The Sugar Quill
Author: Swirly Head (Professors' Bookshelf)  Story: Blood On My Hands  Chapter: Default
The distribution of this story is for personal use only. Any other form of distribution is prohibited without the consent of the author.

**

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.

Sleeping.

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 be clean.

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.

*****

"Ron!"

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 the spell.

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 far.

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.

Saw Harry.

Heard him.

"You'll never win."

"On the contrary, my boy."

Breathe.

"I."

In.

"Already."

Out.

"Have."

In.

"Avada Kadavra!"

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 them away.

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 to, though…sleep."

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.

"What?"

She tried to keep the venom from her voice, and found it impossible. Spat at him. "What? What? Harry is dead. He's 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…

Confusion.

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 him.

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.

Murderer.

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.

She turned.

"H…Hermio…"

Like some monster in a bad dream, in a nightmare, he rose. He sat up, and blinked. "Hermione?"

She stared.

He smiled.

"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 in blood.

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 place.

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 me so.

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 for help.

Beyond help now, his words fade into the air.

I am alone, and there is blood on my hands once more.

 

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