Into Dust

October 9, 2011
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Someone is screaming. The sound is harsh, deafening, the voice distantly familiar. It is not alone; several cries of anguish echo in the night sky. She wonders, only for a second, who it could be. But it doesn’t matter to her now. Loss- she has learnt to sew her life back when it strikes, even though it strikes on the same weakened seams. Impassively, she thinks about how long she can last. Not long enough, she knows.

War. She remembers when it had sounded heroic, when she would imagine the trumpets blaring in Diagon Alley, the smile on Harry’s face, the glory that would come, the legends they would become. She remembers when there was hope, always, and when their bodies were fuelled with pure adrenaline. How sure she had been. How foolish.

How ignorant.

There is no hope now. There is only the instinct for survival; the treacherous virtue which makes people turn on their best friends. There is only redemption, and vengeance.

There are only battered hearts fighting for their one last chance at life.

This war is not fought for her, for Harry, for anyone alive. It is fought for the future, so that families could be whole again, so that mothers could sing their children to sleep with songs of the heroes who died for them. If she is sure of one thing tonight, it is the fact that no one will go home unscathed tonight. No one will go home complete.

They are too strong, she knows. They are too strong and they are cold. She envies their ability to fight without any feeling, except venom, and the desire to kill. She wants to not feel, to shut out the overwhelming emotions threatening to consume her. But she cannot.

Her feelings have changed; there is no doubt about it. But they have not gone. She still feels the blood in her heart, in her fingertips. She still feels her breath quicken, and her heart stutter. She still feels him.

She stands on a staircase of her old school, her arm rising and falling, jets of red light shooting from the end of it. Her eyes are vacant, and her mind is far away. Memories, broken and hazy, dance in her mind, but she ignores them, muttering deadly spell after another, injuring, murdering. The brown liquid in her eyes look beyond, flickering with an unfamiliar tension, and scan face after face, searching, searching.

But he is not there.

She glances to see Ron clutch his wand tighter as he turns to face Bellatrix, who is sneering. It should matter to her now, but it does not. She finds that she cannot care. Ron is shaking, perhaps, she thinks, he knows he is dying. A witch like Bellatrix is driven by the lethal combination of definite skill and the ceaseless urge to please her master. She watches, frozen, and Ron’s eyes widen as they see Lestrange make her final, fatal move. His body falls, lifeless, crumpled, and she feels a remote pang somewhere in her stomach. A sudden rush of urgency grips her mind. Run, it tells her. Run.

She begins to move through the throng of people around Ron’s body, and nods dumbly at Harry, who gives her a blank stare, the look of a man far from reality. She feels a sudden sense of responsibility towards her dead friend and his family, but it ebbs. She is not that girl anymore. She doesn’t want any of it. She hasn’t for some time now. She only wants him.

Grief- how strange, it seems to her, that people lower their wands to mourn for the dead, unknowingly inviting death itself. She is foreign to that feeling. She does not mourn- but waits, anxious. Because she knows he is alive. Because she knows there is no life without him.

Death. How close it lurks, waiting, always waiting, for the faintest mistake, ready to sneak around the back and snuff out a life. She can feel it now, pressing against the walls of the castle, her heart. How long can she stand, defending herself? She can feel her feeble excuses running out. But there is that wretched thing, the hope which lingers in her stomach and sears her blood. The hope which tells her that he is alive. She curses herself for it; she knows that hope never erases reality, but she cannot let it go. She knows that hope can break men, but she cannot forget it.

And with that hope burning in the centre of her heart, she breathes.

It is dusk now. The stars are dulled beneath the fog of death and provide little light on this moonless night. And yet she walks, hair pulled back, fingertips cold. She walks away from the castle, her feet walking on their own, whether to her death, she does not know.

But she knows that she must go.

The way is littered with broken bones and corpses, and is almost impossible to recognise. Mourners- some wailing- kneel in front of the hundreds of dead warriors. She sees Remus Lupin’s pale form, lying peacefully on the grass. It drives a knife through her heart, and she feels Death press closer.

Her heart beats faster, and she quickens her pace. Memories engulf her again, and this time she lets them. The pale arch of his neck. The sun dancing on his skin. His lips framing her face. Her hands in his blonde hair.

His eyes. Calling her, beckoning her, making her knees buckle.

She has reached the edge of the forest now. She can see, in the distance, two forms, each yelling curse after curse, voices laced with venom. She shields her eyes as she sees the blinding fusion of red and green emerging from two powerful wands.

She recognises the voice of Nymphadora Tonks, and she feels sweat on her palms. The memory of Lupin’s corpse floods her mind and cuts like a broken shard. She thinks faintly of Teddy, a part of the future they all fight about tonight. She must save him, she knows. She must let him start afresh, without the burdens of their mistakes. She must give him a chance at life.

She raises her wand, and takes a step forward, ready to fight. Killing does not terrify her now; it does not taint her soul. She opens her mouth, the curse ready on her tongue.

And then she stops, her body numbly falling to its knees.

The other voice is his.

She feels a rush of emotions spinning in her head. Her body aches to see him, to wrap her arms around him and take him home. She fought for this. For him. She longs to hear his voice, whispering in her ear, sending shivers down her spine.

Her mind reminds her of Teddy, of the oath that she made to him, a promise that she cannot break. Images flash in her mind, but one lingers- Harry bent over, searching for a withered piece of parchment at Grimmauld Place, the evidence which would tell him his mother had lived. And then Teddy, gurgling, holding his mother’s finger, smiling for the cameras. She remembers looking at him standing next to her then, and smiling. Maybe one day.

Fate. Maybe it has kept her alive so that she can make this one final choice.

Her brain tells her to stand, and she gingerly gets up. Hers legs are still shaking violently and she can feel them threatening to give in. She wraps her fingers around her wand and takes a deep breath.

Maybe, on some other day, she would have chosen herself. But not tonight.

Tonight, she fights for the greater good.

Her eyes well as she begins walking towards him. She can see his silhouette, his body gracefully avoiding the curses that Tonks throws at him. She gasps as she sees his face, platinum blonde hair covering his eyes. There is blood on his hands, and his shirt is torn.

Time can never make her forget the way he makes her feel.

He glows like an ethereal presence, and she almost wants to believe that he is. For a second, she wants to believe he is as she would want him to be, pure, untouched. But she cannot forget what he really is, what he has become.


He does not see her, and shoots a Stunning spell, which hits Tonks squarely in the chest. She doubles over, and her body falls, limp but alive. She feels a moment of relief; maybe his intention was not to kill after all. But then he walks over to the unconscious body and points his wand at it.

‘Avada Ked-‘

‘Stop.’ The sound pierces the air, and she hears him catch his breath as he turns around.

His eyes fix on her, and for a moment she feels as if her knees might buckle again. His hands are shaking as he steps forward. She breathes his honey and musk scent in. Her lip quivers, and she can feel a maddening desire to run her fingers over his face.

He is too close. Too close.


She hears a sharp gasp emerge from her throat and closes her eyes as she feels her walls break. Suddenly his lips are on hers, his fingers in her dishevelled hair. She wraps her fingers around his neck and closes her eyes.

This is it, her heart tells her. This is the reason she has lived.

She hears his breathing quicken as he breaks away to gasp for air. Her heart breaks as she looks into his eyes, and in that moment, she knows her love has not been in vain. She knows her flame will not die unkindled.

But die it must.

She knows that beneath those layers of feeling that she revels in, sleeps a monster, a murderer. She knows that if she walks away tonight, she walks towards a child who has been orphaned because of her.

She turns around and faces Tonks, who has just begun to gain consciousness. He looks sharply at the moaning figure, but she does not miss the hostility in his expression.

He made his choice. And she made hers.

He wraps a strong arm around her waist and buries his face in her hair. She leans her head back and feels his breath on her cheek. She knows now. She knows she must let him go.

She sighs and entwines her fingers in his. Clenching them tightly, she drops his hand.

‘I’m sorry.’ He understands, of course. She suspects he knows from the beginning.

Immediately, he lets go of her hand, and takes a step backward. He drops his gaze, and runs a nervous hand through his hair. He knows, perhaps, that he is no match for her talent; that he must lose.

But she doesn’t want him to. A part of her wants him to win, so that she can drift into death, innocent and vulnerable. A part of her blames Fate, the ominous presence that cuts like fragments of jagged glass. Maybe she has known, all along, at the bottom of her heart that they would end up like this. That their memories would always be incomplete. That they would never have a happy ending.

She knows that she has never imagined life without him. She knows that this step is final, that the loss will be like nothing she has ever felt. She knows it will break her, and yet the will driving her pale fingers becomes stronger than ever.

She raises her wand, and he drops his.

‘Pick it up.’ She motions towards the fallen stick and he shakes his head.


‘Do it.’

‘I could never hurt you, Hermione.’ His voice is calm, but his grey eyes betray the fear that he feels.

‘Draco.’ Her voice comes out in a ragged whisper.

He looks straight into her eyes and she holds his gaze. Her fingers tremble, and her mangled heart beats erratically.

‘Draco.’ She says his name, again and again, feeling it on her tongue. He looks at her, eyes wide, and she watches as he runs his eyes over her face, her body. Somehow, she knows that he is doing that same thing as her: savouring the last moment.

‘Draco.’ She says it for the last time with a hint of regret, and a definite undercurrent of finality.

He draws his breath, and she waits for him to speak.

‘Hermione. I love you.’

She hates him for this. She hates him for breaking her, repeatedly. She is crying, and she feels the tears stream down her face. He reaches out and gently wipes one from her face.

She must do it now, she knows. Before it is too late.

She steps back and he nods, perhaps to himself. He closes his eyes and clenches his fists, bracing himself.

She knows that this is the moment.

‘Avada Kedavra.’

Into dust.

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NLGranger7 said...
Mar. 19, 2012 at 2:21 pm
This reduced me to tears :'(
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