A Good Man
After witnessing Snape's death the three of them are standing on the stairs of Hogwarts' main hall. Harry is explaining how he became a horcrux to Ron who was still very distraught. Hermione was already crying but for more reasons than just the death that has littered the last twenty-four hours of her life. She is sad that she was not smart enough to save Harry from inevitable death, she is sad that she cannot sacrifice herself, she is sad she did not tell Malfoy that she never stopped caring about him, she is sad that Ron will lose his best friend, she is sad that Voldemort was born under terrible circumstances, she is sad that Hogwarts has been the site for this battle; the list never ends. Everywhere she looks she finds a reason to cry.
"Hermione, you've been brilliant." He whispers as he leans in for a hug, "There is nobody more a hero than you."
"You know that Malfoy lied, don't you?" She sobs into his neck. If her friend must die then he must know that Draco Malfoy was not the enemy. Under no circumstances will she allow Severus Snape to be redeemed and not her beloved reader.
"Is this really the time?" Harry says, forgetting that he won't have any other chance for a brief moment. After his initial surprise his face softens and he allows Hermione to speak. Besides, he must remember that she's rarely said something meaningless during times like these.
"When he said that the diadem would eventually be destroyed in the fiendfire he was lying to you. He went back to destroy it himself so that you wouldn't sacrifice yourself over the wrong thing. Draco Malfoy,” Sobs well up in throat like poison in her body. Her hands begin to shake just before she declares the truth, “-was a friend." Hermione can barely keep herself together now as she's talking about the Slytherin hero, the second one really. For years when she was younger, when they were all younger, the idea of a good Slytherin was abstract and impossible. Now they had discovered two in one evening.
"What do you mean he was a friend?" Ron asks with a squeaky voice. He's been trying to hide his own sorrow but this forces him to speak. How could it not? They just established their feelings for each other and now she's admitting that she was a friend to a boy who, as far as Ron was concerned, never stopped treating her like dirt. It is reasonable for him to be confused.
"I don't have time now to explain but he went back into the Room of Requirement so that you could save the world, Harry James Potter. Don't you ever forget it!" Hermione commands as she leans back into Harry, not even realizing that she'd separated to begin with. Ron joins them and the moment of silence becomes awkward. The knowledge of Harry's doom is too painful for any of them to feel comfortable in each other's presence. When Hermione opens her eyes she has an idea, which is directly related to the fact that she sees Draco Malfoy running at them – Elder Wand in hand.
"Harry, I know this is going to send the wrong message but I need you to disarm Draco Malfoy right now." Harry and Ron both jerk away from her as she spins him around. Harry doesn't really process what she's asking so she tells him again, "Disarm him right now!"
Even Draco pokes his arm out and encourages him, "You have to do it! It's your only hope!" Hermione is flattered instantly that she and Draco are on the same page. If Harry disarms Draco then that will make him the true owner of the Elder Wand. Voldemort already said he'd be 'taking care of Malfoy' later so eventually he would get the Elder Wand and use it against Harry.
"Harry!" Hermione, Ron, and Draco all shout his name and finally elicit a response from him. Effortlessly he lifts his arm and disarms Malfoy. As soon as Harry has done this Draco bends over and takes the wand back. When he approaches the trio, Hermione notices immediately that his clothes are different and he's got burn marks over his left hand, and over his neck.
Everything is silent. Everyone is watching Draco carefully, Ron and Harry for different reasons than Hermione. Time is ticking and Harry only has so much longer to turn himself over. Draco reaches into pocket and hands over the Basilisk fang that should have been on Harry's person. Hermione scoffs before she shakes her head. This means Draco pilfered it during the scuffle he had with Harry earlier.
Hermione opens her mouth to speak, to offer to fix some of his wounds. But he takes off running after that. How he is managing it is beyond her because she can only guess that he burnt his entire left side during his return to the Room of Requirement. Her heart drops into the pit of her stomach watching him go, not knowing if she will ever see him again either. Seconds later, Harry is following in his footsteps, more or less in a figurative manner. When both boys are completely out of sigh Ron comes over and takes Hermione's hand.
"We can only wait now. Let's go find the others" Hermione nods but does not move. Her eyes are stuck on the last place she would ever see Harry, and possibly Draco as well. Ron must tug her away. She wants to cry again as they leave but she has no more tears left to spill.
After leaving the Golden Trio on their own, Draco was able to meet up with his mother before she reached Voldemort's hiding place in the Forbidden Forest. He handed over the Elder Wand, saying "Please give this to the Dark Lord. It belongs to him." He also reminded his mother of their agreement before going separate ways.
Draco knew her time was coming. She would be faced with the opportunity deceive the Dark Lord and if she didn't take it then Draco would never forgive her. In the meantime he made his way back through the school, in search of anyone he knew. Harry Potter had been given an hour to turn himself over and who knew how long after that would something happen.
There's little way to keep track of time when wandering the rubble but eventually Draco finds Blaise and Pansy. They were hiding behind a cracked column near the Great Hall where the wounded are being treated and healed, and the dead are being covered. He approaches them cautiously but finds that he is welcomed immediately, which is a surprise to him.
"Oh, Draco!" Pansy sobs. She squeezes Blaise's hand before coming over to him and hugging him tightly, "We thought you were with Voldemort and the Death Eaters."
Draco's brows furrow as he wonders how in the dark Pansy's family had been keeping her. Draco knew for a fact that her father was a Death Eater. He expected that Pansy would have been aware of her parents' standpoint in the war. Or perhaps she knew but ignored it? He refuses to dwell on it and shakes his head.
"Not anymore. Not ever, really. I did what I had to for my family but my loyalties belong to Potter and what he stands for." Draco finally admits the truth out loud. He was never invested in creating a pureblood society amongst witches and wizards. Blaise joins him and pulls Pansy into his chest where she continues to cry; sometimes mumbling about how unfair all the destruction is to everyone who loved Hogwarts. Blaise hushes her before turning his focus to Draco.
He asks about the burns on Draco's left side. There is no quick way to explain it so that Pansy also understands so he offers the shortest version that will save the most time. At the very least it will make sense to Blaise – he was the one who asked anyway.
"Voldemort has been using horcruxes to keep himself alive. One of them was in the Room of Requirement. Goyle cast a hellish fiendfire spell that killed him. Potter got Crabbe and me out but I'd lost the item inside. After he left I went back inside to destroy it for good. Unfortunately, the heat got to me and made me sluggish. At least I came out with my life." Draco knows he has not given the story any justice but Blaise understands fully and that is all that matters. For a few minutes he remains completely silent and listens to Pansy's steadying breaths. Once she has composed herself she breaks away and looks Draco squarely in the face. Her lips are puckered but in a way that seems analytic. She is trying to read him but Blaise doesn't let her struggle too long.
"If we survive this she better not let you pass her by a second time. Nobody will love her the that way you do." Blaise has such a calm air in his words when he speaks. It causes Pansy to light up with a smile at his words, probably because he has answered her unspoken question. She doesn't hesitate now to ask Draco who the girl is out loud. He doesn't feel as if he should tell her but on some level he still feels as if there's a debt to be paid.
So, since he has no intention of returning to Lord Voldemort's side after this, Draco decides he may as well reveal himself to someone other than Blaise. He returns a smile to Pansy and even leans in to kiss her cheek. She once elicited the worst in Draco because she always pressed herself onto him. However, the war and two years of time have allowed him to rehabilitate those natural reactions. Now she feels like company, like an old friend.
"In our fifth year I fell in love with Hermione Granger. She rejected me because of the danger it would bring to everyone we ever knew. So I stayed with my family of Death Eaters and she stuck it out with Potter. But I have done everything I can to give them the advantage. There is nothing more I can do but wait for the end and hope that it was enough." He finds himself with stinging eyes. Just as he thinks it, Pansy points out exactly why he is so emotional on the matter aloud.
"For the war and for her." She says quietly. Her eyes reveal that the story is a tragedy. Two young adults who love each other dearly but they represent opposite sides of a war. How could that have any sort of happy ending? Draco has been doing well to keep himself from thinking the worst. He knew that he could die; he knew that she could die; they could both die. But the most horrific ending of them all was that they both lived but they could never be together.
Harry lay limply on the ground and he can hear Voldemort command Narcissa Malfoy to check him, ensure that he is dead. Since he has just had a near-death experience surely he can pass as dead so he remains perfectly still. He forces himself to continue taking the shallowest of breaths possible. Harry refuses any reaction when Mrs. Malfoy's hand touches his own to check for a pulse. Her cheek brushes his as well.
"I am saving you because you saved my son, Potter." She whispers delicately. A few moments tick away before she shifts slightly away.
He keeps his heart in check and his mind at bay in preparation for the events to take place soon. This is a war and he is a very key player in the process. He chose not to die when he was in limbo. He chose to come back and fight. So fight he would! Narcissa stands up only a moment later and twists in place, cracking leaves just beyond the small of his back, announcing after she stops moving, "Harry Potter is dead."
Hermione refuses to break down at the sight of Harry's dead body in Hagrid's arms. She stumbles to the front of the group in disbelief even though she had just bid him farewell such a short while ago. Ron is behind her with dirtied clothes and the sting of loss fresh in his heart. As Voldemort starts requesting for people to join him he seems to be staring in one particular direction. Hermione daringly moves forward even further to see exactly who it is that Voldemort has locked on specifically.
"No." She whispers to herself quickly. Draco is slowly moving forward. One step, two, three, and four! He is almost half way across the clearing between Voldemort's menaces and Hogwarts' loyalists. Hermione's heart is pounding so loudly that she doesn't even hear Neville emerge. His speech must be compelling because Voldemort is focused on him. Everyone is watching him except Hermione and Draco. Instead she is locked on Draco who is no longer moving. Then he is looking at someone else. Hermione traces his gaze back to his mother whose lips are moving only enough for someone notice if they are watching. Draco is watching and as soon as he processes what she is trying to say to him he moves towards her again, only more quickly this time.
She deems him a traitor, or at least she tries. He should not have gone back over to Voldemort's people but he has. Hermione is terribly upset and barely notices that everything around her is frenzied. There are cheers and war cries. Spells are being cast again. When she redirects her focus she notes that Harry is still alive. Harry is actually alive! Everyone backs into the school's structure as the war begins once again. Ron takes Hermione by the wrist just as Neville is sent flying backwards through the doorway.
A barrier is put in place temporarily as everyone tries to regroup.
There is little time to plan strategically. Harry instructs that Nagini, Voldemort's snake, is the only horcrux left. He says that it is up to them to kill her. Once the last horcrux is destroyed there will be nothing left but the tiniest sliver of soul imaginable that makes up Voldemort's physical existence. At that time, Harry will able to end his enemy once and for all.
That tasks Hermione and Ron with destroying Nagini. There is no hesitation once Harry Potter runs off past the barrier to provoke Voldemort to follow him. As soon as he is out of sight Hermione pulls Ron alongside her, heading back out into the unprotected parts of Hogwarts to track down the serpent horcrux.