AN: Warning you now, this chapter was extremely hard to write, and made me cry when I proof read it for errors. If there are mistakes, it’s because I was upset and missed them. It is the longest chapter by word count of the story right now, to make up for the last chapter. Thank you to all the readers who have reviewed, it means so much to me. The story isn’t over yet, but it’s almost there. Many want a sequel, so I am thinking of writing it, but after my next story which is going to be different than this one. Stay tuned for info. Clumsy!
Hermione sighed in relief. She had just received the final confirmation from the Slytherin team, thankfully the Gryffindor’s had all confirmed straight away. So she got up from her breakfast and walked to the front to speak to the Headmistress, and when she nodded Hermione called for attention.
“I have an announcement to make. I have the final roster for the 1st annual Gryffindor vs. Slytherin cancer research fundraiser game! For Slytherin we have Chasers-Adrian Pucey, Graham Montague, and Marcus Flint. Beaters-Gregory Goyle and Lucian Bole. Keeper-Miles Bletchley. And seeker- Draco Malfoy.” Slytherin house was in such a raucous round of applause that it took a few minutes to calm them down so she could announce Gryffindor’s team. “And now for Gryffindor,” applause from that table, “Chasers-Ginny Weasley, Angelina Johnson, and Demelza Robins. Beaters-George Weasley and Jimmy Peakes. Keeper-Oliver Wood. Seeker-Harry Potter.” The whole of Gryffindor house could be heard in Hogsmeade Hermione was sure, it was so loud! “I’m not finished!” she waited for them to cool it, “Now as for captains of those teams, they will be chosen during the first practice by each team. Also, as nobody from Hufflepuff or Ravenclaw was interested in the cheerleading idea, we’ve come up with an alternative. Commentating will be Zacharias Smith of Hufflepuff and Coach for both teams to act only in an advisory position should one be needed is Ravenclaw alumni Roger Davies” she added. “Also, the teams will be free to choose their own reserve players in the event of injury, which let’s face it, is a very likely possibility, and the reserve players can be chosen from the teams’ own house or from Hufflepuff and Ravenclaw.” She finished.
Now that she had that taken care of really all she had to do was arrange the first practice session for each team, coordinating schedules, after that the team would set their own practices. Then she had the administrative side of the event and a Banquet afterwards. She had already made sub committees for each though; Luna, Cho Chang, and Milicent Bulstrode were going to work on advertising and pricing for tickets, dates and times, etc. Lavender Brown, Parvati and Padma Patil, and Katie Bell were going to plan the Banquet for that night. So she only had to oversee all three areas thereby making her job much easier. Since Madame Hooch was no longer here she had an idea for a completely unbiased referee and she had sent him a letter with her request and was waiting for an answer. She would announce that later when she knew if he could make it.
She was in Charms which is the last class of the day, and she and Draco were talking with Harry and having a fun time jinxing Blaise up at the front table. He was getting redder in the face as he couldn’t tell who kept making steam blow out his ears (Harry and Hermione), or making him quack like a duck every time he opened his mouth(Draco). He couldn’t go by laughter because everyone was laughing including the Professor. He also couldn’t go by a guilty looking face, because they were completely innocent looking.
“Quack Draco Malfoy quack, I know you’re doing it, quack!” he accused.
“It’s not me mate, I can’t tell who’s doing it.” He lied.
There was a knock at the door. McGonagall came in wearing a worried expression on her face and pulled Hermione and Draco out of class.
“It’s Michael, he’s in very rough shape.” She explained as they hurried through the halls. They said nothing more as they walked to the Hospital Wing.
When they entered Hermione had to hold back sobs, Michael was gray skinned, beyond pale. He was so lifeless and lethargic that at first she thought he’d already passed. She ran across the room to him and grabbed ahold of his hand; it was so cold it felt like ice. She asked Draco to procure some hot water bottles for Michael to rest his hands on if Madame Pomfrey had no objections. He walked back down the room to speak with the witch and get the things to warm his icy hands.
“Hermione, it’s time. I wanted my parents, and you and Draco to stay with me until it’s over, if you don’t mind.” Michael’s voice was barely a whisper, he had grown very weak.
“Of course, I’m not leaving. Your parents are on the way. We’ll stay with you until it’s over, you won’t be alone, I promise.” Hermione cried. She rubbed his hands trying to warm them, and when Draco returned they set his both of his hands on them.
“That feels so good, thank you.” Michael croaked.
“Michael, my friend, is there anything you want or need, let me know and it’s yours?” Draco asked.
“Just company for now.”
His parents arrived a few minutes later, and Draco and Hermione stepped out to give them privacy and because Hermione needed a place to break down for a few minutes. Draco held her while she cried, a few of his own tears had escaped his eyes.
“It’s not fair, it’s so unfair Draco! He’s 18 years old! He hasn’t finished school, gotten married, had a career and kids. It isn’t fair! I can’t do this, I can’t do this. I can’t watch one more person die, I can’t! That was supposed to be OVER! We fought so it would be done! Now that asshole is dead, and I’m still saying goodbye to a friend who’s dying way before his time. No I won’t do it.” She was hyperventilating. Draco was getting very concerned for her, her eyes were vacant like she’d checked out of her own brain for a while.
Ginny came running up to see what was going on, and Draco was relieved thinking maybe she could get through better than he had. But after taking one look at Hermione, Ginny turned her feet back the way she came without saying anything and ran away!!
When Ginny returned Hermione was sitting with her back against the wall, knees pulled up to her chest, rocking back and forth, and Draco looked terrified for her. He almost was yelling at Ginny.
“Where did you take off to, what kind of a friend takes off and runs away from a friend in Hermione’s condition? Tell me that, I thought Gryffindor’s didn’t run away!” he demanded.
“The kind of friend that goes to get the help that is really needed!” she yelled in his face! “I left to go get a message to Harry and Ron, because that’s what she needs Malfoy. I don’t understand what is happening here, or why she’s in this condition again, but I’ve seen it before, and the only two people on the planet that can get to her at the moment are on their way here. I swear to you now, I’m forgiving it this ONE time, but if your ever a screaming prick to me again, you’ll be wearing your second bat bogey, and I won’t even blink” she ranted at him.
“What’s going on is that Michael is dying. He asked for the two of us, and his parents. We promised to stay with him, but she needed to step away so we came out here and she went mental. I don’t know how to help her Ginny,” he was freaking out.
For that reason she walked up and hugged him. He stiffened up and she said, “It’s called comfort Draco, something Slytherin’s aren’t known for, but you need it, and I’m the only one available, so deal with it.”
He relaxed and hugged her back, and fought back his tears.
“Thank you Ginny. I’m sorry I yelled at you, you didn’t deserve it. And just for the record, that bat bogey hex of yours is horrendous!” he said.
She smiled at him. “I wish I had a witness, Draco Malfoy apologizing and complimenting me in the same sentence.”
From behind her, “I saw it, I can attest to every word.” Harry walked up.
“What the hell is wrong with Hermione?” Ron demanded as he and Harry looked down at her.
Ginny explained because Draco honestly didn’t think he could say the words again, he was sad about Michael and scared for Hermione. When she was done explaining Ron and Harry took Draco aside.
“She is fragile about death sometimes. We can help her but it may take a while, you can do more good with Michael than Hermione right now. No offense but she can talk more freely if it’s just the three of us, because it was the three of us, if that makes any kind of sense. If it doesn’t, I don’t have time to explain, maybe Gin can.” Harry stated, and then he and Ron each put one of Hermione’s arms around their necks and walked away with her. Leaving Draco behind, he just punched the wall and walked through the hospital doors.
Down by the lake outside the three friends sat underneath the Beech tree they always sat under during their school years when they wanted to be in the fresh air. It was a lovely day and the three of them just sat there talking about nothing important, just like it was a normal day. After about half an hour she sighed.
“Sorry you guys. I just sort of went nuts back there. It feels so wrong to face losing a friend again, and I’m not sure I can do this, I don’t know how to go back in there and not lose it.” She cried. She laid her head down on Ron’s shoulder and was holding Harry’s hand. “Why did we fight so hard to end Voldemort, if we still lose friends to an enemy we can’t fight?”
“Honey listen, this isn’t the same thing. I know it doesn’t make sense, and I’m not sure it ever will but you have to keep fighting otherwise we’ll never win. You do that by going back in there and holding his hand, and when he’s gone you fight by doing what you can. That, in your case, is the fundraiser.” Harry told her.
“Maybe with your brains Hermione, you’ll be the teacher of the genius who finally finds a cure.” Ron added.
“The point is, like Dumbledore told me in first year, you keep fighting. When you can’t fight anymore, you dig deep and find the fight in you to continue and never quit. You’re a Gryffindor Hermione, the fight will never leave you, so find it for your friend.” Harry finished. He felt bad for her, and wished he had a more concrete way to help her, but this was the best he could do.
Headmistress McGonagall walked up to the trio and cleared her throat. They all stood up and turned to talk with her.
“Mr. Potter, Mr. Weasley, thank you for coming for Hermione. She’s going to need you for a time in the next few days. I just flooed Minister Shacklebolt, he is clearing your schedules to stay for as long as your needed here, then he is coming as well. Hermione, believe me when I say I understand what your feeling. However there is a very sick young man who is dying up there and needs his friends to be strong and be there.” She said compassionately.
“He had a written list of friends he wanted to personally say goodbye to in case this happened. I will ask you boys to go round them up, you know all of them, and they are at dinner now. Tell them to come as soon as they are done eating, without delay.” She waited until they were gone before turning back to Hermione.
“Now Miss Granger, I wish I could afford to sit and hold your hand and coddle you. But this is real life and we don’t have the luxury of time. You need to pull yourself together, haul your butt back up there and be with your friend as he passes on. After that I can grant you the time to recover, but until then let’s get back up there where we can do some good.” She said sternly, and yet there was understanding, it allowed Hermione to clear her head.
“Sorry, your right. I’m on my way.” She told her mentor.
“Good, and may I suggest you comfort Mr. Malfoy, he’s very upset that you’re not going to be ok.” She smiled at Hermione. Hermione nodded and walked away.
She came through the doors and walked over and hugged Draco whose arms wound around her waist. She whispered, “I’m sorry. I love you so much, and thank you for trying to help me.”
“I love you too and your welcome, I just wish I was able to help.” He confessed.
“We’ll talk later, for now, he needs us both.” She added and then walked towards Michael and his family.
“Michael sorry I was gone so long. Harry and Ron are here, and they are gathering your friends you named on your list, they are coming to spend some time with you. There are a limited number of people allowed in and obviously your family shouldn’t have to leave unless you want privacy, so Draco and I will be right outside the doors whenever we have to step away but we’ll be right back.” She told him and smiled while mentally telling herself that she could and must keep it together.
He smiled and whispered his thanks. In the time she was gone he had deteriorated, and she’d only been gone an hour. His voice was almost nonexistent, barely more than a whisper and her eyes were filling with tears she fought back.
Three hours later, he had said his goodbye’s to almost everyone and it was only his family, Hermione, Draco, Gin, Ron, and Harry left in the corridor outside the hospital giving him his privacy to say what he needed to with each person. When his friend came out and nodded to them, it was Ginny’s turn.
Gin walked over to his bed and reached for his hand. He smiled up at her in a tired, but peaceful way.
“Gin, I love you. You were my first love, and even though I knew all along about your thing for Potter, I still loved you. You’re an amazing person Ginevra Weasley, I hope you realize that. Don’t let him forget it for a minute, promise!” he told her.
She couldn’t stop the tears running off her cheeks. “I love you too Michael. You were the best 1st boyfriend a girl could have. I was so lucky. I’m going to miss you every day. I will also promise you that I’m gonna win the big game for you!” That made him laugh leaving him breathless. She spent a few minutes just holding his hand before her time was up.
Harry and Ron came in together. “The golden boys” Michael said with a smile. “I wanted to ask both of you a favor.” They nodded in unison.
“Please, I know you’ll be there for Hermione and Ginny without question. They are going to need you when I’m gone, especially Hermione. But there is someone else who needs you, Draco. He’s lost so much, most of his friends want nothing to do with him since the war and Hermione, a few stayed but not many. He needs friends, and you’re good ones to have.” Michael asked.
They promised him to look out for the three and help them, then they spent the time laughing and reminiscing about the DA and the fun they had. Then it was time for Draco, so they left to get him.
Draco steeled himself, and walked through the doors. His friend looked worse, he was tired.
“Dude, I won’t lie to you, you’ve looked better.” Draco said with his smirk firmly in place.
Michael smiled at that, “You’re just jealous that I’m bald and skinny and still more handsome than you!” He teased back making Draco laugh. That’s how they spent their time together, joking with each other. It only got serious for a few minutes when he handed Draco a piece of paper and asked him not to open or read it until the final week of class, and read it to each Diversity class and also to tell him to take care of ‘Mione, which Draco promised on both counts. After that Michael had fallen asleep and the others came back in and waited with him.
An hour later he woke up and told the room it was almost time, there was a larger group coming to retrieve him. Fred was there, and that was comforting, he didn’t mind going away with them now. Most of the people in the room were choking back tears this time. Michael asked to speak to Hermione alone.
“My friend, I don’t want to say goodbye to you, I don’t know how to.” Hermione cried. He reached up and wiped her tears free of her face.
“Hermione you have been such a good person in my life. I am very glad we became friends when Ginny and I were going out. I’m not sure what would have happened if I’d gone through this without you, it would have been so much harder. I don’t want to say goodbye either, so I won’t. For you, I will say see you later, because I will. The ones from the other side asked me to share a message for you and I promised I would. They said to stop feeling so sad about them being gone, because they aren’t gone, their still here with you. Fred and Sirius, Lupin and Tonks, and Colin. Your grandparents were even there, and they all said they love you. We’re all going to be watching over you as you graduate, and get married, have children. We’ll be there every step of the way. When you feel a cool breeze on your face, or see a dragonfly hovering, that will be me saying hello, and I love you, okay.” He said, and by then they were both in tears.
“Michael, you mean so much to me. I can’t even tell you how sorry I am that you have to endure this, and say goodbye so early. I will do everything in my power to help stop this disease that is taking you away, so more people don’t have to say goodbye to the people they love. For now though, I will do the only thing I know how to do and that’s hold your hand as you start your journey and leave us. Take my love and friendship with you to strengthen your journey, because it’s yours. I love you so much and I thank you for your friendship.” She struggled to get the words out.
She squeezed his hand and walked out to give his family their turn, and she just walked straight into Draco’s waiting arms and they held each other. She asked him to hold her hand as she held Michaels.
Several hours later they were all gathered around his bedside, he was asleep for a while then would wake for a few minutes. This had been going on for the last three hours, and the time he was conscious was growing shorter and shorter. They knew it was coming soon and they stayed for him. The next time he woke, it was with the brightest smile they had seen from him, he squeezed his mom and Hermione’s hands, let out a soft sigh, and slipped away quietly with the smile still in place. The room was silent for a moment, and then the sounds of grief began and Hermione fell into Draco in tears.
“See you later Michael,” she said.
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