A/N: I just want to take a second and thank everyone for the kind reviews that you have sent my way, even those about wanting to hate me properly! As weird as it is, I'm glad... because it means that you have an emotional attachment to this story. And that's important. Your reviews mean so much to me!
Everyone turned and looked to see Minerva McGonagall stand up where she was sitting. She walked carefully up to the front of the church where she stood in front of everyone.
“For those of you who don’t know me, my name is Minerva McGonagall, former Headmistress of and Transfiguration teacher at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry.” There was a pause as she allowed her eyes to scan across the different people who were seated throughout the church.
“The moment that Draco Malfoy first set foot at Hogwarts, I could see his parents all over again, as well as grandparents, aunts, uncles, you name it. And for his first few years, that was the way that it happened. Then all of the sudden, something changed. I was never so surprised one night when, after hours, he came to seek me out, telling me how urgent it was that he speak to me. At first, I thought it be odd, after all, I was one of his Professors, of course, and for that he showed respect, but there were certain things that we had never quite seen eye to eye on. There was just something however about that evening that I knew it was imperative that I listen to what he have to say, and I was very glad that I did.”
“Mr. Malfoy? What in Merlin’s name are you doing here at this time of night?”
“Professor, I need a favour. I hate to bother you like this, but I think that you’re the only one who can help me right now.”
Professor McGonagall was startled, after all, she had had very few positive run-ins with Draco Malfoy over the past few years, but there was something about the urgency in his voice that made her realize she wanted to listen to what it was that he had to say.
“Very well, Mr. Malfoy. Come in,” she said, closing the door.
He stood at the entrance to her chambers, unsure of exactly how to begin with what he was sure was going to be a very awkward conversation.
“Well, Mr Malfoy, do sit down and tell me what the meaning of getting me out of bed at this time of night is all about.”
“This is a very… strange request, I’m sure, Professor.”
Professor McGonagall merely lifted an eyebrow as she waited for him to continue. While she that it was part of her job description to be there for the students, there were sometimes, like these, that she wished it wasn’t. She also wished that it wouldn’t be extremely un-professor-like to ask him to get on with it.
“Professor, before I ask you for the favour, I think that there is something that you should know.”
He nodded. “Hermione Granger is… well, she and I… oh, bloody hell, Professor. Sorry,” he said, realizing that who he was talking to. “She’s pregnant, and it’s all my fault.”
“Could you, repeat that, Mr Malfoy?”
“Hermione Granger, she’s pregnant. It’s my fault, please don’t blame her. She’s… she’s had enough to go through. If you’re going to suspend or expel or anything to anybody because of it, it needs to be me.”
“I’m slightly confused, Mr Malfoy. You told me that you needed a favour, and yet so far all that you’ve done is told me about the consequences of… unacceptable actions by students, on school premises.”
He sighed. “But that’s where the favour comes in. You see, I want to make it right for her. I don’t want to be like that Weas-,” he stopped himself before he said too much. “Professor, I’m asking for your permission to leave the school for a few days, to take care of some business to have a place for her to go. Because, Professor, I want to… I want to ask her to marry me.”
*End of Flashback*
“I knew at that moment that a transformation had been made in front of my eyes. I’ll be honest, I couldn’t believe that it was the same person standing in front of me, confessing all of this that had been the same youngster all those years before who had stood before me.”
“Excuse me, Professor, but perhaps I misunderstood you. I thought you just said the four of us.”
“You heard correctly, Mr Malfoy. Despite your good… intentions, there are still no excuses for you to be out of your dormitory, wandering the halls after hours.”
*End of Flashback*
“It was then that I knew, anything was possible. That there are things out there that are beyond our control, but that doesn’t mean that everything is black and white. What I want to leave you with here today is just to remember this. Always give a person the benefit of the doubt, because you never know what actions or events will change them.”
With that, she walked back to her seat.
Once again, the wizard made his way back up to the podium and opened his mouth to speak, when once again there, there was a bit of scuffling around as someone else stood up.
Everyone turned their heads in the direction of the noise, and it was hard to realize who was the most surprised when they realized who it was.
Gregory Goyle stood up nervously, and adjusted his collar as though he was too tight. He shuffled his feet, keeping his eyes on the ground.
“I almost didn’t come today,” he said. “To be fairly honest, I figured I probably couldn’t even get in, that there would be a hex set up at the door to keep me out. But I wanted to be here because Draco was my best friend. At least at one time.”
Harry was surprised at the sound of sentiment that seemed to come from him. He had to think about it for a minute, but was pretty sure that he had never actually heard Goyle speak, at least like a regular person.
Hmm, he thought to himself, maybe Draco wasn’t the only person who changed for the better.
“Our friendship didn’t start off in the most conventional of ways. After all, it was our fathers who had been friends, and their fathers before them, and so we were sort of expected to be friends. Not that I ever regretted being his friend. Some people often thought that the only reason Draco kept Vince and me around was because we were bigger than he was and that if anybody tried anything, we’d step in for him. Which was partly true, I guess. But regardless, he was the one person who actually treated us like we were people.”
Harry thought back to second year when he and Ron had impersonated them with poly juice potion. There were moments when Draco seemed to think that they were less than he was, but there were a few moments that he did seem to really care about them.
His mind was also drifted to that unfortunate moment in the Room of Requirement, a memory that he always tried to rid himself of, but no matter how hard he tried, it kept coming back. That moment when Vincent Crabbe’s fiendfyre had gotten out of control, almost killing all of them, and ultimately taking Crabbe’s life. He remembered the look of horror on Draco’s face, when he asked about Crabbe. When Ron had told him, rather unemotionally, Harry remembered, it was the second time he’d ever seen Draco cry - the first time being in the boy’s bathroom that time in sixth year.
Goyle’s voice brought him back to the present.
“When Draco talked about coming back here to re-do his seventh year, I thought he’d gone mental. Why? What good was it going to do? I asked him, knowing that no one would ever take any of us seriously ever again. But he was determined. Something about how he was different than his father and wanted to make sure that people knew it.”
He paused a moment to take a handkerchief out of his pocket and he blew his nose.
“I’m ashamed to admit that after our conversation about that was the last time that I had ever seen him. That pretty much summed up our parting of ways, when he decided to go back and I set out to make my way in the real world, so to speak, the best way that I knew how.”
He walked back to the back of the church, where he’d been sitting before, stumbling a few times along the way.
The Wizard approached the front once again, this time waiting to see if anyone else was going to say anything before he started talking once again.
“If there is no one else who wishes to come forward, then this part of our service is concluded and we will begin heading outside for the burial.”
Harry was aware that there was movement all around him as the others who had been in the church started making their way outside, but he was concentrating on Hermione. She sat there, her head buried in her hands as everyone around them started drifting away.
“Hermione?” he said gently. “We need to go outside.”
She just shook her head.
“I can’t,” she whispered. “I just can’t.”
“Why not?” he asked gently.
“”Because, if I go out there, it’s like saying he’s really and truly dead. I just can’t… I can’t face it, Harry.”
Ginny looked at the two of them as she stood up, waiting to walk with the two of them. Seeing the look on Hermione’s face, she sat right back down.
“We’ll be with you, Hermione. We’ll always be here for you.”
Moving her hands away from her face, Hermione forced a small smile on her face as she looked at the two of them.
She nodded slowly. “You’re right. I have to do it. If not for me, then for Scorpius.”
Ginny gave her a look, telling her that she knew. Even though Hermione had yet to say anything about the forthcoming baby, she knew. In fact, she knew the first time, and she knew this time. Then the thought that she’d never get a chance to know again made Hermione start crying again.
She took a deep breath and stood up. “I’m ready,” she said.
And the three of them headed out the side door into the church cemetery.
A/N: Funerals are a very hard subject for me. I want to make it realistic as well as emotional. I'm also currently dealing with this issue in my real life, so that may have an impact on it.
You may ask why Hermione is suddenly so emotional and distraught after always being so strong. One, this is a very emotional thing to be going through. Two, she's pregnant, so her emotions are definitely going to be hitting her harder.
Were you surprised that Goyle showed up? I toyed with that idea for a bit, but decided to leave it in.