Chapter 1 : Better Late Than Never
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I have officially started the prequel to this: Never Late is Better... It provides the entire backstory. It's a work-in-progress, but I'd love to hear some ideas and requests for it :) Happy Reading!!!
It was raining. That was good. I don’t know how I would have managed if the sun was shining today, if the birds were singing merrily, if people were laughing and joking. Things should not be the way they used to be. An angel has gone. Hermione Jean Granger was dead.
I remember the exact moment she died. She was dueling Bellatrix Lestrange. The fight was easily the most intense, but you could tell Hermione was outmatched. Hermione was dueling the only witch in the entire castle that was stronger than her. I wanted nothing more than to push her out of the way and fight Lestrange myself, but I was busy with my own fight. Bellatrix disarmed her and quickly shot a Killing Curse at her. That wasn’t when she died, though.
Nymphadora Lupin jumped in front of the curse, crumpling to the ground next to Hermione. Hermione didn’t notice her dead friend. Instead, she picked up her wand and shot a curse at Bellatrix, who wasn’t blocking it. Bellatrix was staring in horror at the corpse of Lord Voldemort. I smiled. The battle had been won.
Bellatrix let out a terrible shriek of grief. Hermione shot a Stunning Spell at her, missing her slightly. They began dueling, faster and harder than I’d ever seen anyone duel before. The other Death Eaters followed her lead. Their leader may have died, but they wanted to suck as much joy out of us before they fled like the cowardly bastards they are.
I ended up dueling Lucius Malfoy. I smiled at the irony. He sneered evilly at me while we dueled. He spat at me, calling me “scum worse than mudbloods.” Oh, how I hate that word. He screamed that I am a blood traitor, a fool, a bitter disappointment to the generations of purity that had come before me. Our fight became more and more vicious as years of hatred boiled over. Another Death Eater joined my fight and I found myself fending off more and more Death Eaters. It became clear to me that I wouldn’t survive tonight. In desperation, I shot a spell at one of the pillars nearby, causing it to crash to the ground around me. Of course, with my rotten luck, I ended up trapped between a massive rock and the wall. Once I’d finally wriggled out and deduced that I wasn’t bleeding to death or missing and vital body parts, I went to join the battle again.
I turned around just in time to see Hermione get hit in the back with a Killing Curse. Bellatrix had been killed by Mrs. Weasley almost three minutes ago, so I was confused. I searched the room looking for her killer. My eyes settled on Lucius who had his wand pointed at where she had been standing.
The scream that followed silenced the entire Great Hall; I didn’t realize until later that it had been me. I fell to my knees, unable to breathe properly as the Weasleys surround her body. The Death Eaters that remained realized they had accomplished their goal and fled. I memorized every face. Lucius had long gone but I would make sure not a single soul got away with what happened tonight.
That was over a week ago. We had a general service for everyone who died in battle. Then we had to tell Herminone’s family. Her family put together a massive muggle service for her. Surprisingly, a lot of magical folks attended that service as well. Hermione’s parents were shocked at the amount of people who stood and praised their beautiful child for her courage and all-around goodness. Mrs. Weasley asked if she could be buried in a Wizard’s Cemetary, as she had found in her true home in magic. A very tearful Mrs. Granger agreed.
That’s where I am now: kneeling in front of her grave. Everyone else had left about an hour ago. Ron Wealsey cried on her tombstone for about ten minutes before leaving. For the first time ever, I truly felt awful for him. First, he loses his brother, then his best friend. There was a rumor that they had gotten together but I refuse to believe that. My heart is broken enough.
I stopped crying a few days ago. I realized I don’t have any tears left. My upbringing had prevented me from ever shedding a single tear. Zero signs of weakness. Even at my most vulnerable, I never allowed myself to cry. I’m not sure when that changed. I stroked her name, whispering it to myself, adding my last name to hers. It sounds magical. I bit my lip as more tears rushed down my cheeks.
I began to shake with sobs. I was never going to see her again. I would never hear her nagging Ron about not doing his Charms work, or cooing to Crookshanks like it wasn’t bloody evil, or reciting the correct answer to any question you could think of. She was gone. Forever. Fuck, it hurts so badly.
Suddenly, I heard the crunch of leaves behind me. I got up to Apparate home. I didn’t look up to see who had interrupted my grieving and instead walked away.
“Draco, wait!” I stiffened at the sound of his voice. Potter. I turned to see him. He had his wand drawn, but not threateningly. No, I have a feeling he might have lost all the fight he had in him. I was right there with him.
“What is it you want Potter?” He chuckled dryly.
“We’re back to last names now, Draco?” I shook my head. Leave it to Potter to attempt to lighten the mood on the darkest of days.
“Sorry, Harry. I just…” I struggled to find the words.
“I know, Draco. I’m there with you.” He placed a supportive hand on my shoulder and then turned away to face her grave. I watched as he waved his wand and produced a shrine of white lilies, framing the tombstone. He placed his arm on her tombstone the way you would place your hand on a mourning friend and he lowered his head. I thought he was praying until gut-wrenching sounds of anguish filled the air. I don’t think I’d ever heard such noise from a human body. His sobs slowed and got calmer and I heard the sound of broken whispers. I tried to tune them out; it was none of my businessl
Harry stood and faced me. His face showed no evidence of tears; however, he seemed to be trembling all over, as if his tears were fighting to be released and were slowly overtaking his body. He nodded absently in my direction before turning away.
The moment I heard him Apparate, I knelt back down. The thought of the powerful Harry Potter (no sarcasm, I promise) sobbing over my angel allowed me to be drowned by my grief once more.
I wept for the loss of her life. I wept for the years of torment I had put her through. I wept for the courage of my beautiful Gryffindor, the courage I wish I had possessed. If I had that courage, I would have stepped into the fight and taken her away. If I had that courage, I would have killed Lucius. If I had that courage, I would have taken her away from that horrible place. If I had that courage, I would have told her how much I love her.
But I’m not a Gryffindor. I’m a Slytherin. A conniving, deceiving, lying bloody Slytherin. A fucking disgrace to the magic world. The birthplace of a monster. I was never good enough to begin with. I sobbed some more. My body was trembling with the loss of fluid. I didn’t care. Nothing mattered anymore. If my father was alive, he’d be in Azkaban soon. My mother was probably out of the country, mourning for the loss of her sister. I had no one.
I could go and stay with the Weasleys, but I would not dare intrude at their time of mourning. They were kind enough to me during the war; I owed them their time of solitude. I needed to get a job. I needed money, as I was probably no longer getting any of the Malfoy fortune. I would work and become a decent part of society. I would become a man. I would become strong.
I stood, with a new resolve. I brushed the water from my pants and smiled sadly at Hermione’s grave.
“I love you so much, Hermione. I miss you. I wish you didn’t have to go. I wish you could see the man I’m going to be. You’ve made me want to be a better man. And I will be, for you. I swear it.” I kissed her tombstone and walked away, not even Apparating. It was time for me to grow up. Better late than never, I suppose.
Hermione Granger smiled from above. That bloody prick should’ve told me sooner. The lilies grew into a large bush behind the grave, rivaling only Hermione Granger’s hair in its wildness. But in all its wildness, it was beautiful. Just like Hermione.
As the years passed, that grave had many visitors. From Ginny Weasley telling her about being picked to play on the Holyhead Harpies, to Dean and Seamus telling her they’d finally gotten together. Ron Weasley only ever came alone, feeling awful about bringing his wife, Pansy, to the grave of an old enemy. Luna Potter (nee Lovegood) came once a month to check for Nargles. Neville and Hannah Longbottom came to tell about the new things happening at Hogwarts. Minerva McGonagall came to tell her of her retirement, and how she wished Hermione would have been her successor. Harry Potter came all the time. He even brought his kids on occasion. The only person who visited more was Draco.
Draco Malfoy came whenever he felt like it. There was no rhyme or reason. Draco visited when he missed her, or when something particularly interesting happened to him. But on two days he came without fail: on Hermione’s birthday and on Christmas Eve. One Christmas Eve, twelve years after Hermione died, Draco brought a little boy with him. Scorpius Malfoy looked at the tombstone sadly. His father had told him of this woman many times and he was excited to meet her. Of all the things Draco had wanted to change and improve, he never wanted another woman in his life. So he adopted a little boy from a Wizarding Orphange. He looked just like Granger, big brown eye, ridiculously curly hair, and an adorable smile.
Little Scorpius kneeled at the grave, the same way his father did on a yearly basis, and touched to tombstone. He then picked two lilies and stared at them for a few seconds. One flower turned maroon and the other turned gold. He smiled a brilliant smile. Draco grinned, as he had never told his son which house Hermione had been in.
“There you go, Mama. Merry Christmas.”
“Merry Christmas indeed.” Draco said. Hermione smile from above, impressed with the already controlled magic the child had. Like mother, like son, even if he wasn’t technically her son.
“I love you, Draco. Always.” Hermione whispered as she watched him pick up his four year old son and carry him to their home in Godric’s Hollow, swearing he heard the voice of his long lost love whispering to him…