Chapter 20 : The Last Stand
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He leaned his head over and laid soft kisses on the top of her crown. Her hair emitted it’s usual lavender scent, and his body was awakened instantly. She stirred, and looked sleepily up at him. A small crooked smile found it’s way to her lips. Draco tucked away a stray curl from her face, and lifted her chin to place a needy kiss on her mouth. The heat flash was sudden and welcomed. He didn’t think he could ever get enough of her.
She responded in kind, dragging her hand across his hard chest, her nails biting into his skin as she went. His breath hitched, and he lightly nipped at her bottom lip with his teeth. Draco’s skin was on fire, a result of her bare skin against his. He pulled her swiftly so she was sitting upright and straddling him. Her brown eyes were sultry, meeting his greedy grey.
Suddenly, a loud screeching voice was screaming ‘Master’ from the hallways. Hermione jumped, and looked towards the door. Millie came bursting through, screaming and wailing at the top of her lungs, and clutching a small object to her chest. Both Draco and Hermione flushed, and quickly covered their naked bodies with the comforter.
“Millie! What the hell?” Draco scolded.
“Master! Master! I found this just outside the gate when I was tending to the roses!” Millie slowly outstretched her hands to show him what she had been concealing.
“Millie… Is that what I think it is?”
“Yes, Master!” she screeched.
Draco reached out and cautiously picked up the severed finger from Millie’s grasp. It was slender… female… the nail was precisely groomed… and the large diamond ring that donned the base was all too familiar.
“Draco?” Hermione asked, “Is that…?”
“Yes… It’s my mothers.”
Millie began to wail again, sobbing uncontrollably into her small hands.
“Millie, please go back to the kitchens. This will be taken care of.” Draco ordered. Millie didn’t respond, but moved one foot in front of the other whilst still crying into her hands, and exited the room.
Hermione slightly retched, and covered her mouth with one of her hands before running towards the bathroom. Draco just sat in bed, staring at the finger he knew, beyond a shadow of a doubt, belonged to his mother. He also knew, without a shadow of a doubt, whom could possibly be behind this.
Hermione returned shortly after her sudden flee, and Draco noticed the fear behind her eyes. She lightly kneeled on the bed, and scooted herself as close to him as she could manage. Her eyes never left his.
“What are we going to do?” Hermione asked.
“I’m going to find her. You are going back to The Burrow where I know you will be safe.”
“Draco, you know I’m not going to let you go alone.”
“I wont be alone.”
Draco stalked off, determined. His footfalls were heavy with worry, and his pace was hurried. He quickly grabbed some clothes from the closet and sprinted out the door while struggling to get them on. Hermione sat stunned for a moment, before following suit and gathering her clothes from the floor before searching the home for where he had gone off to.
She found him in the sitting room, his head in the emerald flames of the fire. She took a seat on the couch and waited for him to finish the conversation. She couldn’t hear his voice, but could see his body tremble slightly. She looked down to her own hands, and noticed that they, too, were shaking.
Draco leaned back from the fire and stood to his feet. He outstretched his hand toward Hermione, and she quickly grasped his proffered hand. He wrapped his arms around her, and stepped into the fire.
When she opened her eyes, she found herself in the living room of The Burrow. She was slightly caught off guard by the spontaneous Floo, and thoroughly confused by the destination. She peered around and spotted Harry sitting on the couch with young James in his arms. So this is who he was talking to she thought.
“Draco! I told you you’re not going without me!”
“Told you she wasn’t going to buy it, Malfoy.” Harry chimed in. Hermione sent a seething glare his way, and turned back to face Draco.
“I can’t lose you again,” she whispered.
“And I can’t lose you,” he retorted, “That’s why you are staying. Hermione, it’s to dangerous!”
“But it wasn’t to dangerous when I was risking my own skin to save you from the same foul people?” she said as she threw up her hands in frustration.
“Hermione, I…” Draco trailed off. He was stumped. He knew she had a point, but it still felt different for him this time around. He thought about the dream he had now many nights ago where he couldn’t reach her, but knew she was dead. Seeing her lifeless body, even in his dreams, was enough to tear his soul into more pieces then even Voldemort had managed.
“This is no longer a discussion. We are doing this together,” she wrapped her arms around his waist and nuzzled her head into the crook of his neck. He let out the breath he was unaware he was holding. Defeated, he hugged her back. His eyes met Harry’s, wordlessly begging Harry to help. Harry chuckled silently and shook his head. Draco answered with a sneer.
Ginny strolled into the room, and silently took James from Harry before taking a seat of her own on the couch. “So what’s going to happen then?” she asked. Obviously she was listening to Harry and Draco’s Floo conversation.
“I’m going to check with The Ministry, see if there has been any suspicious activity anywhere, this side of the pond and across.” Harry answered, as he stood. He leaned over to give Ginny a deft kiss, before he walked over to the fire, and Floo’d into his privet office.
Draco peered over at Hermione, “Why haven’t you been going to work lately?” he asked, just realizing that he hadn’t seen her go to the office since before his capture.
“The Ministry shut down my department,” she replied, sullenly.
Draco wrapped his arms around her waist and laid a light kiss on her forehead, “I’m sorry.”
Draco had followed Harry to his office, to try and track down Goyle, leaving Hermione alone in the over-crowed Burrow. She found solace in the small library in one of the top floor rooms. There had been plenty of books released after the second wizarding war, and though she knew the chance of some useful information being in them, she picked up a few and settled into bed to start reading.
She stared at the pages, reading and re-reading the first chapter over again, unable to concentrate on the words before her. She worried over Draco. She knew what it was like to lose parents. She was lucky enough to be able to re-instate her parent’s memories of her, years after the war. She could no longer count the amount of counter-spells she had used before she was finally successful, but when she got it right, and they knew her to be their daughter, the reunion was magical all in itself. She wanted that for Draco. She couldn’t give him his father, but she hoped to give him back his mother.
Ginny had interrupted her thoughts when she came strolling into the room. “I thought I would find you here.”
“I don’t know what else to do,” Hermione replied.
Ginny perched herself on the corner of the bed Hermione was inhabiting, “Love, you know they aren’t coming back, right?”
“I had that inclination, so I charmed Draco’s ring. The one I gave him for Christmas. It lets me know where ever he is as anytime. I’m just waiting for them to leave The Ministry. You coming with?” Hermione asked, a trouble-making gleam in her eye.
Ginny smiled wide, “You know I am. I’m tired of being left behind.”
Suddenly, a loud shrill came from inside Hermione’s clothing. She pulled out a ring; a ring identical to the one she gave Draco. She placed it on her right hand, the mouth of the serpent opened, hissing out an address. Hermione quickly wrote it down, and placed the ring back into her robes. She looked over at Ginny, who was wearing a bigger smile then before.
“Lets go!” Hermione announced.
Hermione and Ginny found themselves on the outskirts Hogsmead. So they wouldn’t be able to track them on magic alone Hermione thought to herself. She looked over at Ginny, who was peering around through the falling snow seeming to access the information.
It was white for as far as the eye could see. The small town’s lights flickered in the distance, and the smoke from the chimneys could barely be seen. Ginny tugged on the arm of Hermione’s clothing, getting her attention, and pointed off into the distance. A small black cloud could be seen under a heavy surface of white. “You think that’s it?” Ginny asked. Hermione nodded her head and the two began to make their way through the snow and trees towards the black smoke.
As they drudged through the heavy snowfall, a sense of urgency grabbed Hermione’s heart. She looked over at Ginny and could see in her eyes that she felt it too. They begin to run towards the smoke, faster and faster.
They finally reached what appeared to camp. There were multiple plain looking tents that dotted the clearing, and a very large fire roaring in the middle. Around the fire and taking cover behind the tents were white and dark wizards and witches alike, mid-battle. Ginny spotted Harry first, and grabbed Hermione as she began to run towards him, shooting curses from her wand as she ran. Hermione’s wand unleashed it’s own furry as she ran towards her friend.
They reached Harry, who was crouched behind what seemed to be a broken down wall. The concrete was blasted to pieces and completely missing in some places. He looked at Ginny with first worry, then utter anger.
“What are you doing?” he yelled.
“This is what it’s all about, isn’t it? Fighting for love?” Ginny responded, just before she crashed her mouth into his and passionately kissed him. Harry responded eagerly, and they seemed to be lost in each other. Hermione peered over the broken concrete, looking for Draco. She couldn’t see him. Fear and panic gripped her soul as she imagined the worst.
A ‘Next Gen’ ran past Hermione, and she quickly sent him to his knees and bound him before placing a sleeping charm on him. She looked over at Harry and Ginny, who were still in their passionate embrace, and coughed loudly, attempting to break their spell. They separated, much to Hermione delight, and she pointed over to the fallen enemy. Harry levitated him into the cover of the trees, and Hermione finally noticed the pile of limbs in the same generally direction.
“Where is Draco?” Hermione questioned.
“He went searching the tents for his Mum”
Hermione nodded, and burst into the nearest tent, keeping her wand jutted out in front of her and sending wild curses at every movement she saw. The tents were charmed with looking standard outside, and multiple rooms inside. Much like the ones her, Harry, and Ron had used during the war. She searched the first tent, tentatively keeping her feet light on the ground so as to not announce her appearance. Empty.
She searched through three more tents, two of which already had multiple people inside fighting for their lives. Hermione helped where she could, taking the ‘Next Gen’ by surprise and binding them as she had the first before leaving them with the Aurors that were there originally. But Draco was nowhere to be found.
She was at the fourth tent, and she slowly pushed aside the flap. What she saw was certain to plague her every thought for the rest of her life. This tent was larger than the others, and appeared to be palace once inside. No doubt to Hermione this was Goyle’s. It had five beautifully decorated hallways that led out from the main entrance. The foyer was large, with priceless art pieces hanging from the walls and a candle chandelier providing the only light hanging low from the ceiling. On the floor of the large room, a large platinum blonde haired man sat on his knees with his shoulders hunched and convulsing over a slender, tall, cold body with hair that matched his.
Hermione could hear him sniffle, before he let out a very feral growl. He jumped to his feet, and whipped around with his wand pointed directly at Hermione. His eyes quickly turned from animalistic to concerned.
“What the bloody hell are you doing here?”
“I told you! We are in this together!” she yelled. Hermione ran to him, wrapping her arms around his waist, and soft tears ran down her cheeks. “Draco, love, I’m so sorry.”
“They never planned to keep her alive. I found her like this,” he cried into her hair. His grip on her became rough and hard as he grabbed onto her with his life and cried out his pain. Draco could hear Hermione breath hitch, and she suddenly sounded like she was choking. He pulled her away from his grasp, thinking he was accidently hurting her, but when he let go, she kept choking for air.
She was grabbing at her throat, and her eyes began to bulge slightly while her face turned a soft shade of blue, darkening as every second past. Draco began to search for the culprit when he noticed a dark shadow down one of the halls. While he was quick with his wand, the shadow was quicker, and Draco was quickly immobilized. He fell to the floor and watched, as Goyle appeared, laughing sinisterly.
“It’s been so easy getting the both of you out of hiding. And people say I’m stupid,” Goyle taunted.
Draco looked over at Hermione, who’s eyes were locked with his and she struggled to breath. Draco tried with all the strength he could muster, but couldn’t break past the curse that was holding him. He couldn’t even speak. Goyle moved towards Hermione, and stood over her with his wand aimed at her neck. She convulsed, as the invisible grip grew tighter around her throat. The muscles in her neck were strained and her face was now very clear purple. Draco watched as she mouthed ‘I love you’ before the light in her eyes dimmed. Draco watched as her body stopped reacting to the torture. Her eyes were no longer bright, but dull, and stared off into the far distance. And Draco couldn’t reach her.
Goyle laughed loudly in triumph, breaking Draco of his trance. For a reason unbeknownst to him, Draco felt a surge of electricity rush through his veins. He was suddenly free of his confines and moving rapidly to his feet. By the look on Goyle’s face, he hadn’t lifted the curse.
With every emotion Draco had felt in the past year; the sorrow, the loss, the happiness, the love, the passion, the hurt, everything, Draco lifted his wand high into the air above him as he locked eyes with Goyle. This man had taken everything from him. There was nothing left in the world worth living for, because of his childhood friend. Small amounts of fire erupted from Draco’s wand, slowly at first, but only for a moment before a large cloud of heat burst from it’s tip and began to engulf everything. Draco waved his wand in a large circle, and watched as Goyle tried to escape, only to be caught inside by Draco’s last conjure.
Draco could hear screams coming from the multiple hallways, knowing more people were hiding back in the darkness, and they too, were trapped. Goyle looked at Draco with a manic expression, before running off down the far hallway, towards the loudest of the screams. Draco ran to Hermione’s body and kneeled next to her before lifting her into his arms. He brushed the hair from her face and tried to wipe the dirt from her cheeks, all the while murming ‘I love you’. Tears began to run rapidly down his face as he closed her lids, and he held his face to her neck. He could feel the lick of the flames as his clothes caught fire and could smell the rancid burning flesh. He didn’t care. The only place he wanted to be was with her. He kneeled on the floor, holding Hermione, vowing to always be where she was…
… And he greeted Death as an old friend.
A/N: So, what does everybody think of the final chapter? I hope you all enjoyed the story, with all it's twist and turns. It was truly a pleasure writing it! Thank you to everybody who has read, reviewed, and loved it.
A great appreciation for my editor Dementors_Kisses, thank you so much for all your help on the story!
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