And so we have made it to the end of The Sapphire Princess, a point I wondered sometimes if I would ever reach.
I'm going to make a speech at the end.
For the final time:
Disclaimer: I do not own Harry Potter.
Three Months Later
Hermione sat cross-legged in the grass, pulling weeds out nervously from the ground as she stared at the tombstone in front of her.
She stared at the final remainder of her once lover, of her dear friend, his corpse returning to matter six feet underneath her.
Reaching forward, she traced her fingers over the lettering slowly, methodically, with reverence, allowing herself the moment of mourning.
She lingered on the word 'friend'.
"Hey, Seamus," she whispered.
Only the ocean breeze around Shell Cottage answered her.
She had not been here since the burial. It had been over four months since then, and she had gotten occupied. After the Battle of Hogwarts, there were repairs to do. Not just of infrastructure, but of society. Of herself.
There were other burials to attend. A lump formed in her chest as she remembered Remus's funeral, Tonks holding a newborn in her arms as she gave the eulogy.
A child who would never have the chance to meet his father.
There were those that were quiet. Putting Blaise to rest at Hogwarts. There had been no body to bury, so they had marked a tombstone just off the grounds. Her, Theo, Daphne, and Draco, all saying goodbye to the friend they had loved.
There had been Fred's funeral, which had turned into a party well into the evening. George had insisted – it would be shameful to his memory to sit around in black and mourn quietly. The only way to see Fred Weasley off was by honouring his life with a wicked feast.
At least, that's how George had explained it to her through the tears.
So, now here she sat, months after she probably should have visited, but as Draco had told her, there was no timeline.
It was all in her own time.
"Hey, Seamus," she repeated, taking a deep breath. "Long time no see."
She stared at the tombstone for another moment.
"I… I miss you," she whispered, knowing only the wind could hear her. "I miss you so much it hurts sometimes. I wake up in the morning and think 'what is Seamus doing today' and then I remember. I remember that you're gone.
"I think you were my first love, in a way," she continued, staring at the ground. "Because I've been thinking about it a lot, and I think I did love you. Not the way you wanted me to, but in the way that I could manage, with the war hanging over us and every day feeling like the end of the world. And I needed you. Gods, some days it felt like I needed you more than I needed to breathe."
She took another deep breath.
"But I also hated you. I hated the way you put me on a pedestal. I hated the way that you expected me to replace Dean. I hated that I couldn't love you the way you wanted me to, the way that you deserved. I… I hate that you gave yourself up for me. You put this huge weight on my shoulder, one that I could never hope to repay."
The wind stung her eyes as the tears begun to fall.
"But I forgive you," she whispered. "And I loved you. And I forgive myself. And I miss you. I hope that you're happy somewhere, with Dean at your side. Gods, I want that for you, Seamus. I want you to have the sun and the moon and all the heavens.
"You were – are a good man. You will always be my someone. You will always be dear to me."
Sobs wracked her body.
"I need you to hear it. Wherever you are. I need to say it at least once. That I'm sorry and I hate you and I love you and I forgive you. That I feel it all, and I probably will forever, and that human beings resist closure. But this is as close as we'll get.
"So, I hope you're at peace, wherever you may be. Know that I loved you, that you are my friend until the sun explodes, and that the rest of it… it doesn't matter. Not anymore. Not in the face of losing you."
She reached into the bag laying beside her crossed legs and pulled out a single lily. She placed it softly at the base of the tombstone.
"I will mourn you," she whispered. "And I will never forget you. But I can move forward. I can keep living. And I know you want me to."
She sat with Seamus a while longer, until she had dried her body of all its tears, until she had found some sort of completion in her soul, some knowledge that it was okay to say goodbye. That she could forgive herself for not dying in his place. That she could forgive him for not giving her the choice.
She stood up on shaking legs after what felt like an hour, giving him a final nod.
"Goodbye, Seamus," she whispered, as she stumbled down the grass pathway towards the cottage.
The two men stood in silence, staring at the stone before them. Draco clenched his jaw, his hands in tight fists in his pockets.
Theo gave him a side-ways glance. "Are you… are you sure this was a good idea?"
Draco nodded curtly, his robes suddenly feeling too formal for the occasion, and at the same time not formal enough. He could just hear her in his ears, going on and on about colour choices and skin tones and palettes…
He sighed, glancing down at the tombstone.
1980 – 1999
A Force of a Woman
Passionate and Protective
Draco sighed, running a hand through his hair. "Hey, Pansy. I hope you're… I hope you're doing okay. Wherever you are."
"Draco," Theo muttered. "We don't… we don't have to do this."
"I do," he answered, still staring at the edifice. "For her. For Blaise. For… for me."
Theo pursed his lips, but nodded, not saying anything else.
Draco didn't know what he could say to the stone. He was speaking to a bloody rock. So, instead, he closed his eyes and pictured her in front of him. The mischievous glint in her eye, her hair shoulder-length the way she liked it, a bright smile on her face.
He felt his muscles relax.
"I miss you, Pansy," he whispered to the phantom girl. "I have missed you for years. I wish that I could have been here for you. I wish that I had told you the truth when you wanted me to, almost five years ago now.
"I wish I hadn't shut you out. Not just you, all of you. Theo, Daphne… Blaise. I wish I had understood how much you loved me. But I hated myself, so I couldn't understand why anyone else felt differently.
"I'm sorry I didn't keep in touch," he muttered. "Seemed… silly, in the face of everything else going on. I'm sorry I didn't know you died. I'm sorry that I missed your funeral. I'm sorry that I didn't mourn you alongside our friends, where we could have all held each other up in your absence. But I didn't. And I almost lost them all twice.
"You were the glue that held us together. You and your fierce love, so bloody protective it was annoying, but it was yours, you know? And I miss that. Some days I can't believe I didn't appreciate it when I had it. When I had you."
He felt Theo clasp his shoulder as tears began to fall.
"Love ya, Pans," he whispered, sucking in air that refused to reach his lungs. "Love you forever. I hope you're happy. I hope you found… I hope you found Blaise. I hope you lot are laughing at us from heaven. And I hope I get the chance to tell you this one day."
"We will," Theo muttered.
Theo pulled him into a side-hug as they both stared down at the grave of their oldest friend. Draco cried in silence, thankful that Theo was ignoring it, allowing him the moment of privacy to mourn.
To remember. To honour.
To live in her memory.
Hermione apparated to the gates of Hogwarts, losing her balance slightly and tripping on the uneven turf.
Strong arms reached out to catch her before she fell.
She didn't even have to look up to know.
"Thanks, Draco," she whispered, as he pulled her up into his arms.
In the months since the Battle of Hogwarts, they had begun a real relationship. One without war. One without death hanging over their head.
One with potential.
One that was about the future.
It was a relationship where they spent evenings cuddling and drinking wine in the flat Hermione had recently acquired in North London. It was a relationship where she was woken up every day to the smell of coffee and burnt toast.
It was full of late nights and early mornings, of rushing out the door to go work on the reconstruction. Of book recommendations and dumb political arguments about the newly reformed Ministry. It was beers on Friday with Harry, Ginny, and Ron. It was vodka on Saturdays with Theo and Daphne.
It was home.
Draco called it the after.
Hermione called it paradise.
She took his hand and glanced up towards Hogwarts.
No longer burning.
The sapphire she always wore under her clothes burned against her skin for a moment.
Something old, something new, something blue.
"Are we meeting them there?" Hermione asked, as Draco began walking towards the wooded edge.
He nodded. "Theo went to go pick up Daphne after we… after we went and saw Pansy."
Hermione felt his breath still as her own. "Are you alright?"
His jaw was tense. "As good as I could be, considering."
She continued walking, having learned early on with Draco when to push it.
And when to let it be.
"And you?" He asked after a moment. "How was… how was Finnigan?"
"Necessary," she whispered. "It was necessary."
Draco nodded, and she knew he understood.
He understood her better than anyone ever had in her life.
They reached the woods as two figures came into view. Hermione couldn't help the smile that lit up her face as she rushed forward to wrap Daphne and Theo into a hug.
It had been only a few days since she had seen them, but they were quickly becoming family.
She couldn't help but laugh at her own joke.
Theo raised an eyebrow. "All good there, Hermione?"
She nodded. "Always, cousin."
He rolled his eyes. "I hate when you call me that."
"You hate that you're obligated to put up with me by blood."
"I'd put up with you anyway," he chuckled. "You make a wicked Moscow Mule."
She snorted. He had a point.
They turned towards where Draco and Daphne were, and Hermione's foot got caught in a root. She tripped over herself, reaching her hand out to stop her fall.
"Ow," she muttered, picking herself up from the ground.
"Hermione?" Draco called out. "You alright?"
"Yeah," she answered, looking over her scrapped up hands. "Check your palms. They might be cut up."
Draco walked over, glancing at his palms as he arrived. He frowned.
"My hands are fine."
"What?" Hermione exclaimed, showing him the small gashes that the fall had caused.
He showed her his palms. They were clean.
"The Sire's Curse?" she whispered.
He took out his wand and cast a quick Episkey, cleaning her wounds.
"Maybe the line's not in danger anymore," he muttered. "Makes sense. Might have deactivated it."
She chuckled. "Guess we don't have to have kids now."
He looked up at her, and she recognized fierce possession in his eyes.
"Not yet," he smirked.
Her heart skipped a beat.
They turned back to where Theo and Daphne were laughing at them.
Draco wrapped Daphne in a quick hug, as the group of four changed direction, heading to where they had begun meeting every month.
A meeting Hermione expected them to be having for the rest of their lives.
The approached the stone slowly, the writing coming into view. Hermione felt her chest clench as it always did in this moment.
The group reached the plaque at the bottom of the willow tree, the chosen resting place of Blaise Zabini.
They stood in silence for a moment, as they always did, each of them unsure who should speak first.
Theo took a step forward.
"Hey Blaise," he said, running a hand through his brown hair, his hazel eyes on the ground. "Missed you again this month. We… Draco's our new secret keeper. We thought he was the only one who could ever follow in your shadow. So far he hasn't mucked it up."
Draco rolled his eyes as Theo took a shuddering breath.
"Anyway. I miss you. Always will. I love you, my brother. My family. Hope you and Pans are partying it up in heaven. Merlin knows what a riot you as a combo must be."
He took a step back, as Daphne strode forward.
She kneeled down, conjuring a flower and placing it at the base of the plaque. "Hey, Blaise. We're getting a kitten. I thought you… you would like to know. You always liked cats. Thought they were vengeful little daemons but liked when they were around. I think I'm going to name it after you. That way you're always with us."
She stood up quickly, backing into Theo and resting her face in the crook of his neck, where the others couldn't see the tears escaping his eyes.
Draco stepped forward.
"Hey, mate," Draco muttered. "I've… I've been thinking about you a lot the past few weeks. I don't… I don't think I really let your death hit me after the Battle. There was too much else happening, but recently, it's like you're haunting me. And I can't help wonder, why?
"I think it's because it should've been me," he said quietly, and Hermione knew these words were only for Blaise. Theo and Daphne took several steps back, recognizing the need for privacy.
"You were the good one, the good man. You were the honest one, the one everyone loved. You were the one who chosen a side, who wasn't neutral, not really. You were the good friend. And you were the one who died.
"It's fucking unfair," he murmured. "It's bloody fucking unfair. You should be with us. You should get to see us paint the living room and make fun of the colour. You should be at our vodka nights, beating all of by several drinks, but still be the last man standing.
"I just… I just miss you. I loved you. And now you're gone. And you shouldn't be. And I don't think I'll ever be okay with that. Not really. How can you be okay with a good man's death?"
Hermione reached out and took his hand.
Draco took a deep, shuddering breath. "I wish you had lived to see the after. It's here and it's brilliant, just like I said it would be. But you knew, you knew you wouldn't make it. All that 'I want to die on my own terms' bullshit. I hope you felt like it was on your terms. I hope… I hope you're happy. Not happy. I hope you're… secure."
Draco took a step back, and it was Hermione's turn.
She stared down at the plaque on the ground.
The Very Best of Us
No Good Man was Ever Neutral
"Blaise," she whispered, sinking to her knees and running her fingers across the stone. "I… I didn't know what I wanted to say this month.
"Every other time we've visited I could only cry, because it was too painful to imagine that you were gone. Not you. Please never you. And this is the first time I really feel like I can speak. Like I have that power.
"You… I only knew you for a few months. The most important months of our lives. And in that short period of time, I got to know you on a level I hardly know anyone. I saw your honesty, and your humour, and your kindness. I saw you laugh, I saw you curse, I saw you cry. I saw your everything.
"That's the thing about war. There's no hiding in it. It rips away any charade we attempt and shows all the raw recesses of who we are. I saw deep into your soul, and it was dazzling. You were dazzling. Every room you walked into, it lit up with your presence. Every room you're not in now is duller for your absence.
"I wish I had had the chance to see you outside of that place," she whispered. "To see you full of joy. But I didn't. I'm thankful either way that I knew you for even a moment. And I hope wherever you are, you're experiencing that joy. In the fullness that only Blaise Zabini can.
"You always called me Princess, but you were the King, Blaise. You always will be."
Hermione took the second lily out of her bag and laid it on the plaque. Standing up, she took Draco's hand, and they stood in revered silence.
Under the willow tree that protected their best friend.
"Are you alright, mate?" Theo asked, as they walked along the river. Hermione and Daphne were up ahead, speaking in voices too low for Draco to hear.
"Not the best day of my life," he answered, watching Hermione's hair sway in the wind.
"I know what you mean," Theo answered. "I'm glad we did it, though. I think they would have wanted us to."
Draco nodded. Of that he was certain – somewhere in the cosmos, Blaise and Pansy were drinking a glass of wine, giving a toast to their friends still on earth, waiting patiently for the day they would be reunited.
A long time from now.
Theo followed Draco's line of sight, landing on Hermione in front of him. "You alright?"
Draco nodded. "Just… thinking."
"About your witch?" Theo asked, a smirk appearing on his face. "You were never a subtle man."
He shot Theo a quick glare before returning his gaze to Hermione.
Her hair was kaleidoscopic in the sun.
"It amazes me that you're an Occlumens, Draco. I feel like I can read your thoughts from here."
Draco scoffed. "Doubt it."
"Then inform the patient audience. What are you thinking?"
He sighed, watching his witch – his soulmate – burst out laughing over something Daphne had said.
"I'm just in love, Theo. What can I say?"
But it was more than that. Of course, it was. Love felt like such a benign word for how he felt about Hermione Le Fay.
He had often felt like language failed him when it came to their connection, when it came to her. He would always fall short of the sonnets that he wanted to write in her honour.
But gods, did he want to try.
She was a willow tree in the fall; golden and iridescent, holding creation in her roots and magic in her leaves.
She was the ocean in the moonlight, the currents leading him to safe harbour.
She was perfection in a woman, a soulmate in the form of a witch.
She was everything he had ever wanted.
Everything he thought he would never deserve.
As if she felt his gaze, she glanced over her shoulder, shooting him a smile and a quick wink, promises of moments to come.
Hermione was magic incarnate.
And as the elements forced together, she was impossible. She was perfection. She was the before, the during, the after.
And he loved her. Morganna, help him. He loved her.
And he would love her forever.
Until magic itself no longer existed.
Until they were dust in the cosmos.
But even then.
He would love her.
Draco couldn't help but smile.
As the stars so declared.
What a journey this has been.
I'm not sure if I can adequately put into words how much this story means to me.
I began writing it in August 2015, on my way to university for the first time. I went to school in a different part of the country, and my parents and I drove three days to get there. I sat in the back seat and worked on this story, publishing the first chapter in a hotel room on the route.
I have worked on this story on and off for the past six years. It has seen me through the worst parts of my life and the best; I have written this story since I was 18 years old. My entire adult life.
I gave up on it for years. I became too busy, I didn't have the space for fanfiction they way I had when I was younger. After I graduated, and I was living abroad, I was on a bus from the Czech Republic to Germany and thought "what if I pick up The Sapphire Princess again"?
And the rest is history.
Whether you've been here for years, you grew up with me. You watched me learn, suffer, grow, get heartbroken, fall in love, all in the pages of this book. It's all in there; six years of my life.
Whether you just found this story, I welcome you to it. I hope it does for you what it did for me.
I poured my soul into this book. It's not perfect. Nothing will ever be. It has typos. It has mistakes.
Just like I do.
I'm very emotional right now. Thank you for security over the past six years; for a place I could always come home to and be welcomed with open arms.
I hope you enjoyed it as much as I did.
Until next time.
And please, as always, review :)
Final stats on publication of final chapter: 1,071 reviews, 1,183 favourites, 2,007 follows.
I'll see you on the next adventure.
Only ever love,