“Why does she look like she has dung under her nose?” A voice whispers.
Hermione shoots a sharp glance at the group before the remark progresses into a round of jokes and sniggering.
One night, in between drunken laughs and songs, Ginny had told her they should capture The Glare and place it at the entrance, and next to it a ‘thumbs up’ from the animagus form of Professor McGonagall.
It was not one of their best nights. Especially when said professor found them on the floor the next morning.
Nonetheless, the expression is effective, and as always, it buys her a few seconds until —
“Is that Hermione Granger?” One of the children nudges the other to take a closer look.
Here it comes.
Unlike Ron, who has a real knack for ‘PR', she doesn’t bask in the admiration and gawking as much. But she does understand the importance of having someone to look up to, and does her best.
She throws them a warm smile and waits for the typical barrage of fans to begin.
“They said you had stopped coming as often!”
“You look really different in the Chocolate Frog Card!”
“Your adventure in the Pacific Islands was so exciting!”
Taking out her quill, she signs every card and book, answers all of the questions with patience, and nods at ideas shared with her. A mess of brown curls appears in the corner of her eye, and she saves her for last.
The crowd finally disperses, and she crouches to match the girl’s height.
“Miss Granger?” brown eyes ask, clutching a stack of books.
“I’m muggle-born too,” the girl says solemnly, a hint of pride in her voice. Instead of raising her hand enthusiastically to every question Hermione had asked the students, the girl had silently mouthed the answers to most of them, only volunteering to answer when it was clear that nobody else could.
She relishes these moments. This is a world she had fought for — a place where muggle-borns can declare their heritage without an ounce of shame or fear, and where they don’t have to prove themselves as much.
“That’s good to know,” Hermione returns encouragingly.
“And I’ve read all your books on magical portraits,” the girl says. “I have some questions. And some thoughts.”
“And I look forward to reading them.” She demonstrates a spell that bears her magical signature, one she invented for owls to locate her anywhere.
The class, along with other visitors, has moved on to another hall. The girl, however, is content to stay with her. Sitting beside her on the bench and sucking on a Sugar Quill, of which Hermione gets a lifetime supply for her ‘endorsement’, the girl works on her homework and asks the occasional question.
She points to it.
“Why does it say ‘dead’?”
She wasn’t there.
She hadn’t been since the moment Bellatrix Lestrange moved her wand — and then later, her knife. Hermione drifted with the waves, letting them carry her in and out of consciousness, backwards and forwards in time, closer to and further from reality.
As soon as she could walk, she had begged Harry and the Weasleys for a moment of solitude. Harry, having spent hours alone out here since their arrival, had understood and relented.
“Call for us if you need anything, yeah?” Ron had held onto her arm — the unmarred one — for a little longer. His expression was so sincere and intense, Hermione knew he would hear her even if she whispered for help. She could only squeeze back, her other hand around a pin that had turned into nothing more than scrap metal.
But it was still warm to hold, unlike the body of Dobby or the sand that surrounded him, and the stone that bore the words ‘free elf’, which her fingers traced absently again and again.
Could he see them then? Did he feel the tears of humans who had loved him, useless as they were? Were beings still segregated by their difference from one another where he was?
Definitely not, she assured herself. Never would Dobby stay in a realm so unjust and unfair. She was sure of that.
When her hand felt the heat, she heard it.
“Don’t turn around,” A hoarse voice calls out.
She heard it, felt the injuries through the voice. Fearing the worst, she turned anyway.
“She hurt you.” Hermione gasped at the sight.
Narcissa Malfoy shook her head. “You bore the brunt of it, unfortunately. This was the work of the Dark Lord.”
“He — he — but you didn’t do anything!” She knew it was a futile argument, that another escape — and one so close this time — was ample enough reason to invoke his wrath. The lack of response from the older witch told her that much.
But if everyone had ended up here anyway, what was the damn point?
“Don’t be,” Narcissa said. “I should be the one to apologise for what had happened to you.”
She shook her head. “You were only doing what I had asked. Dobby, though…”
Narcissa bowed her head. “I...did not expect that.”
“There was something in her vault, wasn’t there?" At the Manor, even through Hermione’s pleas and begs for the torture to stop, she had been able to sense it. Sense Lestrange’s fear from the slightly more hysterical laugh, saw the glint of desperation when Lestrange looked at her handiwork with glee.
“I had never seen Bel— my sister so out of control,” Narcissa said. “Knowing for certain that you didn’t break into her vault was the only way I could convince her so.”
“And now she’s going to increase the wards around it,” she said, frustrated at how close, yet far, they were.
“Do you still believe?”
Did she? When she felt that her heart was going to give out any second, unable to withstand another crucio? Did she believe when they unwrapped the bandage on her arm, revealing a slur meant to define her forever? When her nightmares wouldn’t leave until Fleur held her tight and sang her to sleep?
She looked over at Narcissa, at the barely concealed pain, the shivering, and how the older witch, just like she, was hanging by a thread. All of the injuries, however, paled at the resolve shining through blue eyes.
“I do," Hermione says.
Narcissa nodded. Hand trembling still, she removed a box from her robe. Hermione resisted the urge to still the tremors with her own hand, and wrapped her fingers around the lid instead.
In it lay a strand of black hair.
“It’s — this is —” Hermione spluttered.
“Hermione?” Someone was calling for her from the cottage.
“Go now — we’re running out of time,” Narcissa whispered, pushing her towards the house gently. “Don’t look back.”
She didn’t. With an accuracy and precision she had practiced all her life, she brewed the perfect Polyjuice, which — judging from their reaction — met the approval of the boys. The next thing she knew, they were hanging on to a dragon, her arm burning from the deadly tight grip of Ron.
They sprinted forward, forward, and forward, one foot in front of the other, until they were in Hog’s Head, stuffing their faces and half-ignoring Aberforth’s advice to give up. She was particularly unfazed when he remarked that people were better off being left alone by Professor Dumbledore, and Aberforth gave her a look that was both shrewd and curious.
She looked away, wondering if he knew about their sixth year, and the guilt she still carried for the late Headmaster — and a free elf.
And then she was engulfed in hugs and heat. First from members of Dumbledore’s Army, then from Ron when he suggested they move out the rest of the house-elves from Hogwarts. The third time was when she was stuck between Ron and Goyle, literally fleeing for their lives because that idiot of a Crabbe had cast a Fiendfyre in a bloody room. If she weren’t so terrified, she would have laughed at how Draco couldn’t get it right even when he tried.
She thought she heard Narcissa’s voice, clear and loud from the forest, and she felt everything change. Before she knew it, it was all over. No more close calls, no more warring. The past hour had whizzed by — the crying, the screaming, the fighting — Harry had survived, and Voldemort was finally defeated.
The three of them held each other close, watching the Malfoys cross the bridge to leave Hogwarts. Narcissa didn’t look back, and Hermione was too exhausted to do anything but smile, knowing they would meet again. Soon.
Then the bridge exploded.
“We will now begin to count the votes.”
They had ten days until the opening ceremony, and the committee was still fighting about things such as colours. Her scar had throbbed — as did her head — every time someone raised some frivolous and non-consequential issue, because she knew.
Knew that everything was brought up to stall the voting process ever since she had put in her request.
“Albus Dumbledore, Severus Snape: unanimous.”
After nine weeks of searching for the bodies of Lucius and Narcissa Malfoy, the Ministry had given up and declared their demise. The official report stated that the explosion was set off by multiple curses that hit it, but had not revealed when the curses were performed.
Sitting at the kitchen table of her parents — both of whom had returned with their memories intact — Hermione had written to the committee of her nomination immediately.
That Narcissa Malfoy’s be one of the eight portraits featured in the main hall.
“Sirius Black, Remus Lupin: large majority.”
Draco, miraculously surviving the incident, had held a quiet funeral. Before she could speak to him about which portrait he had in mind, Professor McGonagall had steered her aside, urging her to return for her seventh year at Hogwarts. The then-official Headmistress along with herself, Harry, Ginny, Kingsley, and Andromeda, were the only six people present, and Draco’s eyes had shone with gratitude.
She had fidgeted impatiently when Kingsley cornered her next, saying, “Right before the Ministry fell, someone from Hogwarts had sent me an essay of yours.”
Her attention still focused on locating the Malfoy heir before he disappeared, she nodded distractedly. “What was it about?”
“Five things to change in the Wizarding World,’ Kingsley replied. “I had held on to it, and I am saving it for the day you graduate from Hogwarts, Miss Granger.”
She had nearly laughed at that. Getting a small committee to agree on Narcissa had already been a constant battle, escalating to a point where it had been leaked to the press.
“Fred Weasley. Charity Burbage. Dobby: narrow majority.”
It had become serious then: the committee sent her a list of alternative nominees that filled four scrolls of parchment, first ranked by achievements, then by deeds. She had been impressed by how they knew to appeal to her; she only wished they knew no logical or rational thinking could change her mind on this.
The men hadn’t understood either: Harry had decided to stay neutral, but not before pointing out that Narcissa Malfoy had probably lied as a self-serving act, to protect Draco or Lucius. Ron, having noticed her increased interaction with Draco, had asked outright if there was something going on between them.
She told them nothing, jealously guarding her history with the older witch to herself. After all, all she was left with were a broken piece of metal, a blanket, and the letter that came with it.
“Narcissa Malfoy: minority. Two votes.”
She stood up.
Kept her gaze on the table and ignored the eyes on her.
“Harry James Potter, you know I would give you anything you need — and I have. And I‘ve never asked for anything in return from you or The Order, even when my parents were in danger.
“If you value my contributions and sacrifices, or me as a friend at all…”
She walked out of the room alone.
Whoever had insisted on this colour was actually right — the deeper shades of red was a great complement to the mahogany walls. They also marvelled at the lights that had been enchanted to adjust themselves to the weather or occasion.
The official entourage left the wing of the First Wizarding War, looking away as Harry wiped his face discreetly.
Everyone paused their steps when they stepped into the main hall of the second wing. The rain had just stopped, and sunlight streamed through the transparent glass ceiling as well as the full length windows. The eight portraits, each the size of the windows, surrounded the room in a perfect circle. A pensieve and curtains accompanied each painting, giving visitors privacy if they wished for it.
Right before they unveiled the last portrait, Hermione stepped back, motioning Draco to join the group. He was more subdued than she had expected when she brought him the good news, and she had attributed it to grief.
Harry and Ron looked at her questioningly, indicating that they could make room for her, and she nodded to reassure them that it was alright. She preferred to be alone when she lay her eyes on it — their interaction always took place when the world stilled, quieted, and shrunk to fit just the two of them, never under any other circumstance, and she wanted to keep it that way.
She stepped forward when the crowd moved to the smaller halls, and looked up.
It was magnificent.
This was Narcissa Malfoy in her glory, painted by one of the finest portraitists galleons could hire. It must have been commissioned before the war, because not a single line that had later graced the face of the older witch could be found.
It was everything Hermione had imagined, and yet — nothing she recognised. As she stared at it, she realised why: the portrait had captured all of the arrogance, the aristocratic features, and the captivating smile of the Malfoy matriarch.
But none of her vulnerability.
This wasn’t a witch who had agonised over the possibility of sacrificing young adults to Voldemort; kept a mudblood fed through winter; and ensured that a muggle couple navigated their escape safely.
Did this Narcissa wonder if she would ever live beyond her namesake? Realise she would come to perform acts that change the outcome of a war? Keep her promise to a young witch that she would prioritise the cause over the Hermione's life?
Would she even know Hermione?
It was alright. She remembered enough for all of them.
Her eyes trailed to the golden plaque beside the portrait, on which Narcissa’s achievements were encapsulated with a single word.
And the following descriptions —
- Saved Harry Potter from Voldemort at The Battle of Hogwarts (1998).
Witness: Harry Potter
- Saved Harry Potter, Hermione Granger and Ron Weasley at Malfoy Manor (1998). Witness: Aberforth Dumbledore
She spun around.
Her loud and hurried footsteps echoed across the hall, scaring several jumpy wizards into thinking Voldemort was back and going after Hermione Granger.
She reached the memorial cafe and grabbed the sleeve of Aberforth Dumbledore. He stilled her hand, half-jesting, “Miss Granger, I have only one decent set of robes — one I have kept for half a century, and I intend to keep it that way.”
“You — you were the other vote,” she panted, catching her breath.
“Yes, I assumed you knew that much.”
She shook her head fervently. “I thought it was Ron’s.”
“Yes. Rather disappointing, wasn’t it? I expected more gratitude from him.”
“But she didn’t!” she said. “She didn’t save us!”
“Miss Granger,” he said, his expression turning somber as he caught on. “She most certainly did. I don’t think I’ve ever seen Narcissa Malfoy utter something that wasn’t a command or insult, much less beg for help.”
“Tell me — please, tell me everything!”
“It’s much easier if you use the pensi — oh alright then,” he said, giving in. Insisting that she first took a cup of tea for herself, he guided her out of the building.
He told her how Narcissa had apparated into the Hog’s Head, looking for Professor McGonagall, then resorting to asking him for help.
“It would be quite a coincidence if I had looked into the mirror right when you were captured, wouldn’t it?”
“She sent — she made you send Dobby?” she asked, horrified.
“That she did not do, Miss Granger. In fact, nobody had expected that — I had little confidence in getting Mr Potter and Mr Weasley out unscathed, much less you, as you were already in the hands of Lestrange,” he said apologetically.
“Mrs Malfoy offered her knowledge and skills of an ancient ritual that would secure the lives of all of you, and needed my assistance and ingredients.”
“An ancient ritual…” she swallowed. “A price was involved?”
“Indeed.” Aberforth nodded. “A life for a life — Pettigrew for Mr Potter, Lestrange for Mr Weasley, and —”
“Hers for mine,” she whispered.
“Dobby was never meant to be it. But if you’re familiar with dark rituals, they never turn out exactly the way you want them to.
“Lucius Malfoy being another example.”
“What do you mean?”
“He certainly perished.”
Her eyes widened at the implication. “Why didn’t you bring it up —”
“— to the Ministry? I did,” he said. “But they had a multitude of problems following the war, and it is possible that it was caused by Death Eaters that had escaped. Maybe she took it as an opportunity to disappear, to protect those she loved. After all, her betrayal of Tom Riddle was rather public, wasn’t it?”
She remained in the garden until the memorial closed. Aberforth had patted her shoulder before leaving, saying he would make her excuses for her.
And when night fell, she walked towards the pensieve.
Her knuckles hurt from the impact.
“Did Aberforth — did you know that your mother could be...still here?” she asked even before Draco could open the door fully.
“I did. Granger — let me finish!”
“She told me, told me not to go looking for her,” Draco continued, “That wherever she is, she would be free.”
“Dead or alive?” she asked quietly.
“Either — that she would be free, dead or alive.”
“And you just — obeyed?”
“You weren’t there!” Draco started to sob. “You weren’t the one she almost forced to make an unbreakable vow, just because I hesitated for one second!
“What was I supposed to do?”
She put her weight into the punch.
She watched the hooded figure from behind the tree, only moving when the squawking of the birds was loud enough to fill the forest.
Once they were out of her sight, she scurried on to the site, searching for clues on how long it had been inhabited. Her frustration grew as she realised she would have to go into the tent.
Right after she decided to go ahead, sharp talons clutched her shoulder, prompting her to jump.
Dear Miss Granger,
Apologies for using this method of communication, as all of our letters to your address have returned to us.
As we prepare to launch your latest book, the orders and demands are fast exceeding that of Gilderoy Lockhart’s (right before that unfortunate injury).
We urge you to reconsider attending at least one signing and photo session. It would greatly boost the sales and publicity for it — not that you need it — and give your fans a chance to meet you in person.
Angry at the disruption, she burned the parchment with a wandless spell. Before she could wave off the persistent owl, it fell to the ground with a thunk. A burly figure crashed into her, pushing her to join the dead animal.
“Looking for something, mudblood?” Greyback rasped, his hands all over her.
She cried out when the werewolf pressed on a wound that hadn’t healed completely. She had run out of the special ointment that speeds up the process, but was still too embarrassed to ask Andromeda for it. She hadn’t been sure if the healer wanted to see her after their last exchange.
“I was always relieved that you got over my similarities with Bellatrix so quickly, Hermione. But whatever else you keep searching for in me, it isn’t there.”
She had placed Teddy back in his chair and left their house without saying a word.
“Not as young or unblemished as I remember, but you’ll do,” Greyback continued, flinging her wand out of her reach. “It isn’t often that the one that got away gets lured back in so easily.”
She fought back then, channelling the fury she felt at herself — and the disappointment that it was yet another dead end.
And Greyback just laughed. “You think you were being secretive about it, girl? Everyone knows. Maybe we had killed her, hmm? Maybe I’ll owl you her bones, piece by piece, instead of anonymous notes this time?”
“Fuck. You." She spat on his face.
“Oh you most certainly will,” he taunted, grabbing her by her collar. “No Hogwarts, no Potter, and no Malfoy to save you this time.
“Who’s going to come for you now?”
Saliva dripped onto her face and she shut her eyes.
At least she would know for certain if the older witch was there.
She opened them to see Greyback’s teeth flying out of his mouth from the impact. Red flashed before her face — first from blood, then from a head of hair.
"This is for Remus,” Ron said, his fist meeting Greyback’s face at every syllable. “This is for Bill. This is for — maybe I’ll let the lady do the honours.”
She took his hand and got to her feet. The werewolf was nearly unconscious, his face a mess of raw flesh, but no more disgusting than when she first met him all those years ago.
She stepped away and whirled back with a kick.
The crack resounded through the woods.
“This is for Lavender,” she said, walking off.
It was all a lie; she didn’t know why she had even bothered to hold out hope. Leaving the aurors to collect what she had found when tearing apart the tent, she trudged to the nearest stream to quench her thirst.
Resisted the urge to submerge her face in the water.
Collapsed on her back instead.
“Are you alright? Did he hurt you?”
She shook her head, covering her eyes with her arm.
“Why are you here?” she asked tiredly.
“To help you in your quest,” Ron said, patting his knapsack. “Lav and the kids are with mum and they’re all having the time of their lives.”
“You don’t even know what my search is for.”
“Don’t care," he said, shrugging. “I abandoned you once; not doing it again.”
She sighed. “Ron…”
"No, Hermione,” he said, surprising her with the conviction in his voice. “I never meant for you to go through this by yourself. George needed me, then Lavender, then the kids…
“I’m sorry I wasn’t there for you, and I’m here now. I don’t fully understand why you’re doing this, but I don’t need to to support you.”
“You’re in charge of cooking this time.”
“Good, the training during my bachelor days with George will come in handy. Oh, Harry’s coming too.”
“RON! Ginny’s seven months pregnant!”
“More the reason you can’t yell at her for agreeing to this, then.” Ron said, pulling her up.
They all agreed that their second stint in the forest was a lot less stressful, having the privilege of being on the hunt rather than the hunted.
It felt the same, but different. The slight change in Harry’s posture, the way his shoulders lifted, showed he only carried his son, and no longer the weight of the world, on them. He also stopped ruffling his hair, and displayed mannerisms that were definitely more Harry than James.
And after that phase of trying to be his late brother, Ron has recovered his wit — his and not Fred’s. She was pleasantly surprised when he used it on himself, and how he seemed a lot more relaxed when she and Harry had laughed at his mistakes.
Where had she been? She was present in all of the weddings, birthdays, celebrations; had seen them regularly at the Ministry; discussed plans and gifts; and yet she had missed all of this.
The men, however, did not seem to share her revelations. They hardly batted an eye whenever she reached for her flask, said nothing when she wandered off for long periods without a word, and never held her back when she rushed into the situation before anyone, including herself, was ready.
They only followed.
“Well, that’s the last of them,” Harry said, waving for the aurors to haul off Dolohov. While he and Ron usually stood aside when she was a bit more brutal than they needed to be, they joined her this time, each relishing the chance to settle their personal grievances.
It was dark by the time they woke up from their nap.
“So, where’s next, cap’n?” Ron poked at the fire while Harry poured out the celebratory drinks.
“Back home for you is next — I can’t believe Lavender and Ginny actually put up with this.”
“Oi, you say it like they don’t love you too,” Ron argued. “Every letter it’s how’s Hermione, is she eating enough, is she still having nightmares, has she stopped sipping from that bloody fla —”
Harry cleared his throat and nudged her, “Speaking of which, share the good stuff with us, will you?
“And as the brightest witch of her age, you should know by now that the answer to that is always no.”
“Yes,” Ron agreed hurriedly, “so what’s next? More field research on magical portraits? I hear Egypt has some new information.”
“Boys. Go home.”
“Well here’s an idea,” Harry replied quietly. “Why don’t you come with us?”
She looked away. “You know I can’t.”
“Hermione...do you even know what you’re looking for?”
“Of course I do — would have been a tad foolish to be out here risking my life if I didn’t, wouldn’t it?”
“Tell us, then,” Ron encouraged her softly, gently.
How did she even begin? How could she verbalise what she felt if she hadn’t even allowed that for herself?
She started with what had happened instead.
Leaving out parts that she still felt belonged only to her.
“All because I got distracted by the Veelas at the World Cup?” Ron said, pained.
“Hey, if you want to put it that way, she saved us because of that,” Harry said consolingly. “And the last time you met was when she handed you Lestrange’s hair…”
“She told me not to look back,” she muttered, reliving that moment, that push, as if it had just happened. “Since then, even stopping to breathe feels like a betrayal to her.”
“So is living like this,” Harry retorted.
"I beg your pardon? ”
“Hermione, she wouldn’t have wanted this for you.”
"Don’t tell me what she wants.”
“But I can tell you what Sirius would have wanted for me,” Harry persisted.
“And Fred for me.” Ron added. “And what Dumbledore, Remus, Tonks would have wanted for all of us.”
Why were they doing this?
“I have something to tell you — both of you, too,” Harry confessed. “I wasn’t ready to share it then, and then the time had passed.
“At King’s Cross, when I was with Professor Dumbledore...he gave me a choice. I could board a train — move on , or I could turn back — to the forest.”
“But you came back because of Voldemort,” she said.
Harry shook his head. “I came back because those who loved me were still here. That was enough reason — whether it was to fight with, protect, or just to be with you, it didn’t matter.
“Hermione, I’m not asking you to stop. Just come back to us sometimes, won’t you?”
“Let’s go home.”
She points to it.
“Why does it say ‘dead’?”
“Well,” Hermione says, “the memorial is about to close, so I’ll have to tell you the story another day. But in short, she lied.”
“...to all of us.”
The girl nods, trying to understand what Hermione had said.
“Did you know each other?”
Did they? Does the Narcissa in this portrait, unrelentingly silent despite Hermione’s initial taunts, threats, and pleas to say something, anything, know her? And even if she did, would she recognise the Hermione Granger now, who’s probably as much of a stranger to the portrait, as it is to her?
“In another life.”
A tap on the window jolts her from her memories.
She smiles, marvelling at how the wizarding world seems to just know whenever she returns — maybe they really had cast a protean charm on ‘her’ bench in the memorial. She takes the letters and hands a few treats to the owl.
One from Molly, inviting her for tea and booking her for the rest of the week. One from Draco, doing the same, only with the addition of thinly veiled threats on how she had better bring gifts for Scorpius. One from Professor McGonagall, confirming the name for the new star Hermione had discovered.
She would have appreciated it — as would Mr Malfoy, Hermione.
One from Hagrid, telling her The White Wyvern was kept the way she wanted — empty and untouched. One from Egypt, saying they were closed for the foreseeable future due to a natural disaster, but looked forward to hosting the Golden Trio when they reopened.
She had saved the sixth for last.
Dear Miss Granger,
We regret to inform you that we are halting our search for the Mirror of Erised.
After multiple discussions, the committee deems it unethical that we continue to use your resources — as generous as they are — on a mission that seems fruitless.
We thank you for all the assistance you have lent us, and hope for your continued support.
The committee of Ancient Magical Objects
She lets the letters slip to the floor, and stares into the vast hall.
The portraits in the main hall are unusually quiet tonight. Even Professor Dumbledore, who occasionally drops a kind word to her, is fast asleep.
Everything comes to a stop. She holds her breath, trying to hear something other than her increasingly loud heartbeat.
At the verge of a panic attack, she gets up and treads toward the portrait, focusing on putting one foot in front of the other.
Fearing that it’s once again the effects of intoxication, she waits for it to wear off before looking up. Fixes her gaze at the portrait beneath the very stars that once sheltered them, at the face that each day replaces a little more of what she remembers, and at the lips that had uttered her name the way nobody else does.
Her face crumples and she closes her eyes, once again feeling herself tip-toeing on the fine line between relief and disappointment, hope and bitterness.
Hermione Granger has run out of places to go.
And this time, no Death Eaters that have escaped; no curse she’s broken; no wizard or witch she knows could help her.
She can’t find Narcissa Malfoy in the realm of the living, the spirits, or magical artefacts.
For the first time, she is lost.
And so she does the only thing she can.
An insistent tapping on the window — probably an owl from the young girl — prompts her to glance at it.
And there she is — reflected on the glass, arms crossed and leaning back against the mahogany wall, looking nothing like there’s a nasty smell under her nose. The soft lights add to the golden shine on her hair; her robes a little tattered; but her features remain sharp and regal.
The flask slips from Hermione’s hand. Startled by the noise resounding across the hall, she looks down at the spillage.
“I have come to collect.”
Ignoring that voice coming from behind her, Hermione keeps her eyes on the alcohol that’s slowly pooling around her shoes. Her walking staff skids a little in the puddle, worsened by her inability to stop shaking.
For the first time, the hardwood floor of the Wizarding War Memorial is splattered with the tears of war heroine Hermione Granger, whose emotions burst from her, flowing as freely as it did a lifetime ago.
And on this night, the main hall is filled with the quiet sobs of the witch. She cries for the seventeen year old who decided to follow an older witch one rainy afternoon, unaware that she would end up chasing after her for life, forever trailing behind.
For the nineteen year old who naively declared she could pay the price of acts she committed, not realising what had cost her initially was only a fraction of it.
For the witch who had fallen for the idealistic talk spewed by a child who didn’t know any better; didn't know that the older witch would believe in them, so much, that she would find a way to both keep and break her promise to her.
Who didn’t know that Narcissa Malfoy, like she, was stubborn till the very end.
“Where the hell have you been?”