Chapter 1 : The Unveiling
| ||Rating: Mature||Chapter Reviews: 25|
Background: Font color:
An excited young wizard stood restless, continuously checking two things… the time on his wristwatch and his perfect reflection in a hand-held mirror.
This was it. The biggest story of the decade had been handed to him to cover an event of the rarest kind. And he was going to do it via live broadcast to all the Wizarding world.
“And we’re going live in three, two…”
“Good evening, my fellow witches and wizards watching this broadcast tonight. In a rare, extremely rare appearance, the Lord Malfoy is here at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry to witness the dedication of the new Hogwarts Library. We all know of his connections to the late great Harry Potter and the Golden Trio, as our history lessons describe that it was actually Lord Malfoy’s wand that was used to defeat the Dark Lord of their time… as well, we are aware of his connections to the Deathly Hallows.
Rumor has it that at one time, he was in search of the Resurrection Stone, but gave up pursuit long ago as it was thought to be lost to history on the day Harry Potter died. Despite Lord Malfoy’s years of near complete solitude, we all know who this man is and the great contributions to the entire Wizarding community that he has made since the Great War.
Adding to the mystery of this man is his claim that he is married, but there hasn’t been a known spouse since the death of Astoria Greengrass-Malfoy more than thirty years ago. Normally, he sends a family representative to speak on his behalf when he makes his generous donations. But for what the family is calling, ‘great personal reasons’ Lord Malfoy wished to actually attend the opening of this new library. We are sure to get a glimpse of Lord Malfoy as he will be present, but we are all hoping beyond hope that he might actually take the stand and speak as to why this occasion would be of particular importance.
Some speculate that he is to set some records straight, but others believe he would demonize our heroes that are no longer alive to defend themselves. At any rate, we can see a rather large hidden structure that will be unveiled tonight and it is my understanding that the library is getting a new official name. Folks I’ve interviewed on the floor believe it to be a statue of Lord Malfoy as a student and it will be named in his honor for his generosity in bringing modern technology to Hogwarts.
It is worth noting that Lord Malfoy is the LAST living wizard of his era. There are none left that attended school during that historic time. Should he allow the cameras to continue, we shall be reporting… live from Hogwarts. This is Vladin Skeeter. Here we go.”
The reporter stepped away from the camera as it expanded the view of the new entrance to the library revealing a single concealed column that was to be unveiled to those in the prestigious audience in attendance. Soon everyone would know why Lord Malfoy wanted to be here on this night.
The current Headmaster of Hogwarts took to the podium with a reverent and respectful greeting and subsequent speech that Lord Malfoy fully expected. He really hadn’t paid attention to a word of it, his memories of the past greatly refreshed anew at seeing the castle once more. He never thought he’d ever actually set foot in it after the war. His last memory of it being death, charred and broken stone, and his mother’s voice telling him to join their fellow Death Eaters.
He had fought for Hogwarts, fought alongside the fallen.
And when his mother called, he distinctly remembered the feeling that something was amiss. “Draco, come.” She had gently commanded of him.
He had glanced to his right to see Hermione Granger, searching his face with pity and concern as to the realization that he had been fighting… fighting for what was right and true and wondering if he would actually join Voldemort’s ranks.
He knew that the entire school was watching him as sick and disgusting hands came upon him as the Darkest of Lords sickly hugged him as he went to join his mother. It disgusted him and all he wanted to do was run far, far away and be forgotten.
Oh, the darker memories of this place.
A polite applause was not enough to get the attention of Lord Malfoy when it was time for him to take the podium. He was present, but his mind was in the distant past of his youth.
“Grandfather, it is time.” Orion Malfoy stood, offering a walking stick to the man that was actually his Great-grandfather.
He took hold of the familiar antique snake-head cane that was once his father’s and stood as the crowd grew deathly silent.
They watched in near disbelief, an elderly man who stood tall and upright despite his age. His pure white hair was long, but neatly gathered and tied. He wore aristocratic tailor-made black robes that spoke of his wealth and status. If it were not for his near translucent skin and tired eyes, one would never know his true age of one hundred and sixteen years.
He stood in front of the people as one stoic and unreadable.
They collectively held their breath, waiting for the powerful wizard to speak.
“What is in a name?” He asked the audience as he began. There was no need to introduce himself and he didn’t bother with formalities such as thanking them for coming. He did nothing of the sort.
“A name can mean everything. It can tell much of a family legacy or heritage and it can say much about who we really are.”
“I would venture to guess that most of you here have read a great deal of the names of Potter, Weasley, Granger, Goyle, Zabini, and … Malfoy. Six students of this very school, in this very room actually. For it was here where we stood, wands pointed at one another, three Slytherins against three Gryffindors. This place, once known as The Room of Hidden Things has been rebuilt, renovated, and transformed into a haven for magical history.”
“A great war was upon us. There were students in the thick of it, students involved in it because our parents were involved in it. Truthfully, it started before we were born and fate would have it that mere students would become enemies and forcibly put into life or death situations. And I have to say… that none of us wanted it. None of us chose our paths. You people out there watching me now… out there placing glory upon war. You need to wake up and smell Hogwarts burning around you.”
“Happy am I to be the last alive that witnessed the dead that lie in the Great Hall where students still eat three meals a day. I’ve asked God, why am I the last? Why me? My friends are dead. The victorious Golden Trio are dead… long gone. Why, God, have you forsaken me and left me behind to rot in my memory of this place? Death would be the great escape from the horrors for me. I have no rest. I have no peace. That is the reality of war! Pain. Suffering. Death. The war is over, yet I am still here, remembering it as if happened only yesterday.”
“I know the speculation… the predictions of what I might say this night. You expect me to demonize the Trio for my own benefit… to shed a better light upon myself and my family. But I assure you, that is not why I am here. You see, I am about to tell you something that not even my family knows about. I was willing to take it to my grave, but I believe it is the very reason why God has not taken me yet. It is because there is a truth to be told, except I am the last that knows of it. And so, in sharing a bit of the truth that is our history, I fully expect my days on this earth to finally be numbered, so that I can take my place in history… so that my birth date will finally have a death date written in stone beside of it. Because I’m tired.” He paused as his emotion began to get the best of him. “I’m tired of living… without the true love of my life, one who long awaits me on the other side.”
“The masses, who have poked and prodded like vultures into my life and the life of my family fully know that I consider myself to be married. Yes, I am married. I am married to a memory of a girl who, in our youth at this school, loved me once. She… loved me enough to leave me alone. She loved me enough to comfort me when the pressure was so great, I was ready to end it all. She loved me. And I loved her dearly… with all my soul.”
He paused for a moment, feeling the love in his heart that once began one hundred years ago… a love that had never diminished, not even the slightest.
“Her name was… Hermione Jean Granger.”
At the sound of her name, the grand white curtain fell and the crowd gasped at the unveiling of the remarkably accurate statue of a young female student with long bushy hair, wide eyes, and a smile full of excitement. It was their heroine as a youthful First Year, hungry for knowledge of the magical arts, yearning to be the best witch she could be… the beginning of becoming the brightest witch of their age.
He paused purposefully as the shockwave hit the crowd. Jaws dropped and eyes widened, people gasped in disbelief at the revelation he had just told them. He had loved her?
“Mudblood, I called her. I know that it is not the politically correct name for a Muggleborn. But that is what she was and I was a cruel ignorant child. But everything changed our Sixth Year. My father was in prison while I took the Mark of the Death Eater and pledged my allegiance to Voldemort. I had no choice in the matter. The thousands of you… so quick to judge me, when you are clueless to the realities of evil. You say that you never would’ve done it, but you will never know until you are truly in that situation just how you would react.”
“Expectation. Family obligation. Torturous pressures under threat of death. Granger was the first to blame me for nothing. She was the first to forgive me of my trespasses against her. And for that and so many things, I loved her.”
“You Pureblood supremacists who hold me in such high regard… I am a Blood Traitor. To those that utter the words “Death Eater” with any kind of reverence at all… I am the worst traitor of the clan.”
“For this is the truth that must be told. Hermione Granger and I, Draco Malfoy, loved one another. We loved as though nothing was wrong with our world. We loved as though we were not enemies on opposing sides.”
“I do HATE THIS WORLD. I hate it because even after the great war ended, it is this world that kept us apart. The mettlesome, unrelenting media that hounded her… that hounded me… that never allowed us a single moment to ourselves. The courts that kept me busy for years with false accusations. And the so-called FANS of the Trio practically insisted that it was Ron that she marry… never thinking that there might be another man in her life that loved her.”
“Before she married, we came together as we had many times before, carefully hidden behind closed doors. The sounds of our love concealed with the Muffliato. But our times together most unfortunately grew further and further apart. When we finally had the chance to be together, the world be damned, too much time had passed. Too many months apart as we pondered what was best for us... for her. What would be the right thing to do? God forbid, we ever upset anyone.” He said sarcastically. “My family, her friends, and everyone in the magical world that would’ve had a negative opinion of us. One dark night, a painful decision was made. The dark clouds that hovered over the Malfoy name were not to hover over her. She was not to take on my shameful last name, even though she said that she would. And so, a month later, I was there when she walked down the aisle and pledged her love to someone else. I became a broken man, one who lie in ruin and misery while the magical world happily cheered them on.”
“It was then that I vowed that my last name would be lifted up from the depths and darkness and become resurrected anew. Everything that I did after that, I did for her. Every dime spent at St. Mungo’s hospital, at Hogwarts, the funds donated to clean up the streets and historical buildings of Diagon Alley… all under the Malfoy name was for her benefit. Because I held on to some inkling of hope that one day, should she become available once more, that if she ever were to take my last name, it would no longer bring her shame.”
“I am a selfish man and I did not exactly donate to be kind or generous. I did it for her and did it for the hopes that one beautiful day, she would be allowed to be mine in the cynical eyes of the magical public. You swine, so quick to ruin a life and keep it down.”
“When her husband died, I was still married to Astoria. And Hermione, being the better of us, refused to break up a marriage. Three years later, my wife passed and the two of us met up once again. Advanced in age… our youth, our middle-age, and our best years fully spent, I still loved her with everything in me.”
Draco paused as thoughts of that day came to him, briefly reliving it in his mind before continuing. She had asked him one very simple question that brought him to tears then and now… still.
Silence gripped the audience as they witnessed an old man’s gray eyes fill with tears and spill over unashamed.
As he wiped the tears with careful fingertips, he need not a Pensieve from days past to reveal the memories contained in them. Through modern magic, one could now display them as a large three dimensional mirage for all to see.
Suddenly, she was in front of all to witness, asking Lord Malfoy her question.
“Do you… still love me?” She asked in an emotional breath, casting unsure eyes away from him.
He didn’t answer right away. He was analyzing her words and the meaning behind them. The thought of her still loving him after so many years stole his ability to form words. He was searching, but could not find them.
The audience could feel the tension hanging in the air between the two. They saw him place a hand to his heart as his eyes began to get watery.
It seemed as if Hermione could not breathe until she heard his answer.
“There is no amount of time that could ever diminish my love for you.” He finally answered.
Hermione bowed her head and began crying at his answer. Long ago he had a way with expressing his love for her with heart-felt words and that day was no different.
“I would marry you tomorrow if you would say yes.” He offered.
“But… the healers say that I don’t have much time left.” She admitted with a broken voice. “Soon, Draco.”
“Marry me today then. And I shall thank God for every moment that He allows me to have with you.”
He took her hand in his, pulled her close as a man in love, and tenderly kissed her cheek. He then placed his temple lovingly to hers. “I will stay close to you… to whatever end.” He promised. “Please, say yes.”
He barely felt her answer that came in the form of a slight nod, but it was enough.
The audience watched her cry and sob into his chest for the love that she had for him and for the tragedy of it all.
Lord Malfoy felt weak at witnessing the memory play out before him. He became quite calm and his words softened and slowed.
“It was a gorgeous September day… when we married,” he continued.
A collective gasp like a shock wave went through the crowd as they saw a man who could only be that of Harry Potter himself give away a bride who was none other than Hermione Granger Weasley, who was smiling immensely at the groom waiting for her, known to be Lord Malfoy.
They watched in awe as two people vowed their love and kissed under a large oak tree blanketed by a clear blue sky.
“Only Harry Potter and the Muggle clergyman that married us bore witness. By then, she was weakened with Muggle cancer that Healers could do nothing about. Thirty-seven days, she was mine and we loved as if nothing was wrong.”
Suddenly the mirage changed as Hermione grew more and more weak and soon she was lying on her death bed.
“But on that thirty-seventh day… Potter held her hand, but it was I who held her in my arms and watched her pass from this horrid judgmental life… into True Glory. Thirty-seven days, seventeen hours, and thirty-two minutes… she was my wife.”
The audience remained silent at the display of love before them. A grieving man, clinging to his dead wife, who was so obviously and dearly loved.
They hadn’t noticed Lord Malfoy growing weak in front of them grabbing hold of the podium to keep his balance. Once steady, he continued with his voice gradually revealing more and more of his age.
“In my mind… I am still married to her,” he confessed as if the memory was too painful for him to watch. “Because in my lifetime, thirty-seven days is but a blink of an eye. It is but a whisper in the wind… and not nearly long enough.”
The crowd was hushed except for the sniffling and the tears that ran down the faces of the audience. They knew the man before them was in fact, telling the truth; a truth nearly unbelievable.
The mirage before them morphed into a happy youthful girl. Her hands full with a stack of books, eyes wide, with a smile eager to learn of all things magical.
“It is my hope that you find her youthful image inspiring and not take for granted the valuable resources enclosed in these walls. Tonight, I dedicate this library not only to honor my wife’s memory, her love of books, and her hunger for knowledge of the magical arts, but I also do it to honor her real, true, final name. For it is my highest honor to dedicate and present to you the Hermione Jean Granger Weasley Malfoy Library.”
As he said her name, it appeared high above them at the entrance of the library, beautifully carved into white marble.
“After loving her for an entire century… Happy Anniversary, Love. May God rest her sweet, loving, beautiful soul.”
Without another moment passing, Lord Malfoy used what energy remained and Disapparated to a quiet familiar place to escape once again into solitude.
He was gone before he could hear the massive applause that erupted from the crowd at Hogwarts long after her mirage faded. He didn’t see the emotional reaction of the reporter who failed at his attempt to be an objective observer. There were few dry eyes when he was done and the Malfoy family members in attendance were just as shocked and surprised as the Weasley family that was there as well.
In a moment, Draco was at her grave and sitting on a park bench that he had placed there nearly a decade earlier.
With great care and purpose, he took out his wand and pointed it at her headstone. With one smooth wave, he finally removed the concealment charm that had been hiding her true last name. It had gone undetected for years, but no more.
She was now officially a Malfoy.
Putting away his wand, he then reached into his pocket and took out something that Harry had given him and recalled the night Harry Potter died. Draco had been summoned to the Potter estate and quickly ushered to Harry’s death bed.
Harry held, clutched tight in his hand, the Golden Snitch from their days at Hogwarts. He passed it to Draco with a nearly silent message saying, “She wants you to tell… the truth. She wants her name.”
He died soon after that and Draco was unable to ask him questions.
As soon as it was handed to him, Draco knew what he held in his hands, a precious gift indeed.
Harry saw her when it was time for him to die and left a message for him to tell the truth.
Which meant, Draco Malfoy had possession of the Resurrection Stone inside the snitch that would not open until the close of his life.
Many years had passed since that day and he still had not revealed the truth about their love or their secret marriage. He was perfectly content to keep it private. He never wanted to bring shame to her name or reputation. People wouldn’t understand it. They would judge her unfairly and ask him questions that he didn’t believe was anyone’s business but his own.
Their families wouldn’t understand. The Weasleys would sue him for a Malfoy inheritance and his heirs would be furious. The magical world might not even legally recognize it since they didn’t bother to get a marriage license or file it with the Ministry. And in trying to keep it a secret to the world, they purposely used Muggle clergy.
It could tie up the magical courts for years.
To Hermione and Draco, they vowed their love to each other and married in the sight of God. They didn’t need to formalize it or get legal permission from a Ministry official that would leak it at first chance.
She was in the final stages of life and they didn’t want to be hounded or burdened by a media circus.
But as time passed and he grew older, he came to the conclusion that the close of his life would not come… until the truth was told.
Her message to him from beyond the grave meant the world to him. It meant that after everything, she had been proud to be his wife, if only for a short time. And she wanted the world to know that she loved him and that at one point, she felt that he was worthy of her.
She wanted him to be brave and tell the world the deepest, hidden, and most precious part of his heart.
And it would kill him.
And so, grand plans were made under the utmost secrecy with help from the ever-loyal and faithful Zabini family.
Her youthful likeness would be sculptured into timeless beauty. A secret renovation of one of the grandest rooms at Hogwarts would be completed. Specific collections of works along with her own personal library of books would be included. And equipment with the latest technology considered safe for student use would be ready.
All of it planned in top secrecy until the proper unveiling on an ever-important September date.
When Draco caught his breath and began to relax, he took a good look at the Golden Snitch, knowing it was the end as he grew ever weaker.
He stared at it and the words shined. But then it began moving and eventually popped open to reveal its contents.
Great relief came to him at the opening. It was finally time.
He took the stone into his hand, closed his eyes, and turned it over three times ever-so-slowly.
And when he opened them again, there she was.
His heart leaped and the tears fell.
“Do you… still love me?” He had to ask. He had to know.
“Oh, yes. Love grows exponentially here. You will see.” She assured him.
“Oh, how I have missed you.” He said tiredly with all his soul. “I have missed you nearly every day of my life.”
She smiled at him and replied in her sweet voice, “Happy Anniversary, my husband.”
“Happy, indeed,” he agreed as he wiped a tear shed for her.
“I must admit to you that even though I know we did the right thing in keeping our wedding a secret, I still had a fear that you really didn’t want my name and that was the true reason to keep it hidden. And that you were just being kind in not saying so.”
She looked puzzled and shook her head slightly.
“It truly wasn’t until Potter gave me your message that I began to allow myself to think differently. I’ve always disappointed everyone that I ever cared about. But of all of them… it was you… you most of all that I wanted to be… proud of me.”
“Oh, Draco. I am so very proud of you. I was blessed and honored to be your wife. And you’ve been so faithful to me.” She looked at him with that look of love in her eyes… the same way she had looked at him when they were just sixteen. Those eyes of hers had not lost their love for him. “Your last name is a gift to me that I cherish and now it is officially mine. You’ve made me so happy.”
“The honor was always mine.”
She smiled again and slowly walked to him and sat down on his park bench to be with him.
“It is time, my love. It is time to come with me.”
Draco was comforted that he wasn’t alone in this. She was there with him and would see him through to the other side.
“Relax now. I am here. Take a long breath and let your tired heart rest and be at peace,” she told him in a most calming voice.
With what little strength that remained, he carefully placed the Resurrection Stone back inside the Golden Snitch for his Great-Grandson to find. He knew it wouldn't take long.
And then, sitting seemingly alone on a park bench inside a graveyard under a star-filled sky of a warm September evening, Draco Malfoy peacefully took his last breath and finally joined his love on the other side of life.
I had this story in my head for quite some time and thought I'd finally write it out for AditiDraco95's Sad Ending Challenge, because, well... I thought it was pretty sad.
I took a little 'poetic license' in incorporating the snitch, using it as something that can be passed along.
Thanks for reading,
Other Similar Stories
More Than Me...