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Epilogue - Ascension

They lost Ron and Harry in the final battle. Draco stood beside them as they fell, Hermione at his side, both of them unable to do anything to prevent her dearest friends from being torn from the world. Harry died with Voldemort, hit with the killing curse just as the Dark Lord fell by Harry’s wand. Harry was peaceful in death, his emerald eyes wide and staring, and his face blissful. He had made his choice. His calm acceptance at the end of his time was empowering, infusing those around him with the courage to continue the fight. He had done what he set out to do, all those years ago, and Draco felt a grudging respect flow through his body as he witnessed Harry die. Ron went down not long after Harry. The redhead was incensed with rage, spells firing from his wand, blinded by his tears until he collapsed at Hermione’s feet, his face torn and bloody, her name on his lips.

At the end of it all, there were fewer than twenty people remaining alive, shades of their former selves, walking through the never-ending stench of the battle field with haunted eyes, grieving for the ones they had lost, their pain an echo of the ghastly sight lying before their war ravaged faces. Death had fed well that day, his appetite sated, his belly full.

Unable to bear the sight of an empty house once filled with joy, laughter and pleasure, Hermione left Grimmauld Place, buying a small cottage by the sea with the money Harry bequeathed to her and Ginny. Draco went with her, having nowhere else to go and not wishing to leave her side. Although they had never said it to each other, they knew they were dependant on one another now. Secretly, Draco hoped that dependence would slowly fade, and Hermione would see him as more than a link to her past and her dead friends. He hoped she would one day love him back, giving him her emotional self as surely as she gave him her body.

The one-year anniversary of Harry and Ron’s deaths loomed over their heads, and Draco found Hermione sitting outside on the verandah, wrapped in a blanket to keep out the nights chill. Without saying a word, he sat beside her, taking her hand and squeezing it reassuringly. Her eyes were fixed on the stars glinting above them, and he knew her thoughts were with her friends, as they always were. They sat in silence, the still night punctuated by the occasional cry of an owl, and the waves breaking on the shore in the distance.

She turned to him, her eyes sad and heavy with loss. He was reminded forcefully of a poem he had read while under her guard, about a woman suffering from loss and regret, and a fragment of those words he had absorbed so long ago floated through his mind –

Once she was beautiful.
Once we were warriors,
Scared of our sin.
Once we were monsters,
Scared to begin.

The war had changed them all, those that lingered, the ones left behind to suffer through life. The remaining members of the Order had scattered after the war, not wanting to relive their memories in the company of those who shared them, only meeting a couple of times over the past year. Each time was a terrible experience for Hermione, seeing how traumatized and lost her old friends were, and she and Draco would return to their little home by the sea feeling like strangers, until the memories faded a little and they were able to take solace in each other once again. He looked at her regretfully, at her tired face and drooping shoulders. There was nothing he could do to ease the pain of her loss.

“Take me to the ocean,” she whispered, and Draco nodded, standing, pulling her to her feet gently. He tugged the blanket more securely around her frail body, ignoring the ice creeping into his own skin. Hand in hand, they walked the short distance to the beach, their path lit by the moon, their feet sinking in the soft silvery sand. They stood, linked together by the past, the present and future, at the edge of the world, letting the calm stillness of the night infuse their souls. Moonlight bounced off the waves, and Hermione sighed, gazing out at the dark water longingly, her face etched with sadness.

“It’s too cold to swim,” Draco said softly, knowing where her thoughts lay. She nodded and smiled at him, a ghost of happier times flitting across her face. Her eyes reflected the stars, tiny pinpricks of light dancing over the chocolate brown surface. When the weather was warm, they would come down to the beach and swim together under the moonlight, her face transformed with the simple pleasure of being alive.

“Do you believe in heaven?” she asked him quietly, and he shook his head. They had had this conversation before, on nights like this, when depression scratched its claws deep into her soul. She already knew the answer.

“Not really,” he replied simply, puling her closer and sliding his arm around her back. She sighed repentantly, her head falling against his chest.

“Pity. I thought I may see you there some day.”

“Maybe you will. I think you still have time to change my mind,” Draco said, tickling her ribs, enjoying the sound of her soft laughter. She turned her body into his and slid her arms around his neck, her fingers finding their way into his hair. Draco felt his eyes close as she caressed the back of his neck, loving her touch more than life itself. She pressed a gentle kiss on his lips and he shivered, kissing her back tenderly, pulling her body flush against his.

The sound of the waves crashing on the shore in a constant rhythm of power and beauty lulled the pain in their hearts like a song sung to frightened children, and Draco felt a sense of peace settle over his body. She pulled her face away slightly, looking deep into his eyes, and he smiled at her, brushing a strand of silken hair from her cheek, his fingers lingering on her soft skin.

“Draco,” she said, her eyes shining in the darkness, his name soft and beautiful on her lips.

“Hmmm,” he replied, his hand reaching up to massage the back of her neck. The cool ocean breeze rushed around their bodies, the sea waiting patiently in the background, waiting to engulf the sadness that drowned her. She shivered, and he instantly pulled her into him again, resting his chin against her head.

“I love you,” she whispered, so soft he barely heard it over the waves and the darkness around them.


A/N: Hey guys! Hoped you liked it. I know that chapter was short, but its like an afterword. Please leave a review in that little box down there. Thank you to all those people who reviewed this story. The little snatch of the poem Draco remembered is one of my own, called War Games. Thanks for reading!


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