Hermione Granger Apparated with a soft 'pop' on the lawn of the Weasley's
overgrown front garden. In an almost unconscious gesture, she reached
up and smoothed down her recalcitrant hair, tucking stray ends behind
She turned to look up at the tumbledown little cottage, and a bittersweet
smile touched her lips. She had always loved this house, and all its eccentric
She began to walk up the garden path toward the front door, taking her
time as she reflected on the weird and wonderful Weasleys.
They had become like a second family to her over the past few years.
The irony of that being that once upon a time she had dreamed that she
would be part of their family in a very real sense. Now there seemed little
likelihood of that, and instead of being bound to them by love, she was
bound by sadness. By the grief of their mutual losses.
Losing Harry to an Obliviate course mere hours after Voldemort's defeat
had been unbearable. But losing Ron as well… Hermione bit her lip and
blinked hard against rising tears.
For Heaven's sake, it had been two years, and still she couldn't fight
down this constant, debilitating pain. Why? Why did he leave us? Why
did he leave me alone?
She wished she could remember the day of Voldemort's attack more clearly.
Perhaps then this would all make more sense. But as things were, all she
could recollect was confusion and panic… and Harry, standing in the midst
of it all, his body still and his expression hardened with resolution.
She had opened her mouth, wanting to tell him he had to move, wanting
to demand that he flee with everyone else. But the words wouldn't come.
She knew he would never heed them anyway. And looking at his face, she
knew what he was planning to do.
She wasn't aware that Ron had moved to stand beside her until he spoke,
his voice hard. "He can't do this alone."
Hermione turned to look up at him. "What can we do?" She whispered.
Ron's expression didn't change as he looked down to meet her gaze. "We'll
do what we've always done," he said sombrely, "We'll stick together.
And we'll be there for him."
Hermione could not remember loving any one the way she had loved Ron
at that moment. Unable to speak, she slipped her hand into his and squeezed.
He seemed to understand.
By that time the halls of Hogwarts had cleared entirely, and only the
three of them were left standing in the eerie silence.
Harry didn't even seem to have noticed them there. He was completely
focused on the doorway at the end of the room they stood in.
Suddenly he grimaced and raised one hand press it over his scar. With
his other hand, he levelled his wand.
Something evil was coming.
Hermione gripped her wand and tightened her grasp on Ron's hand. The
knowledge that she was probably about to die almost overwhelmed her with
fear. But somewhere deep inside, she knew that she was where she was meant
to be. She could never have left to cower in a corner, knowing that Harry
was facing this alone. Ron was right. They had to be there for one another.
Now and always.
At that moment the door slammed open and Ron and Hermione both jumped.
Harry barely flinched.
Three people entered the room, black robes billowing behind them.
One of them was Voldemort, the Dark Lord himself.
Another was Lucius Malfoy, his thin face already twisted in gleeful triumph
as he faced them.
And the third was Severus Snape, his dark, closed face registering no
After that, Hermione's memories were fragmented, unclear. There was talking,
then shouting. There were flashes of light, and angry Curses deflected
by counter Curses, then a strange silver-blue glow that seemed to stream
from Harry's wand. Suddenly the air was full of … animals. Ghostly shapes
of animals. Hermione didn't understand. She was shouting Curses of her
own, and struggling to deflect them as they flew toward her from all directions.
A bolt of power caught her in the side of the head, and she swayed. She
remembered Ron calling her name. Then there was nothing but darkness.
When she opened her eyes, the room was quiet, and she was still lying
on the cold stone floor. Ron's stricken face hovered above hers. When
he saw her awake, his relief was tangible.
"Is Harry - ?"
"He's OK," Ron told her softly, reaching down to touch her
cheek in a gesture of uncharacteristic tenderness. "Everything's
She struggled into a sitting position, and her head throbbed as she turned
her head to look around. Two figures were sprawled on the far side of
the room, unmoving. A third shape on the ground looked like a pile of
discarded robes - Voldemort had vanished completely.
"Professor Snape - is he -?"
Ron nodded, his face reflecting confusion. "Yeah, he's dead. It
wasn't us though. When the fighting started he aimed his Curses at Voldemort
and Malfoy. He fought on our side. Malfoy realised and … killed him. I
don't understand it. I never thought Snape would… That he was…"
A wave of regretful sadness passed over Hermione. "Dumbledore was
right to trust him, then," she said softly. "We were fools not
to realise what Dumbledore's judgement was worth."
She turned her head to look for Harry. He was slumped against the wall,
his head down and his black hair hanging in his face. She could not discern
Wanting to go to him, she forced herself to stand. Ron held her arm and
steadied her. She gave him a wan smile of thanks.
And that was the moment when the door slammed for a second time, and
someone else entered the room.
It was Draco Malfoy.
But it was not Draco as they were used to seeing him. This Draco was
no cold, snide, dignified Slytherin snob. His robes were torn and his
breath was coming in gasps, as if he had been running. His face was smeared
with blood from a gash above his eye, and his right arm hung at an unnatural
angle, broken. His eyes were wild, their whites showing clearly.
He shuddered to a halt, his limbs trembling with exhaustion and excitement.
He looked at them, then to his father, sprawled lifeless on the stone
floor, then back to them.
"You killed him!" He accused, breathless and shocked. He gave
a strange high pitched giggle. "You killed him. Now I have to kill
you." He raised his wand with his left hand.
"Don't be a fool, Malfoy," Ron said disdainfully, "Look
at the state you're in. You don't have the strength to summon an Unforgivable
Draco hesitated, then unexpectedly, his eyes narrowed and he nodded.
"No. You're right. I've lost too much blood."
A small, mad smile began to form on his thin, bloodless lips. "But
there are worse things than death, don't you think Weasley? If I can't
kill you all, perhaps I'll settle for making your lives a living hell...
That might be even better, hmm?"
His eyes darted sharply from side to side, and settled on Harry, who
had lifted his head to watch Malfoy with an expression of wearied contempt.
Draco's face suddenly brightened maliciously, as though he had been struck
by an idea. "How would you and Weasley cope, Potter," he inquired
silkily, "If I turned your little Mudblood pet into a mindless lunatic?
One good Obliviate Curse would do it, you know. She'd never recognise
either of you ever again. Clever little Hermione Granger with her mind
wiped clean - the idea appeals to me. How would you live with yourself,
Potter? Knowing your friend's insanity was the cost of knowing you? And
you, Weasley, if I slated your girlf -"
Then everything happened very quickly. Ron's wand jerked up and his cry
of "Expelliramus" cut Draco's tirade short. But Draco
seemed to anticipate the move, and he deflected the spell almost in the
same breath as his shout of "Obliviate Totalus!"
The spell shot from the tip of his wand, and Hermione watched the purple
flash flying toward her, as if in slow motion. She didn't know a counter
Curse. She was dead, or as good as dead, and she'd never even told Ron
that she -
But now there was something else in her field of vision, a blurred shape,
launching into the path of the spell.
A moment later, there was a dull thud, and Harry was lying on the floor.
Draco was grinning manically, and Ron was shouting furious disarming Charms,
and someone was crying - Hermione wished they would shut up, didn't they
know this wasn't the time for hysterics?
She threw herself down by Harry's side, and rolled him over so that he
was looking straight at her.
Green eyes blinked at her. His glasses were broken, hanging askew from
one ear. He didn't seem to have noticed.
"Harry - Harry - are you OK? Do you know who I am? Harry?"
she realised that she was the one who had been crying. Her voice was choked
with frantic tears.
Harry shook his head very slightly, and continued to stare blankly at
But the Boy Who Lived did answer.
He not know his own name.
He was gone.