Playing with Fire

Chapter 71: Rewind

Song: The Untold - Succession Studios

Everything was dark and it felt like her body was struck like lightning. She was flung back, hitting the ground hard enough for the wind to be knocked out of her. Hermione could barely hear Draco’s voice through the buzzing in her ears. Everything was fuzzy.

She was dying. She felt it in every fiber of her body. Like her magic was short-circuiting inside of her, fizzling out. This is it.

Her heart rate slowed and she was certain it would continue to do so until it stop beating. But then, memories began flashing through her mind like a slideshow.

Speaking to Draco and realizing the Elder Wand was his. Planning. Voldemort showing up. The Incendiaries showing up. Voldemort shooting a killing curse at Draco. Hermione apparating in front of it.

She vaguely heard shouting, spells, and rippling flames against the cold wind.

The pictures in her mind rewinded and played over again, more slowly, more detailed this time. Something was missing. She was forgetting something important, she felt it. Her heart hadn’t stopped beating, simply steadied.

Realizing Draco possessed the Elder Wand. Planning. Practicing magic with Lucius in the dungeon when Draco walked in. Everyone showing up at the manor. Voldemort using a killing curse and Hermione apparating in front of it.

Rewind.

Draco possessed the Elder Wand. Planning. Hermione disarming Draco playfully when he came into the dungeon to show him she had been practicing.

The picture froze. Hermione disarming Draco. I disarmed Draco.

Her hearing swam back into her consciousness and her eyes shot open. She sat up quickly, scrambling to her feet eagerly. Draco possessed the Elder Wand. I disarmed Draco. I possess the Elder Wand.

I possess the fucking Elder Wand.

Fear made way for triumph. For revenge. For retribution. A horrifying grin crept its way across Hermione’s face. Time moved slowly, as if she was underwater. She slowly turned in a circle, taking in the scene.

Death Eaters and Incendiaries going head to head. There were more Incendiaries than she had imagined. Much more. And they were using dark curses against the Death Eaters. She felt hope burning in her chest so brightly she thought she might burst into flames.

Finally her eyes locked on a vicious looking blonde dueling ruthlessly with Voldemort himself. He breathed heavily, dodging and shooting curses. It was so eerily reminiscent of Harry at the Battle of Hogwarts that for a moment she was disoriented by it.

He had promised her they’d win. And now, she’d get to make sure he kept that promise.

No one seemed to notice her recovery, they were all too distracted in their own duels. Fire roared at it engulfed the entirety of Malfoy Manor. Ginny.

She pushed the thought away in favor of the greater good. The moment they had been waiting for and couldn’t continue to wait for any longer. It was time.

Hermione was spattered with the blood of unknown witches and wizards that lay scattered across the property like a mass graveyard. Her rib jutted out of her skin, she laughed. Her hair was ratted in its ponytail and her clothes were in shreds. She felt unstoppable.

Hermione’s mark lit so brightly with emotion and power and magic that it singed the sleeve off of her shirt. Revealing not only the dragon around her arm, but the “mudblood” written below. She was proud of it. Proud beyond words that she was a fucking mudblood, and she was going to kill Voldemort.

As she drew closer to the only two dueling wizards there that she was focused on, her mark pulsed. She felt herself growing stronger in Draco’s proximity, and he seemed to receive a surge of revitalization as well, quickening his pace. Magically harmonious.

And for a moment, she was almost sure she felt a presence in her womb. Not a stirring. Not a life yet necessarily, but a magic separate from hers. Power. Strength. It’s you and me little one. We’re going to do this together. My magic and yours. Us. Together.

For the first time she truly acknowledged the presence and a grin grew across her face, her eyes crinkling at the sides.

With her wand gripped tightly in her hand, she approached them, walking through a wave of flames without receiving even a single singed hair on her head from it. She was unstoppable. She was stronger. She would never burn out. Hermione Granger was going to end it. This is how it was supposed to end.

“Move”, Hermione commanded a few yards away from Draco. He turned abruptly and backed away with an astonished look. His pupils blew wide and relief flooded his features. He looked as though he had seen a ghost. His cheeks were stained with tears that he had fought through for her.

Voldemort noticed and redirected his attention to Hermione. The look of shock on his face was absolutely extraordinary.

He shot a curse at her but she deflected it with ease. Deflected a killing curse because it came from her wand. Voldemort tried again. Deflected again. It wasn’t his wand.

You foolish, foolish boy”, she taunted, using the words against him that he had used only minutes ago on her boyfriend. The father of her child. Her soulmate. Hers.

Voldemort hissed, shooting curses until he was panting heavily and Hermione dodged them or dismissed them repeatedly with ease. Her power and strength grew even more, it was bursting at the seams.

“It was never yours, Tom”, she smirked. She raised her hand as the Elder Wand flew into it and Voldemort stumbled back. “Isn’t it funny? How something as ridiculous as arrogance can result in ignorance? Your own downfall?”

Voldemort opened his mouth open to say something but she’d had enough foreplay.

“Avada Kedavra”, she said in a chillingly calm voice as the light shot viciously from the Elder Wand and into Voldemort. He incinerated. And it was beautiful to Hermione. Like a work of art. Music to her ears. Lightning struck the ground and all movement seemed to cease as realization hit every present Death Eater - their Dark Marks began fading. She knew because she watched Draco’s lighten until it was a mere outline. He looked as if he was breathing again after being underwater for ages.

Death Eaters scattered haphazardly in all directions. Everyone except Bellatrix Lestrange.

The woman swooped in through black smoke, emitting a discordant yelp as Voldemort was whisked away from existence.

“You filthy little-”, but Hermione was all too ready for this moment.

“Crucio”, she said, feeling the energy flow through her veins like molten lava.

Bellatrix collapsed to the ground, writhing and screaming.

“How d-dare y-you”, Bellatrix tried, but it was no use.

“Crucio”, she repeated, feeling that same warmth in her veins throb with pleasure. The moment was exultant.

Blood jumped out of the woman’s mouth as she choked, barely flinching now. Hermione made her way over to the woman, pinning her limbs down with her hands and knees, deliberately pressing painfully into them.

Hermione reached into her back pocket and pulled the knife that she had been so patiently waiting to use. “Recognize this?”, she said with an evil grin, forcing the woman to stare back at her in horror.

“How about this?”, she continued, yanking her sleeve up to show the word “mudblood” that was still etched into the flesh as if she received it yesterday.

She had never seen true fear in the eyes of Bellatrix Lestrange before - and it was worth the wait. Well worth it.

She waved the wand, securing the woman’s limbs to the ground so she could use her hands. Ripping Bellatrix’s left sleeve off of her arm entirely, she dug the tip of the blade exactly where her own mark was. An eye for an eye.

“F-filthy-”, Bellatrix spat but wailed in pain, throwing her head back hard against the frozen ground as Hermione pushed the tip of the blade more firmly, watching the red flow freely from the woman.

“And to think, pureblood doesn’t look any different”, she chuckled, holding the blade up to the woman’s face and wiping the blood across her cheek.

Bellatrix weeped now, and Hermione dove back into her arm, carving into it as if it were a work of art to be displayed in a museum. When she finally finished, the woman was barely breathing.

She leaned back to admire it.

BITCH was etched hideously there, blood pouring into the white snow underneath Bellatrix and staining it.

The woman’s lip trembled but her eyes were like gunmetal. Hermione glanced down at her stomach, making sure that Bellatrix noticed before she spoke, “Such a shame you won’t ever get to meet your niece or nephew, Bellatrix. Aren’t you so proud to have a half-blood descendant on the way?”

Bellatrix’s eyes blew wide with horror and disgust. She started to speak but Hermione silenced it with a quick, penetrating slice to her throat that rang out sharply.

Hermione laughed maniacally as she watched the life leave Bellatrix’s eyes and her body went limp. It was bliss. It was for Harry and even for Narcissa. For her unborn child. For her soulmate. For the Incendiaries. It was all over because of her.

She rose slowly, looking like a ruthless, bloodthirsty villain for all intents and purposes. But she wasn’t. No matter how you frame it, no matter how she decided to take her pound of flesh, she was the hero. She saved the day. She ended it. Hermione Granger.

And she wasn’t fucking sorry for any of it.

The wind whistled harshly against her ears and she turned in a circle to take in the scene. Draco stood back, horrified, as if he didn’t even recognize her. She grinned, eyes glittering and mark glowing fiercely as his did the same. Despite his expression, she could sense the pride he felt towards her. Could sense that he felt guilty about it. She knew he didn’t want her to be this way, but she had to be this way. It was necessary.

Thick smoked wafted through the air as the figures around her swam into view, still as statues. The Incendiaries. Ron stood there horrified. His face was white as a ghost and there was a long, bleeding wound diagonally across his face.

She found McGonagall and Kingsley, only a few feet from one another, wearing matching expressions of trepidation.

Then her eyes landed on Ginny. Ginny, whose clothes were half-singed off. Ginny, who had been there for her even when she hadn’t realized it. Ginny - the only person who was smiling just as greedily as Hermione.

They rushed into each other’s arms and sobbed loudly. No one around them moved. No one spoke. No one even breathed. Hermione shook in her friend’s grasp and it was like the high all came tumbling down, and she could truly take it all in.

She pulled back slightly, tears and blood staining her face.

Her eyes met Rons and he sprinted towards her, pulling her into his arms tightly and picking her up off the ground. “Mione?”, he said delicately, as if he wasn’t sure it was actually her. She nodded eagerly into his shoulder, grasping the back of his head and struggling to find air.

She pulled back slowly, taking a few steps back. Everyone’s eyes were still on her.

Her mind raced and slowed, alternating with hesitance. She raised her wand to the sky, looked up, and red smoke shot out of her wand.

It filled the sky, swirling rapidly and whipping against the frigid wind until it fully manifested there like a beacon of triumph, hope, and solace.

A phoenix.

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