It's been years. It's been forever, since I last stood in this place
and watched him walking down the stairs with his friends.
I run my hands over the stone walls, unyielding, cold and damp. They
never used to be so old. It was enchantment that made them stand tall
and strong for so many years, flown by in an instant. Gone in a flash.
Yet here's a darker stain.
When the Death Eaters kill, they leave no blood. In a way that makes
them all the more terrifying, all the more deadly. For without blood,
it simply looks like sleep. That's what I thought he was doing.
And I saw the boy who lived die, I gave up hope.
How many had slept? We still don't have exact numbers. All I know is
that those who mattered to me most were gone. I could list their names,
you know. I only survived through sheer luck at the crucial moments
and my own skill in between.
Once I read Shakespeare.
Hogwarts didn't require it, of course. Shakespeare
was a Muggle and nothing more…but my parents advised me too. I didn't
need asking twice. I wanted to know everything, everything I could.
I am Lady Macbeth.
There is blood on my hands, and they will never
For I am not a Death Eater. I killed him with
cold steel and hate, and when he died, the blood pooled around his body
like a blossoming flower. I have slain a dragon, and I'm not proud.
In fact, I cried. He looked so beautiful. In all those years, I never
really looked at him before, and now I wish that I had.
High cheekbones and piercing blue eyes, the silvery
white hair suited his angular face. It had been rather pointed when
we were younger, but age had given him a stronger jawline, made him
handsome. Made him perfect.
I am a murderer.
He didn't deserve to die, and I shouldn't have
tried to kill him. I still see his face, every night in my dreams he
comes before me. Sometimes he laughs. Mostly we sit together under a
tree and talk. Soon we can be together again.
Falling backwards, I stifle a scream at the sudden
pain. Tears spring to my eyes and breath catches in my throat. He is
there, in the shadows, stepping forward, shining bright. The dragon
offers me his hand and I know that whatever happens the guilt is gone.
I am free and light, shining as he does.
I try to take hold of him, but my palm slips
from his, slick with red gore from my own breast, and he shakes his
head before leaving.
She called his name in an urgent, hoarse whisper.
There was no reply, and she forced the tears back as she stared at his
body. Only his eyes swivelled to greet hers, and Hermione knew what
had happened. His entire body was paralysed, and she couldn't reverse
Not without her wand.
Biting her lip, she knelt beside him and started
to roll him into some nearby bushes. Ron's eyes glittered with anger.
"I know you want to come with me, but you can't move! You'll be safe
here." His gaze rested on her empty right hand. "Yes, I haven't got
my wand. But I can still fight. And I will, because Harry needs help."
At the mention of her other best friend, Hermione
felt a tight knot of fear start in her stomach. He was trapped in the
cave somewhere. She'd been disarmed and tied up with Ron. Watched by
Crabbe and Goyle, as Malfoy escorted Harry. Took him straight to Voldemort.
The very first thing the Resistance had taught
them was to always call him by his name. Voldemort.
She stood up and ran towards the cave entrance,
hesitated for a moment, then walked into the skull's mouth.
After tricking Crabbe and Goyle into untying
her…an experience which she didn't want to relive…Hermione had managed
to free Ron. He had knocked Goyle out with a dead branch...the place
was full of dead trees. Unfortunately, he had been hit with the body
lock curse by Crabbe in the process. The skirmish allowed her to sneak
up behind Crabbe, and she managed to hit him with a surprising burst
of strength. Hermione had then snapped both his and Goyle's wands, which
left her to go after Harry. And Draco Malfoy.
How he made her blood boil…the little weasel
had wanted all the glory for himself. Pretending to be on their
side and hiding them from Voldemort, when in fact he'd led Harry
straight to him. Since when had they trusted Draco…it had been stupid
to trust Draco. A stupid mistake that could mean the end of Harry.
Stupid, stupid, stupid.
The cave was cold and clammy, the silence oppressive.
Only the steady dripping of water falling on rock echoed in her ears.
Echo wasn't quite the right word. It was a dull sound, a heavy sound.
Like lead bullets shot from some unimaginably sluggish gun. Guns. At
least with a gun there was a chance…against the death of the soul, the
death to end all death, the death of sleep there was none. She shivered,
and pressed on.
Without her wand she felt naked. It had been
a constant part of her for so long, to be without it was unnatural.
Still, in the past year she'd been taught all about how to survive
without magic, and so the small plastic lighter tied against her ankle
was some security. Cursing under her breath, she lit the dead wood.
This wasn't like her at all. No plan, no back-up, no ideas. Just the
knowledge that she couldn't leave Harry alone in there, with him. With
both of them.
The torch could double up as a weapon, if the
worst came to the worst, which it probably would. Hermione allowed herself
a dry chuckle at the thought that if she returned home without him she
might have to defend herself against Ginny.
It was blacker know, if that was possible. She
supposed that her eyes had readjusted to compensate for the sudden flare
of torchlight, and so were blinded to the darkness. This was more like
her. Analytical, knowing the reason for everything, never trusting
in her own instincts. Sometimes she wished she were more like Ron, or
Sirius, even Harry. Just a few weeks ago, she and Remus had joked about
the…no. That wouldn't do at all. Concentrate on Harry. She could save
him at least.
Suddenly realising large tears were coursing
down her cheeks, Hermione fought the urge to sniff and wiped them away
hurriedly. They hadn't even had time to give him a proper burial. There
was no time for anything, no time to mourn, not anymore. And this certainly
wasn't the time. Concentrate. Focus.
She heard voices and her breath caught sharply
in her mouth. Exhaling slowly, quietly, her ears strained. Left. They
were definitely coming from the left passageway. Glad that she had been
able to base her decision on actual evidence, Hermione ran lightly down
the rough hewn corridor and thanked Godric that they hadn't gone too
Louder now, still she couldn't make out the words.
Her own feet slipping on the water, muttered
curses, hoping she wouldn't fall.
Light at the end of the tunnel, glowing green.
Slower now, time slowing as she saw his face,
saw the others, saw Malfoy smile.
"You'll never win."
"On the contrary, my boy."
Green light filled her vision and tears blurred
her eyes as she fell to the stone ground. Hermione felt her knees
crack, felt her lungs screech for air and she screamed. She screamed,
and yet she couldn't scream, only produce a choked, guttural moan that
came from deep inside, from the pit of her heart.
The light faded.
She looked up.
He was there.
He was standing right in front of her, holding
out a sword. Holding out Harry's sword, and smirking as though they
were in school, eleven years old, and this was the Quidditch pitch.
As if her best friends, as if one of the dearest, closest members of
her bloody family hadn't just been killed. Wasn't just lying
there, behind him, wasn't just dead, and would always be dead,
because for the first time in her life, Hermione Granger had failed.
"Alright there, Granger?"
She couldn't hear him. Standing shakily, all
the while marvelling inwardly at how she could stand, at how she could
see, at how she could so easily ignore this murderer and how easily
she was accepting the end of the world, Hermione, the failure walked
towards the end chamber.
Voldemort was gone. Had uttered the words, and
Disapparated, no doubt.
Harry was there. He was lying on the ground.
He was sleeping.
It hurt like hell to bend those bleeding a and
bruised joints, but she didn't care. Crouching by his side, she stroked
his forehead gently, and stifled a sob.
Unblemished by any scar, he slept.
So cold. His skin, normally glowing with health
and a wind-burnt tan from flying so often, so high, was pale
and bloodless. Untidy hair lay where she pushed it, dark brown in stark
contrast to that white, white skin. There were tears on his cheeks,
salt-water pools that had come from her own eyes. Gently, she wiped
She remembered what he'd told her just yesterday.
"I'll be glad when all this is over."
"I'd never have guessed."
He'd looked at her, smiling, and she rewarded
him with a roll of her eyes. "Well, come on Harry. I'm sure everyone'll
be glad when this is over."
"Obviously. It's just that I need my beauty sleep.
Ginny's been complaining about the bags under my eyes…"
She had giggled, then felt her own face reproachfully.
"I know what you mean. Ron swears I'll always be beautiful to him…but
then you know what he's like."
"Oh, I know. That's what I'm most looking forward
Hermione removed her cloak, pressed her lips
to his cheek in a final reminder of love, of friendship and covered
his body. He'd like to be warm, at least.
First things first. Now, there was the small
matter of revenge. She stood slowly, and turned around.
She tried to keep the venom from her voice, and
found it impossible. Spat at him. "What? What? Harry is dead.
"Granger, you really are stupid…"
And then it happened. She snapped, she completely
snapped. It was as though the sane part of her was ripped away by invisible
hands which gave her unnatural strength, unnatural speed. Adrenaline
made her nerves twitch, her body liquid fire.
She scratched him.
Slashing out at his face, her fingernails raking
across his skin. He flinched away, and she grabbed the sword.
Hermione stabbed him.
And it was faster than silver lightning. No thought,
just action. It felt strange, the steel running through flesh, through
sinew, hitting bone. The sound it made reminded her of the water dripping
in the entrance cave, so dull and final. It wasn't like anything she'd
ever done or seen before. Even in Muggle cinemas. Nothing could have
prepared her for the sound, or the slight resistance of skin, or the
smell of iron blood, or the look of shock and confusion in his eyes…
Thought returned. As his body hit the floor,
she wondered why he'd been left standing there. As the sword fell from
her hand, she wondered why Harry hadn't fought back. As he choked in
the effort to draw breath she recalled how Harry and Draco had been
thick as thieves in the past few weeks, as though keeping a secret.
As his head cracked solidly against the wall of the cave, she remembered
that their mission had been to find Voldemort. As red filled her vision,
she realised that Harry had found Voldemort. Draco had taken him to
Draco had done exactly what Harry wanted.
And who had said Avada Kedavra.
And who did the scar really belong to.
And who was dead.
And who was only asleep.
And who had she killed.
Her eyes wide in horror, she grabbed his wand
from the floor, scraping her knuckles. Frantically tried to remember
the spell, didn't know where to start. Those dragon grey eyes closed,
clouded over crimson.
"Enervate! Enervate! Please, please, god,
please, no…no, you killed him, you killed him…Voldemort killed
him, you were helping…please…"
There was a cough.
Like some monster in a bad dream, in a nightmare,
he rose. He sat up, and blinked. "Hermione?"
"I killed him. Voldemort's dead. It's over! It's
all over…I was the key! I was the weakness, just like we always thought.
Dumbledore had to keep it a secret, with Draco working on the inside,
like a double agent…it was so simple, I just had to…Hermione?"
She raised shaking hands, hands that were covered
He stared. His eyes flickered down, down to see
a matted mess of hair that had once been described as silver.
There was silence, and nobody slept.
I lie here, in the grave of my own making, and
cry. I lie here, and still I am guilty. Even my own life is not precious
enough to absolve me of my sins. Oh Father, hear this poor sinner, who
has slain in vain. Who has sinned twice, and taken her own soul to another
I shall go to Hell.
He is walking away from me, so beautiful with
his mocking grey eyes. I never loved him. Perhaps that is why he mocks
I can hear someone calling me. Someone who I
loved in my heart, my same heart that is pouring all over the flagstone
floor. He is calling my name, he is screaming my name, he is screaming
Beyond help now, his words fade into the air.
I am alone, and there is blood on my hands once