May this be the last Harry Potter piece I ever write!
Hermione exited the balcony and made her way downstairs, toward the ballroom, where Harry waited for her. He watched across the empty dance floor as she neared him, his eyes blank and his expression stony. Hermione knew the child in him that she’d loved was lost to his new warrior mentality forever, but she still longed to say goodbye.
She stood before him finally, as the last song played, the last melancholy couples shuffled slowly across the floor, arms desperately around each other.
" McGonagall and Dumbledore have gone," Harry said flatly. " He’s in the Forbidden Forrest. Waiting."
Hermione lowered her eyes to the floor, " I’ll pray for them," she said quietly,
" For all of us."
" They told me to stay here," Harry said, not looking at her. Watching the door for his chance.
" So you’re going, then?" Hermione asked weakly.
" I have to," he answered, still unable to hold her eye, " They are useless against him—and they know that. Dumbledore is probably dead by now, and she might be, too."
" Oh, don’t!" Hermione said, covering her face with her hands. " Don’t say it so easily!"
" I have to go," he choked out, tapping his foot nervously.
Hermione threw her arms around his waist. She wanted to tell him about her vision of his mother, the comforting words Lily had spoken. But they seemed tiny and imaginary now, and Harry would only look at her like she were crazy.
" Dance with me, Harry," she whispered, " One last time."
He began to protest, and then saw the hopeless look in her eyes. He took her hand softly, and slipped the other around her waist.
" You’re wearing your nightgown," he whispered in her ear as they swayed together.
" I just woke up…" Hermione explained, clutching at him. " I guess I would be embarrassed if things were still … as they should be. But now … I don’t care about anything."
" Don’t say such things!" Harry exclaimed, suddenly waking from his monotone determination. " You’re going to live a long life of safety and comfort, Hermione. I’ll see to it by putting an end to the threat of the otherwise."
Hermione shook her head, tears falling past her cheeks. It doesn’t matter anymore, Harry, she thought. Not without you.
Suddenly the doors to the ballroom burst open, and a bloodied, dirty boy staggered in. Everyone watched in terror as he opened his mouth as if to speak, then collapsed, shaking, to the floor.
Hermione and Harry ran to him, only to find that the boy as Draco Malfoy.
" Draco!" Harry shouted, falling to the floor and grabbing the boy’s head in his hands. " Wake up!"
" Harry," he croaked, " Go."
Hermione fell, panicky, to Draco’s side. She pressed a shaking hand to his throat to find that he still had a pulse, and breathed a sigh of relief.
" He’s only passed out," she announced to the bystanders. " Please back off," she said, lifting him. A boy from the crowd rushed out to help her with Draco’s limp body.
As they began to head toward the infirmary, Hermione looked back to catch a last glimpse of Harry.
But he was gone.
Hermione watched from the doorway as Rosa patted Draco’s wounded forehead with a damp cloth. The infirmary was dark, and the school nurse was preparing more beds for the expected onslaught of victims. Hermione couldn’t bear to watch. She turned and stumbled through the halls, thinking of Harry, alone in the pitch dark woods, plunging on toward doom.
I’ll never make it in time, she reminded herself. And then she remembered them—McGonagall’s Silver Boots! They were resting, unused under the bed in her dormitory. She broke into a sprint, lunging toward the Gryffindor complex. There was still time, she told herself. With the help of the boots, she might be able to save Harry, after all.
Once she’d equipped herself with the silver boots, Hermione felt a lightness in her gait. She began to walk, only to find the boots moving her forward at a running pace, effortlessly. She flew out of the castle in record time, past confused students and alarmed professors.
I can still make it, she kept telling herself, I can still save him.
Entering the forest took some willpower. Evil seemed to emanate from the out-reaching branches, to seep from the moss that crept from the forest’s depths. Hermione took one step, then two, the power of the boots helping her overcome her timidness.
Once inside, she could feel Voldemort’s power all around her. Her mind wasn’t quite working right, and as she searched the forest for a sign of Harry—or anyone—she couldn’t help feeling that she was moving in useless circles.
Finally, she heard a rustling in the bushes up ahead. Moving cautiously at first, she gasped as she saw a burst of bright, green light, and heard a boy’s scream. Harry’s.
Hermione dashed into the clearing ahead of her, and drew slightly backward at the sight she beheld upon entering. Voldemort. The dark lord himself, his snake-like eyes fixed on Harry with intensity. His lips curled into a dark smile as he spotted Hermione.
" Hermione!" Harry screamed, " No!" his eyes fell and he clutched at an obviously injured arm. He was breathing heavily and his eyes were wild and confused. Voldemort had been playing with his mind, the way he’d almost inadvertently played with Hermione’s: through her vivid nightmares of this night, of her terrified flight through the forest. Her left shoulder bore the gash that she’d seen in her dreams: inflicted by a sharp branch as she’d dashed through the forest. But she ignored it now, just as she ignored her fear.
" What is this?" Voldemort croaked, moving toward her.
" Stay back!" Harry protested, lunging at him, but Voldemort simply blasted him back with a shot of green lightning. Harry’s pained cry was hard to stomach, but Hermione stood her ground, staring evil in its dark, serpentine eyes.
Voldemort reached out and touched the necklace that rested on Hermione’s breast. Lily’s necklace.
" I thought I killed you, girl," he hissed, and Hermione realized that Lily’s spirit was with her, trying her hardest to look after her son. " No matter," Voldemort insisted, blasting Hermione back against a tree, where burning ties of green light held her fast. Hermione tried not to cry out, but the pain was too much to bear. She sank to the ground, momentarily defeated.
" I have a treat for you, boy," Voldemort spoke, addressing Harry. " Something of a family reunion. Perhaps his allegiance to me will persuade you to join me?"
" What are you talking about?" Harry shouted, rising with difficulty.
Oh, God, Hermione thought: it couldn’t be his father, could it?
But instead, a handsome, dark haired boy ambled out from behind a tree. He stood at Harry’s height, with Lily’s green eyes and James’s dark features. He was identical to Harry in every way, save his smooth, scar-less forehead.
Hermione could see Harry begin to tremble visibly, terrified that Voldemort had created a doppelganger to destroy him. But his counterpart looked just as shocked.
" No!" the boy cried, looking to Voldemort. " Potter … is my brother?"
" Your twin, Finland," Voldemort answered with a wicked grin. " Your twin brother."
" Impossible!" Harry spat, looking Finland up and down, over and over again.
" Dumbledore would have told me!"
Voldemort laughed. " Told you his most humiliating secret? That he was forced to hand over Thomas, your brother, in order to save you, the one who the prophets claimed could defeat me?" he cackled, amused with the situation.
" Nooo!" Thomas/Fin cried, falling to his knees. " I’ll have nothing to do with Potter!"
" Oh, that’s right," Voldemort said, raising an eyebrow. " You disgust him, Harry. While your life has been one of luxury and privilege, Fin here has been forced to live with me and all my torment. Not very fair, don’t you think?"
At those words, Fin bounded up and shot a fireball the size of three or four basketballs at Harry. Harry managed to duck, but the flames caught onto his sleeve, and he screamed as they burned him a bit before he could roll on the ground to put them out.
" Bastard!" Fin cried, tears in his eyes. " You ruined my life!"
" So this is why I lived," Harry said quietly, tears rolling down his cheeks. " Not because I was strong. Because of … foolish visionaries?" He shook his head. " They were wrong," he whispered, " I am too weak to destroy you, Thomas. Do away with me."
" No, Harry!" Hermione screamed. " Thomas!" she shouted, " Look at me!"
" My name is not Thomas!" Fin cried, raising his arms as if to fire at her. But when he saw Hermione’s eyes—the kind eyes of the girl who had comforted him, if accidentally, in the hall of Hogwarts one night—he lowered his hands.
" Thomas, why do you blame Harry for your misery, when it was Voldemort who inflicted it upon you?" she asked desperately. " Harry was only a baby! He had no part in your fate."
" Ridiculous!" Voldemort dismissed. " Harry took from Fin everything that he could – he left him with nothing! Fin!" he commanded, " Destroy this wench!"
Fin began to raise his arms, and then changed his mind.
" She’s right," he said, darkly. " I will show them. I will show them who the strongest Potter is!"
With that, he turned on Voldemort, and blasted him with a fireball. The dark lord simply laughed and shook it off.
" So you defy me now, as well, Finland?" he asked with a grin. " Will you continue to rebel if you understand that I am the sole person who knows the location of your only son?"
" What?" Fin screamed, " Liar! I have no son!"
Voldemort laughed aloud. " I wouldn’t be so certain if I were you," he said darkly. " Marielle was pregnant after the last night you spent with her. I waited the nine months that the baby required inside her, and then did away with his mother."
" Nooooo!" Fin cried, gritting his teeth. " Its not true!"
" Are you willing to take the chance?" Voldemort asked with a grin, " That I wouldn’t crave something so rare as a Riddle-Potter ally. Someone extremely powerful to fight on my side? Oh, I won’t raise him as I did you, Fin. Your son will be privileged, he will receive the finest training, and the darkest influence. You were simply a sperm donor, my boy! And to think you assumed that my daughter loved you! Ha! She was merely carrying out my orders."
Fin collapsed, his head in his hands.
" I’m sorry," he said softly, looking to Harry. " I … cannot …" Harry nodded slowly, trying to stand.
" So what will you do now, Harry my boy?" Voldemort challenged. " Join us. The only family you have left exists with me—dark magicians to the core!"
" Not quite!" they heard someone suddenly shout, and a figure descended upon Voldemort from the trees. In a flash, Hermione realized who it was: James Potter.
" Father!" Harry shouted, as James tackled the Dark Lord, twisting a branch against the Evil Lord’s throat. Voldemort choked, struggled, and knocked James off of him. Winded, he struggled to his feet, preparing to attack Harry’s father with a lightening-force blast that would destroy him.
" Harry!" Hermione shouted, remembering something. Harry’s parents had been able to save him before. Maybe now, with the help of his father… she ripped Lily’s pendant from her neck, and tossed it to Harry. " Use it!" she screamed, and Harry got her meaning.
As Voldemort’s back was to Harry, as he prepared to do away with James, Harry crept up behind him, and jabbed Lily’s amethyst into the Dark Lord’s back. Hermione wasn’t sure it would work, but when she heard Voldemort’s pained scream, she knew they had won.
The snake-like man hissed in complaint, and turned, grabbing at Harry. But Harry, charged with a second-wind, did away with him traditionally—he lifted his boot and kicked the old man until his head had snapped back with a sickening crack. And with that, Tom Riddle fell, finally, dead on the ground.
The magic chains that had held Hermione to the tree released her, and she ran to Harry. He threw his arms around her.
" Thank you," he whispered, and then turned to face his father and brother.
Hermione was stuffed. There had been so many celebrations during the last week of school—for the defeat of Voldemort, and for graduation. Each one had been gloriously fun but sad, because they were now adults, and their days at Hogwarts were forever over.
The gang gathered on the platform while waiting for the Hogwarts Express, a train that they would never ride again. Hermione stood with her suitcase, watching Rosa pick at Draco.
" Don’t forget to apply your ointments regularly!" she nagged, and then looked at Hermione. " He’s so delicate," she joked with a wink, and Draco snarled, as ungrateful as ever.
Ron, Ginny and Seamus walked over to hug Hermione and wish her the best. Ron suggested that they all have a reunion at Ginny and Seamus’s wedding someday, and Ginny blushed.
" I’m surprised at you!" Hermione said with a grin, " You so rarely show this kind of maturity."
" Yeah, well," Ron said, rolling his eyes. " She is my little sister … but she could do worse."
" Heh," Seamus said as Ron slapped him on the back, maybe a little too hard.
Finally, Harry walked down with his father, and McGonagall, who had managed to narrowly escape death in the Forbidden Forest before they’d arrived to stop Voldemort. Unfortunately, Dumbledore had fallen at the Dark Lord’s hands. His funeral had been the only blemish on an otherwise celebratory week.
" Professor!" Hermione gushed, throwing her arms around her favorite teacher. " I will miss your lectures—and your friendship—tremendously."
" I’ve taught you well, I think," McGonagall said, returning Hermione’s hug. She then stood back and placed her hand on James’ shoulder. " I think Mr. Potter has something for you."
" Yes," James said with a small smile, holding out Lily’s amulet for Hermione to take, " This is hard for me to part with … but you deserve it. I think somehow … it was destined to be worn by you, my dear."
" Thank you," Hermione said quietly, fastening it around her neck. " I don’t think we could have stopped Voldemort … without the help of your wife’s spirit."
McGonagall nodded, " Only a symbol of pure love could have stopped such ultimate evil."
" Lily’s love was the purest I’ve ever known," James said with a sigh. He looked to Minerva, and she glanced down shyly. " Come on," he said, placing an arm around her shoulder. " Let’s allow our heroes a proper goodbye." He winked at Harry, and his son rolled his eyes playfully at his father. Hermione’s heart was filled with hope that the two could learn to love each other again.
" I don’t feel like a hero," Harry said, shaking his head. " I never could have done it alone."
" You weren’t meant to have done it alone," Hermione said, nodding her head to someone standing behind Harry. It was Thomas—Fin—standing timidly with his hands in his pockets.
" Fin," Harry said, still visibly nervous around his twin brother. " Come over here." He tried to smile warmly, to seem welcoming. Everyone felt so horribly sorry for Fin, Hermione was afraid he’d get sick of all their pity.
He walked over and sighed softly. " You’re leaving today?" he asked Hermione.
" Yes," she said, " Its time for the rest of my life to begin."
Fin nodded. " I’ve got a long journey ahead of me," he said, " I must find my son. I will not have him grow up the way I did."
Hermione nodded, " Ellie would have wanted it this way," she said. " She’d want you to be your baby’s savior." Just looking at her, Fin seemed to understand that Hermione had communed with Ellie, and he walked forward and embraced her carefully. Hermione squeezed him to her, wishing she could take away his years of pain.
" Goodbye for now," Fin said softly, then turning to Harry with a nod.
" Fin," Harry called as his brother was walking away. " I … want to help you."
Fin stared back at his twin curiously. " Really?" he seemed perplexed. Hermione could see that no one had ever offered to help him with anything before now.
" Yes," Harry said with a decisive nod, " He is my nephew, after all." Fin allowed himself a tiny smile, and reached out to shake Harry’s hand.
" I still need to gather information," Fin told him, " But we’ll leave as soon as possible."
Harry nodded, and watched Fin go, leaving he and Hermione alone on the platform.
" Hmm," Hermione said, raising her shoulders and shutting her eyes, letting a calm breeze blow through her hair. " What will I do without having something to constantly worry about?" Harry laughed and touched her cheek softly.
" You’ll get by," he told her, " You’ll do better than that. You were born for greatness, Hermione Granger. You were the great love of my life."
" Nonsense," Hermione said with a sly grin, " You have greater things ahead of you, Harry."
He shook his head and put his arms around her.
" You saved my life," he whispered softly in her ear.
" I won’t tell anyone," she whispered back, and he giggled.
They separated, maybe for good, never to touch again. Hermione stood staring back at him for a few seconds.
" Will our paths cross again?" she asked him carefully.
Harry let out a breath and looked to the sky.
" I think so," he said.
With that, Hermione blew him a kiss, and turned to go. It was difficult at first, but after a few steps, a feeling of elation surged through her. She was free. Though Harry would always hold a piece of her, she was released from his spell for the time being, free to spread her wings and see the world on her own, with all possibilities ahead.
As she boarded the train, she avoided the back car where all her childhood friends sat, reminiscing for the last time and drinking heavy spiced Butterbeer. She needed a moment to herself before she joined them, a moment to watch Hogwarts roll away in the distance.
As the train pulled away, the sun set brilliantly in the western sky, and Hermione finally unclenched her hand to read the letter she’d held there since she’d walked out of Hogwarts Doors.
How’s my girl? I haven’t heard from you in awhile, but if you’re still alive, why don’t you swing by Midgar this summer? Everything is happening here—you’re never gonna believe this thing called ‘materia’ … oh, I’ll explain later. City life will suit you, I think.
Missing you always,
Hermione smiled to herself, and tucked the letter into the pocket of her jeans. Confident that everything was ahead of her, she waited until the sun had finished dipping beneath the skyline to rise from her seat and head toward the back car. One last laugh with her old friends was in order, before she began the rest of her life.