to thank you for giving me a reason to live at a time when I was so lost.”

            His words pierced her heart slowly with agony.

            “I don’t want you to feel this way. You have a wonderful life, filled with those who love and care for you. You changed my life, Hermione. I am the man I am today because of you. You needed to know that before I die.”

            Hermione soon realized that tears were now falling freely down her face. Her bottom lip was trembling as she stared into his somber grey eyes.

            “I…I…” she began.

            “Ms. Granger, I’m afraid that your time is up,” bellowed the guard from behind her.

            Hermione spun around to see both guards waiting patiently a small distance from her. With a frantic glance, she spun to Draco, then spun back.

            “No…No please. I need more time,” Hermione begged, a tint of desperation seeping through.

            She turned back to Draco, who was giving her a sad smile.

            “I guess this is goodbye.”

            Her jaw dropped as she glanced behind her shoulder again.

            “No…I need more time,” Hermione cried.

            She clutched the steel bars with every bit of strength within her, just as the tears began to fall harder down her cheeks.

            “Draco…please…,” She whispered.

            Draco’s face twisted in some sort of agony as she slowly fell to the ground.

            “Ms. Granger, this is a high security prisoner, and….”

            “I’m a department head! Please, just another minute,” She cried again through her tears.

            “I’m sorry, but there’s nothing we can do. Please stand up,” one of them stated.

            “NO!” she shrieked.

            “Hermione…please,” Draco muttered, looking as if he himself was on the verge of tears.

            Hermione felt the guards grab onto both of her arms, and pull her up to a standing position.

            “I’m sorry. Ms. Granger, but this is an issue of Ministry security. We are going to have to escort you out.”

            “Please! Give me….give me…time…any time,” Hermione shouted weakly through her tears.

            But the guards didn’t resist, and they began pulling her down the hall.

            “No…no….no…”Hermione sobbed as tears spilled down her face.

            She attempted to push against the guards, but their muscular torsos could not be moved. After struggling for a few moments, Hermione knew she was defeated, and slumped over. The only reason she was walking properly was the tight grip on either side of her arm. They brought her down the hall, and she unwillingly followed.

            With one last attempt, Hermione whipped her head, and looked behind her. Before they turned the corner, she saw Draco slowly collapse to the ground.





                The stillness of Hermione’s apartment brought her no comfort as she sat curled upon one of the crimson armchairs near the foyer. With her head leaning against one of the arms, she brought up a hand to feel her warm cheeks. When her fingers brushed against the pale skin, Hermione felt streams of dried tears which began at her eyelids, and cascaded down to the bevel of her chin. Her eyes were open, but displayed no form of emotion, and her chapped lips were parted slightly.

            Hermione hadn’t moved since the guards had escorted her out of the Ministry a few hours before. Too dazed to apparate, Hermione had stumbled home, somehow unlocked the door, and threw herself into the chair. Her body ached from sobbing, and she eventually gave it up, which eased her a bit. Hermione glanced at the clock ticking steadily on the wall beside her.

            She would wait here until they found her; until anyone found her. There were no planned events tonight, and if any of her friends wanted her company before the wedding, they would have to come here. Hermione lifted a hand to her face and brushed a piece of hair from her forehead, and tightened her arms over her chest soon after. With a sigh, Hermione closed her eyes, and begged any form of sleep to take her.

            Without warning, a soft knocking sounded at the door, causing Hermione to jump slightly. She lifted her head up a bit, and narrowed her eyes. Any one of her friends would have walked right in, seeing that the door was regrettably unlocked.

            When the knocking commenced once again, Hermione sighed as she pulled herself up from the armchair, and made her way to the door.

            “This isn’t funny, Ginny…” Hermione mumbled as she fumbled with the door handle.

            But it wasn’t Ginny waiting, or her mother, or anyone she would have dreamed of standing in the doorway; it was Narcissa Malfoy. Hermione’s lips parted in shock, and her eyes widened while she stared at the woman before her. She watched Narcissa give her a small smile, and brought her hands together.

            “I’m terribly sorry to intrude, but are you Hermione Granger?” Narcissa asked with a tone of surprising sweetness.

            “Yes,” Hermione responded, still dazed.

            Narcissa remained smiling in her direction, and after a few moments, spoke again.

            “Do you mind if I come in for a few moments?”

            Hermione glanced behind her, surveying her usual tidy apartment.

            “Um, yes, yes of course,” Hermione said as she pulled the door open wider, and ushered Mrs. Malfoy inside.

            Narcissa stood motionless in the foyer and glanced around the room.

            “May I sit here?” Narcissa asked, motioning to the nearby sofa.

            “Of course. You can sit wherever you like,” Hermione added, her voice still shaking with bewilderment at the sudden appearance of her guest, “ Do you want anything to drink?”

            Narcissa gently shook her head.

            “No, thank you.”

            Hermione threw a glance at the kitchen, brought her eyes back to Narcissa.

            “Is there anything else I can get you?” Hermione asked again, attempting to carry on the conversation.

            “No, I’m quite alright. I just wish to have a word with you.”

            Hermione nodded uneasily as she slowly walked over to the sofa, and lowered herself down on the opposite end as Narcissa. They two sat silently for a few moments, listening to the ticking clock, and waiting for the other to say another word. But it was Narcissa who sighed, and crossed her legs before turning to Hermione.

            “You must think my appearance at your apartment is bizarre, and I apologize for arriving unannounced. I just had no idea of your whereabouts.”

            Hermione nodded.

            “No, really, it’s fine.”

            Narcissa looked away for a few moments before continuing.

            “First of all, Ms. Granger, I owe you a tremendous thank you for what you and your friends did during the war. I know that we…my family was on the…opposite side, but near the end I knew that this form of existence that…Voldemort desired was not healthy, or with lack of a better word, right. I didn’t realize I was on the wrong side until it was too late.”

            Hermione’s eyes widened as the woman who she once perceived as cold and snooty seemed sincere and genuine towards her.

            “But personally, I you an enormous apology for…for what happened to you at our home. What my sister…did to you was wrong, and I never should allowed it. By that time she had fully lost her mind I believe, and her behavior towards an unarmed child like that…”

            Narcissa paused to look away again, but continued.

            “….was completely unacceptable. If I was able to go back and prevent her from doing so, I would instantly,” she finished.

            Hermione closed her eyes as bits of the agonizing memories swirled momentarily under her eyelids. Sensing Narcissa’s eyes upon her, she glanced back at her guest.

            “Thank you, Mrs. Malfoy. But my friend Harry did tell me what you did; you saved his life in the Forbidden Forest,” Hermione stated.

            Narcissa gave her a sad smile.

            “My intentions may have been selfish, but I do see how much of an impact that had.”

            Hermione returned her smile as she felt the earlier tension slowly ease as Narcissa shook her head slightly.

            “My son treated you terribly during your school years too, and I also take full responsibility for that.”

            Hermione winced at the mention of him.

            “He was raised in a aristocratic home, with parents who were raised their selves by parents who belonged in the dark ages. And I regrettably say that I encourage this behavior. I also apologize for that.”

            Hermione nodded softly, attempting to forget even the thoughts of him as Narcissa paused. She watched as Mrs. Malfoy bent her head, and sighed deeply before continuing.

            “Ms. Granger, as you probably know, I am going to lose my son in a few days,” Narcissa somberly stated with a muted tone.

            Hermione pulled her lips together as she sighed.

            “I know,” she half-whispered.

            Narcissa watched her give a response as she continued.

            “Yesterday, I went to his home, which was the Manor in which he grew up in. I went to begin collecting his belongings, because I intend to sell the property as well as my own to the right buyer. After everything that has happened, the thought of remaining here makes me…makes me miserable. I plan on moving to my summer home in France.”

            She paused, collecting herself before going on.

            “Naturally, I had to go into his bedroom, and decide with things I would take with me, and which things would remain with the house….”

            Hermione watched intently as Narcissa looked off into the distance, and closed her eyes. She guessed it as an attempt to hide her sadness.

            “Ms. Granger, my son tragically experienced a life which no sixteen or seventeen year old boy should go through. He had no choice but to join a twisted cult which his father and regrettably his mother were a part of, because of the life threat over his head. I hate even thinking his name, but…Voldemort…gave my son a mission; to kill Albus Dumbledore. He knew my son would fail, and did it as a punishment for the clumsy actions of my late husband. He gave him the task to torture me, and make me punish. No teenager should be an assassin. I was tormented watching him experience all of this pain and agony for something I knew he could never succeed in.”

            She shook her head in despair.

            “But after this, my son could no longer attend school, and had to be locked up within the confines of his own home, which became the headquarters for the dark lord. He watched those…those evil, despicable criminals murder innocent victims, damage his house and its belongings, as well as watch his father be ridiculed daily. My son spent most of his time by my side, or trapped inside his room, without any view into the outside world, or any contact with his friends.”

            Narcissa spread her lips as misty tears began to form around her eyes.

            “I never knew how he did it; I never knew how he survived through it all.”

            Hermione watched as Narcissa looked back to her.

            “I never knew anything until…until I found these when I went through his belongings yesterday,” Narcissa softy stated.

            Hermione watched as Narcissa reached into her fitted jacket, and pulled out a large stack of yellowed letters, which were tied together around the middle to keep them from spilling everywhere. Utterly confused and surprised at the same time, Hermione’s eyes narrowed as she studied the letters.

            “I found these in some secret compartment under his desk yesterday. I can even imagine what else he kept there during his younger years.”

            Narcissa began elegantly untying the dark rope with her polished fingers. When she finished, she pulled the lettered close to her heart.

            “These letters were written by my son. I honestly can’t believe it myself, but I know his handwriting, and it sounds just like him. Each is dated at the top, and when I sorted through them, I discovered that one was written almost every day during the war. He poured his soul into each letter, and as the dates progress, so does the length of each. They were never sent, and I can’t see how he could have considering the times we were in. The most remarkably thing though, is that these are all addressed…. to the same person.”

            Hermione sat still in her seat, even more confused. On the opposite side of the sofa, Narcissa began to softy smile.

            “Ms. Granger, these letters are all addressed to you.”

            Hermione’s mouth widened in shock as she brought a hand to her face.

            “They are?” Hermione whispered.

            Narcissa continued to smile.

            “Yes, every single one.”

            Hermione shook her head in disbelief as she stared at the pile before her.

            “You gave him something to live for; you gave him a reason to survive during those difficult times. And I do believe it was you who kept him from turning into his father. You saved him, Ms. Granger, and that is a debt that I don’t think I will ever be able to repay.”

            She continued to shake her head slowly as Narcissa smiled warmly at her with eyes that resembled her son’s.

            “I don’t know what happened between you two, or if anything happened for that matter.”

            Narcissa paused, connecting with Hermione’s gaze.

            “But after reading through these, I can’t help but think that…he was in love with you.”

            Hermione brought her hand to cover her open mouth as damp tears began to form at the corner of her eyes. If she had only known during the war how he still felt….

            “Well, I think I’ve outstayed my welcome,” Narcissa softy announced as she stood, “but thank you for your hospitality, Ms. Granger.”

            Hermione, unable to move, remained still on the sofa. To her right, left Narcissa grabbed the stack of letters, and placed them on the coffee table in front of Hermione.

            “These belong to you. And they always have,” Narcissa said quietly before turning, and exiting her apartment through the front door.

            She sat in complete silence after Narcissa had left; her chest was the only moving part of her body. As the clock chimed the hour, Hermione seemed to wake from her trance, and looked at the stack of letters which were elegantly placed on the table beside her. With trembling hands, her fingers wrapped around the top piece of paper, and it eased gently from the stack. Her heart began to flutter in her chest as she brought the letter to her eyes.

            Hermione,

            And so begins my imprisonment in hell. Ironically, I am trapped within the walls of my own house, confined to my room, where I will write these notes to you. Actually, to be politically correct, I locked myself in my own room, seeing that I can’t stand those filthy barbarians strutting about my living room. Father won’t say a word, but you can tell that he’s furious. Just yesterday, Rowle and one of his buffoons ruined one of grandfather’s pristine hand painted ceramic sculptures. Of course, since it’s practically bloody ancient, it can’t be repaired by magic. The dark lord has decided to make Malfoy Manor his headquarters, and most of them are somewhat living here now too. I can’t stand a minute of it.

            I hope you’re alright. 

            -Draco

            Hermione took in a sharp breath as her eyes scanned over the last part. Despite her conscious, she placed the paper in her hands down on the sofa, and reached for another letter.

            Hermione,

            I am miserable. I’ve spent months now trapped inside this house, reading the same dull books, playing the same chess board, and listening to the same men brag about how many innocent lives they’re taken. I would never admit this to anyone, but I am seemingly lonesome for Hogwarts.

            I’ve overheard them say that you and your friends aren’t at Hogwarts this year. I can’t believe you of all people would be coined a dropout, Granger, but I suppose you have good reason too. I hope it gets you closer to defeating him. I know I mentioned this before but the dark lord in holding meetings in my house, and all he talks about is wanting to kill Potter.

            You are on my mind always.

            -Draco

            She ignored the protests within her and picked up another letter.

            Hermione,

            You managed to slither your way into the Ministry, and escape? You could have been caught. I hope you had good reason for doing so. If Potter lets anything happen to you, he’ll have me to answer to. I can’t help but wonder why you broke into the Ministry, but you must have noticed that it is a much different place. The Dark Lord says we’ve infiltrated the walls, and I recently discovered that Pius is under the imperius curse, and follows orders like a lost pigmy puff.

            Be safe.

            -Draco.

            Hermione placed the letter down on top of the others, and lifted her hands to her face in an attempt to dry her tears. After waiting a few minutes, she finally picked up another letter.

            Hermione,

            How can you ever forgive me for what I’ve done? I will never forgive myself. You were brought in as a prisoner, bruised and beaten. All I wanted to do was protect you.  But I knew what we had discussed, and knew we decided that no matter the circumstance, we would remain as our former selves to prevent more damage. I know if I would have done anything he would have killed us both. And I know that was what you wanted. I could see it in your eyes.

            But watching you scream in agony was undoubtedly the darkest moment of my life. I feel as if I should have done something, anything to ease the pain. My aunt was horrid, and I have come to see that she is insane. I’ve seen mother look at her in a strange way now, almost as if she was going to stop her. I am so grateful for your escape.

            When the dark lord arrived as discovered you had all gotten away, he was furious, and tortured my aunt as well as my father. Mother had taken me to one of the secret rooms and hid me there. When the sounds of their screams echoed through the walls, my mother had an expression of total fear and terror, one that I’ve never seen her wear before. Through every second of it, my eyes were closed, the image of your screaming face burning through my skin…

            She was almost gasping for air now, letting fast tears stream down her face as she finished the letter. Not only had she relieved the darkest moment of life, but now she seen the entire scene through his eyes.

            Hermione pulled the letter close to her chest, and let her tears run down her face, fall from her chin, and damp the sides of the yellow parchment.

Heyy everyone! I'm back! Sorry for the delay...i'm in college now, and there doesn't seem to be enough time in the day anymore hahaa. Wow, I honestly can't believe I'm posting this chapter right now. It was always a point in the story which I had imagined writing since chapter 1, and I made it! I can honestly say that i've never cried this much while writing a chapter. For those of you who are getting frustrated with this depression, fear not! 

Thank you for all of your kind support and encouragement about college! I LOVE it so much. Even with all this excitement, I never will forget about my writing.  I can't wait to hear from all of you about this one. Thanks so much! I love you guys!

Until chapter 22,

-Katie:D


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