Summary: After Harry Potter falls during the Battle of Hogwarts, Hermione is left as the leader of the dwindling resistance. Her sanity hinging on a desperate love affair with a man that fights for the opposite side.

Tags: [Draco x Hermione], Voldemort Wins War AU, rated M for (consensual) sexually explicit content, language, violence, minor character deaths, torture, trauma. Romance, Angst, Action, Drama, One-Shot.

o o o

Hermione pulled Draco closer. She needed to feel more of him. He pushed her legs apart further as he thrust into her with wild abandon. The sex was always rough, desperate, messy. Nothing romantic about it. She was leaning against her desk. Her toes barely grazing the floor as he drove into her. She held him, clinging to him for more. This need was chaotic, it was ugly, and yet it was so damn necessary for her sanity. "Fuck," Hermione muttered as he hit that vulnerable spot within her. He smirked as he pulled her down onto him repeating the action. She bit her lip to stop from crying out, a force of habit. Others were around, but the two of them had learned to put up silencing charms, and he had even cast a look-away charm that made people avoid the tent like the plague. Because she needed this, she fucking needed this with Draco. It didn't matter that he was a Death Eater, it didn't matter that he was a high-ranking member on Voldemort's side.

Hermione never asked for this. She never once asked to be the leader of the fucking Resistance against Voldemort. That had always been Harry's job. She entwined her hands in Draco's hair, bringing him into her, she locked her lips on his. He tasted like whiskey. Whiskey and sweat, and that ever so familiar taste of him. She needed more. It had been two years since Harry died. That was when the world went wrong. That was when Voldemort took over, and things had never been the same. There were only pockets of resistance left in Britain and she was their chosen leader. Everything would have gone right had Harry just truly been the owner of the Elder Wand.

She gasped; she was so close now. Hermione reached her delicate fingers down between them, inching between her thighs to give her that much-needed push over the edge. He grabbed her hand pulling it away. "A little longer," he grunted as he pushed her properly onto the desk. His hot breath misting over her neck. Each thrust his cock filled her to the brim. It was wrong and she knew it, but she couldn't stop. She'd come to terms with it.

Harry had been the chosen one, he was the one that was meant to balance good and evil, but he left her behind on the floor of the Great Hall of Hogwarts. Took the damn easy way out and left the entire fucking world on her shoulders. And if she was going to continue to push through it, continue to survive, she needed this. Draco grabbed her hips roughly to meet his. She wrapped her legs around him as she felt it start, the pleasure building in her belly. A desperate cry escaped into the air as the pleasure hit its peak in her orgasm, every muscle, every fiber exploding in pleasure as she felt herself contracting around his cock buried inside her.

"Fuck, Granger."

She opened her eyes to feel him pull out of her at the last second, she felt the stickiness of his cum on her thigh. He leaned into her, his head on her shoulder.

They both held still there. Silence but for their breath mingling in the air. These were the few moments they had together. The only ones they could cobble together in this world Voldemort had built. She owed this man her life, she owed him the lives of so many in her camp. But none of them would ever know. He was her secret, and she was his.

She heard a groan release from his lips as he stood up straight, separating from her. He pulled away, sitting down on her one chair in her little tent. She turned her head to face him and watched as he tucked himself away before he cast a quick scorgify, her thigh pristinely clean once again. She looked him over. He was still wearing his dark robes. Neither of them had bothered removing clothes this time. She put her hands down flat beside her on the desk to balance herself on the edge.

It was silent but for their labored breathing.

Only after a minute or two of silence did he speak, breaking the silence that held over them. "They're coming for a fight tomorrow."

Hermione figured. They'd been at this camp for too long. "We've already begun to move the vulnerable ones from camp. We'll be ready." This is how Draco helped her, how they worked together. She knew the camp would be under attack tomorrow from Death Eaters, so they'd strategize a way to use that to their advantage, set a trap for them. Continue with their guerrilla tactics.

"He's sending Lestrange," Draco said giving her a knowing look.

Hermione felt her stomach twist, "He hasn't sent him out in months."

Draco nodded, "He's thirsty for blood. The Dark Lord already rewarded him for his services to the Cause and told him he could retire, but you know him. He was never quite the same after my Aunt died." Hermione nodded, Lestrange was unpredictable, half-mad, and more than that, deathly dangerous, just like his wife had been. "I'll be there too," he continued emotionlessly, "I'll watch your back."

Hermione nodded as she sighed coming down off the table. She let her legs steady for a moment. "It's getting worse, Draco," Hermione said quietly looking at the tent flap that led to her rebels outside, "I think killing Creevey was a mistake."

"You told me he wanted to start isolating Purebloods," Draco reminded her.

She turned to him, "I know, but it didn't help anything. Things have only gotten worse." Yes, Creevey had suggested to her the separation of blood status amongst the camp. And she knew it was an insane idea. But in her haste, she hadn't made anything better. "They're martyring his death now." The whispers of Creevey's extreme ideas were slowly spreading amongst the camp. "I think we're all going mad. No one is supposed to live in tents, running from death's door. They're growing desperate."

He stood up then placing his hands on her shoulders. It was only with him she could show her fear. She wasn't fucking made for this. She never wanted this. Why did Harry have to die? "You did the right thing, you told me his proposition. He was dangerous." She knew that. And she stupidly thought that if she asked Draco to kill Creevey, his extremist views of purity being the equivalent of evil would die with him. But it only made things worse.

"Who isn't?" Hermione quipped in return looking up at him. He lowered his hands and Hermione sighed turning away from him. "We shouldn't have done it."

"That is how War is, Granger. That is why Potter lost in the first place." Hermione looked back in protest but he pushed on. "He wasn't willing to make the hard sacrifices. He wasn't willing to do what needed to be done to survive, he thought he had the advantage and was careless." Hermione nodded, her gaze on the floor. It wasn't anything he hadn't told her before. That didn't make it any easier to hear.

She took a deep breath to center herself. She couldn't be vulnerable outside the tent. She had to be strong for everyone out there. "I should go," Draco said. Hermione nodded, knowing he couldn't disappear for too long without drawing suspicion. "I'll see you tomorrow," he said sardonically as he walked around the table toward the tent flap. Hermione thought about the plans she needed to put in place, and how they had to take even more caution now that Lestrange was coming as well.

"Wait," Hermione called to him. He paused as she walked around her desk to meet him. He turned around to face her, waiting. Hermione took in a shaky breath. "We made a pact at the beginning of all this," Hermione began. She saw his face drain as she mentioned it, but if Lestrange was coming, she needed his word. She walked around the table, "Tomorrow, if –" Hermione took a shaky breath looking at the floor.

"I'm not going to let anything happen to you," he interjected.

Hermione shook her head and she looked up to him determined. "Tell me you'll do it. Tell me if I get captured, especially by Lestrange, you'll kill me."

"Granger," he said giving her a pained look. She knew. She knew why. They kept each other sane in this. There was no her without him, not in this world, not anymore. The idea of her having to kill him made her feel sick, she didn't think she'd last a day if she knew he would never slip into her tent again.

"You said this is War," Hermione pushed him, "you said we have to do what needs to be done and if tomorrow-"

He raised a hand to cover her lips. Silencing her. She raised her eyes to look at him. His eyes shut. She waited for him. And after a few moments, he finally lowered his hand before he opened his eyes turning to her. She could hear his silent plea to take her words back. If there was any other way, she would have. But she didn't have a choice. "You're the only one I can ask. The only one that will go through with it."

He turned away from her to settle his gaze on the floor. "I know."

"Then tell me you'll do it," Hermione said to him determined. She could see the battle waging in his eyes, but she held firm. Hermione knew she couldn't be tortured. She had seen what happens to prisoners of war. She didn't want that for herself. Every day she knew could be her last, and death was no longer something she feared. She knew that not only was she a muggle-born, but a woman and the leader of the Resistance for the past two years…she couldn't be caught. Not at any cost. She could see the agony in his eyes. She understood. But this was the fucked-up world they lived in, one where she had to depend on a man that kept her sanity, to kill her in order to spare her from the hands of torture. Where death was easy compared to life. Her eyes silently pleaded with him for the favor.

After a minute or two, he tore his eyes away from her. He stepped back from her and she knew she had won the battle. "I promise."

They were intercepting a slave shipment. Prisoners of war and muggleborns that had been enslaved. One of the many archaic rules that Voldemort had put into place after his victory. Hermione took down the Death Eater in front of her as she ran to get closer to the truck holding the hostages.

She saw a Death Eater cornering Dean. The Death Eater wasn't facing her, so it made it easier. "Stupefy!" she screamed as the man fell. Dean and she shared a look, but there was no time for niceties. They both turned and ran toward the truck. Dean's long stride carrying him faster, away from her. She continued after him, closer to the truck that held the hostages. She didn't see many cloaked enemies anymore. It seemed success was on their side tonight.

Thank Merlin.

Hermione continued to run when a Death Eater popped out in front of her. She raised her wand in a dueling stance. He didn't cast a curse, so she cast one instead. He struggled but was able to wave it off. He stepped closer and she stepped back. She threw another curse, and this time the cloaked figure fell back. Hermione ran past him.

But she had only taken a few steps before he popped in front of her again.

Damn persistent.

Hermione began to mutter her next curse when the Death Eater raised his hand to his mask and removed it.

Hermione paused in confusion. The confusion deepened as she saw who the man behind the mask was, his pale blonde hair unmistakable, Draco Malfoy.

His silver eyes meeting her molten brown ones in the darkness of the night. She hadn't seen him since the Battle of Hogwarts. All she knew about him now was that he held a high position in Voldemort's new world, due to his assistance in rounding up people like her. She knew from her years at Hogwarts that he hated her kind. He was a firm believer in the Cause, and he'd probably love nothing more than to torture her for his amusement.

She should hex him into oblivion.

But something stopped her, some small part of her humanity that was still buried deep inside her. Because his gaze was different, it wasn't like the other Death Eaters that she had seen on the battlefield. His eyes held an expression that she understood well. One that she saw often when she herself looked in the mirror. His eyes were... lost.

He stepped toward her.

"Stay the fuck away from me!" Hermione yelled raising her wand, the reality of the situation hitting her again. She shoved her humanity back into the dark place she kept it hidden. Because it didn't matter what the situation was or who he was. It didn't matter what his silver eyes told her.

He was the enemy.

He stopped lifting his empty hands to her, a clear peace offering. "I just want to talk."

Hermione hesitated, but she kept her wand firmly pointed to his chest. "I have nothing to say to the likes of you," she spat.

He nodded, "I know. So just listen." Hermione's eyebrows crinkled in bewilderment. His head turned back, and she followed his gaze. Dean had reached the prisoners. He was helping them escape. She sighed in relief at the accomplishment. She turned back to Malfoy who was right beside her now. "Sorry," he said grabbing her wrist she felt the pull of apparition.

When she snapped out of it, she yanked her arm away from him, slapping him in retaliation. The sound resonating around them. He backed away and she looked around. They were still in the forest, just somewhere more remote.

What the hell was he playing at?

"Sorry, I just needed to get you alone," he said apologetically.

It didn't matter where they were. What mattered was that she needed to get back to Dean. She had to go help her fighters. She didn't have time to play this stupid mind game with a confused and lost boy. She still had her wand for Merlin's sake.

She lifted her wand to apparate when she heard it.

"I want to help," he said quickly to get her attention.

Hermione paused at his words. Her wand lowering a fraction of an inch. Confusion temporarily pushing down her need to return. Her humanity peeking out once again. "Help me what?" Hermione demanded suspiciously.

He sighed, "End the War."

Hermione snapped back from her memory of her first meeting with Draco. She thought often about how fortunate she was that he had come to her that night, not just for her sanity, but for everything else he provided. That meeting had changed everything. She knew that without him, there wasn't even a chance the Resistance would have lasted this long. They had been on their last leg when he agreed to help her. And with his help, their numbers were just starting to grow again. They were more organized, moved better, had information that she never would have dreamed of obtaining. With Draco, they stood as a proper threat to the Dark Lord's rule.

"...And today, we stand for freedom!"

A round of cheers.

"Today, we fight for everything good in this world!"

Scattered applause.

Hermione stood beside Ron as he motivated their small group of Resistance fighters for today's battle. The sky was lightening, signaling dawn was approaching soon. She looked out into the group. Everyone looked so worn, so tired, so beaten. Many of them not even twenty years old, and yet all of them had been through more life than someone four times their age. They were all fighting for survival at this point. Many of them were hollow shells of their former selves.

But in moments like this, despite all the pain and suffering that each and every one of them had gone through, Ron was able to alight something special in their eyes. He was able to bring life to them again. Hermione was the first to admit that even if they wanted to call her the "Leader" of the Resistance, she was merely a cog that made it all run. She had to work with each and every one of them to keep everything going day by day, especially Ron. Ron made the battle plans; he prepared the troops at moments like this. And it was in these moments that Hermione was reminded that he was damn good at it.

"…We fight for our loved ones!"

Wands were raising in unison as the faces around her grew more determined.

Hermione knew if Ron hadn't gone into a depression after Harry had died, that it would have been him that was the Leader today. Sometimes she fantasized about that scenario. When things were hard, she would think about relinquishing the title of Leader to him. How much easier it would be if she could just hand him the wheel, disappear for a few days, possibly forever. What it would be like to not have the entire Resistance hanging on her decisions.

But she knew she couldn't. Too many of them relied on her, trusted her, looked up to her for guidance. She couldn't let them down. A world in which they all didn't depend on her was just a fantasy. One she couldn't allow herself to linger on for too long. Hermione couldn't afford to spend her time wishing for things that could never be, she had to keep her focus on things she could change. And right now, she had to focus on formulating a plan.

The goal for the battle today was to encircle the Death Eaters in the clearing where they now stood, for they soon would be hidden in the forest. Encircle and destroy them all. But Hermione couldn't let that happen. Because if the plan was successful, then she would only have one mission, one that triumphed any other mission that the Resistance fought for today. She had to keep Draco alive. Because she knew that without him, they would all fall into oblivion once again. She looked around the clearing for a sign of escape, for a path that she could open for him if the time was right. But in the darkness, it was hard to discern anything of value.

"Go out there and show them who the Resistance really is," Ron finished his speech as everyone cheered in unison, roaring in applause, hyped and ready to fight.

Ron stepped down off the tree stump he was standing on. Everyone knew their stations. Hermione looked at Ron as he gave her an encouraging smile. She smiled the best she could in reply. Everyone moved into the forest, splitting up with their respective partners. She and Ron walked to their predetermined spot and crouched down in the forest watching the open clearing silently.

"Hermione, I've been thinking about us," Ron said into the quiet. Hermione refused to look at him as she continued to scan for an opening. She didn't want to hear it. He did this every few weeks or so, but he didn't understand, he was too late.

"Not now Ron," Hermione said trying to find a place to save Draco if needed. That was more important right now.

"Then when? Hermione, you're always avoiding the topic, avoiding me. I just want to know what's changed."

Hermione sighed turning to him. He just didn't understand. Nor would he ever understand. Everything changed. It changed when he shut her out, shut everyone out after Harry died. She'd screamed at him and yelled at him to help her, to be there for her. But all he had done was turn away from her in silence. He had left her to fend not only for herself but for everyone else. Everyone had turned to her in the darkness of Harry's death asking her to lead them. All the faces of her Resistance had looked up to her, asking her for guidance, for food, for safety, for protection. And he'd left her all alone to figure it out.

She could see it in his eyes, the same look he'd given her back before everything happened. The same look that used to give her hope and make her heart race in hope that one day he'd feel the same about her as she did him. But now that he was finally open about how he felt, it was too fucking late. Her heart not changing a beat from its slow rhythm at the sight. "Nothing's changed," Hermione said turning away from him, "we're still friends."

She could hear the disappointment in his sigh as he turned away. Hermione knew the frustration; it had been her constant companion for months before Draco found her. Hermione had to admit, that a small part of her wished she could feel the same way about him as he did her. She knew the others in the camp wanted her to. Ginny in the quiet moments would ask her if she's ready to accept Ron yet. But none of them understood. None of them knew what it was like in those first few months, none of them understood how it was for her to be so absolutely, unequivocally alone.

Hermione sat at the edge of the river. The sun was setting, and she was needed at camp. But she just needed some time to herself. Time to just be Hermione Granger. Hermione didn't know if it was pathetic or not that she used the excuse of bathing to just take a break from it all, from all their eyes, from all their needs. She loved each and every one of the Resistance fighters, but that didn't mean it was easy to look at them every day and lie that everything would be alright. She looked up at the sky and asked herself for what felt like the millionth time why was she here? Why was she chosen as the one for this? She didn't even know anymore if she was doing a good job or just mucking the entire thing up.

She heard something stir in the forest. She drew out her wand. But before she could even stand she recognized the figure. She lowered her wand before looking around to make sure no one else was around. "Have you lost it?" she asked Draco. He came to her side sitting down beside her as Hermione cast a disillusionment spell around her. It was only then she turned to him. "Someone could have seen you," she chastised him.

"I waited until sunset," he replied as if that was good enough.

Hermione sighed sitting back down beside him in their little bubble, the sounds of the forest dimmed around them now. She looked him over, he looked more desolate than usual today. She didn't know what to think of that, but then again, who was she to comment on how he appeared today? She probably looked just as shit as him. She moved closer to him so that they were touching, her left side against his right. She felt her nerves dissipate with that simple touch. "What's wrong, Draco? Did they find our location?" she asked him.

He shook his head, "No. Nothing new on that front."

It was clear to Hermione that something was wrong. But then again, when was anything right in this world? She wanted to speak, but he didn't seem to want to talk today. So, she sat beside him quietly. Because that was enough. There was something about being with him that just made everything easier for her. Like someone in this fucked up world understood that life was a fucking nightmare. Understood her struggles.

"It's my birthday," he said then into the silence.

Hermione stiffened as she turned toward him. She opened her mouth to wish him a happy birthday, but the words wouldn't come out. What was so happy about it? She understood why he was here now. He probably didn't want to be alone today. Hermione sat up as she lifted a hand to turn his face to hers. His eyes shut at her touch. She pressed her fingers into him. "I'm sorry," was all she could say.

His eyes opened and he gave her the smallest smile that didn't reach his eyes. "It's not your fault, Granger," he tried to say it lightly, but the tone didn't quite hit right.

She knew she couldn't make the world better for his birthday. She couldn't fix anything in their shit lives. But she could do something for him. Something they both probably needed. She leaned forward and she placed her lips to his. He was still for a few seconds before returning the kiss. His hand wrapping in her hair as he pulled her closer. The kiss grew more heated, as they always did between them. And it wasn't long before they both struggled to remove their clothing. She pulled away from him as she struggled to remove her pants while he zipped down his, and that was enough. He pressed her down into the earth as she parted her legs. Without a moment to lose, he entered her in one fluid motion. And for that one moment in time, the two of them forgot the world around them.

"Have you even thought about us?" Ron asked interrupting her thoughts. Hermione tensed. Of course, she had. She loved Ron. And she needed Ron for the Resistance. He was her Second-In-Command. He was a great fighter in battle, and she knew how much easier her life would be if she gave into him, chose him. It was cleaner. It was what everyone expected from her. It was less dangerous. But then her mind would think back to Draco, how he made her feel. How he understood everything. How she could tell him anything and he would just fucking understand. He more than she understood that life was fucking hard. He knew the same as she that life wasn't what you make it but dealing with the hand that you are dealt. And even when Hermione tried to convince herself that Ron was the one that she was meant to be with, the one she had been waiting for to turn the corner, or that Draco was just there until Ron returned to her, she knew deep down it was all... bullshit. Because it was glaringly obvious to Hermione that the man that her head told her was right wasn't the one that had kept her heart sane when she needed him most.

"Of course, I have," she said returning to her previous task as she looked out before them. She spotted it then, a small opening in the trees. A place Draco could easily disappear if she allowed him the chance. She had to get there if the plan succeeded. Draco had to survive, for all of their sakes.

She heard another sigh beside her. And nothing more was said between them about it.

Hermione heard a rumble of synthetic thunder above her.

"They're here," Ron whispered.

Hermione was dueling for her life. She had pulled Lestrange away from the group in an effort to give them all time to escape. It hadn't gone as planned. Ron had screamed at her not to do it, but she hadn't listened to him. There were just too many, more than they could have possibly expected. They were outmatched, and she needed to give the others a fighting chance to escape. She knew she was the perfect bait.

Lestrange lived up his reputation. His spells were growing progressively darker in nature and Hermione was struggling to keep him at bay. It was clear when he arrived on the field that all he wanted was to destroy. He didn't care which side he hurt in the process. A dark spell emerged from his wand as she screamed the counter curse into the air holding her wand steady as his curse battled hers for dominance before she was able to diverge it off. "Might as well give up now, mudblood," he barked to her. "You're a walking corpse as it is."

She screamed a curse at him, and he waved it off easily. He was getting closer. She stepped back. "I came on this special mission to specifically capture you," he said with a demented smile. "How do you think the Dark Lord will reward me?"

Hermione didn't reply as she sent another curse at him. A powerful one that she felt might have a chance at containing him. It took him a bit longer to work his way out of it.

She heard a snapping branch drawing her attention from Lestrange, breaking her concentration. She saw another hooded figure approaching her from behind, a spell flying her way. She rolled on the ground to dodge it. She stood up, the two Death Eaters on opposite sides of her. She waited as they each took a step closer, closing in.

They both cast curses at her in unison, as she screamed a protection spell. She heard the sounds of the forest dim around her as the spells hit her invisible shield, charging its magical properties. She held onto the spell as best she could before she twisted the magic to throw back at her attackers.

She saw them fly back away from her as she turned and ran. She had to get away. She ran into the forest, but she had only taken a few steps when Lestrange popped back in front of her. She threw a spell at him, but he waved it away easily. She scrambled back. "Cute spell, not quite effective though," he mocked.

Hermione took another step back as he muttered an incantation of dark magic. She threw up the same protection spell, but she watched in horror as it pierced through her protective armor easily. She dodged it best she could, but it hit her in the left shoulder, the pain radiating immediately as she fell back onto the forest floor.

He cackled as Hermione got to her knees to throw a spell at him, to keep him away. The pain in her shoulder shooting through her left arm as she did. "Like it?" he asked, "a little bit of dark magic for you."

Hermione grit her teeth as she threw out another spell. It was weak though as she felt the pain shoot through her entire left side. The curse was clear: the stronger the spell, the more pain. He laughed at her efforts. Terror came down on her hard as she tried to concentrate for one spell that could deter him, one spell that could save her from this. But before she could mutter the incantation, she felt something strike against the back of her head as she hit the floor dazed.

It was only when she felt her wand being pulled from her grasp, she awakened enough to scream and fight for it back.

A kick to the gut was the reply.

She keeled back, folding in half in pain. She heard laughter above her. She looked up to see the other Death Eater had been responsible for the blow to the back of her head. She hadn't even heard him coming. Too focused on Lestrange to watch her own back.

Stupid. Stupid. Stupid.

She watched as he removed his mask, Blaise Zabini.

She was caught.


She tried to move back away best she could on one functional arm, but she felt Lestrange's hand on her ankle pulling her back to them. Her head snapped back in the shock of it. Still throbbing from Zabini's blow to her head. She felt something distort her vision. She touched her forehead to see blood. Her world spinning as she tried helplessly to get up, to fight.

"And they said it was hard to catch a mudblood," Lestrange teased looking down at her. She felt a foot on her throat pushing her back down onto the floor. Sinking the mud and foliage of the forest floor against her. She lifted her hands, struggling to push Lestrange off her neck to breathe.

"What shall we do with it?" Lestrange asked stepping down on her further. She gasped as the wind left her lungs.

"I think we should have a little fun with her first. Show her the rightful place for mudbloods such as herself. Especially mudbloods that act out."

They snickered to each other as Hermione felt their words fuel her with the adrenaline. She used an elbow to knee Lestrange in the shin in one final attempt to escape. It worked as she took a breath, fear propelling her to turn and scramble away. She needed to escape.

She felt a hand in her hair as it grabbed her, the pain shooting straight down her entire body. Lestrange pulled her back to the two of them. "You're going to fucking pay for that," she heard Lestrange mutter into her ear.

She struggled but it only tripled the pain in her scalp.

"Easy, Lestrange."

Hermione paused. She knew that voice. She turned to the sound to see Draco. His mask was removed. She couldn't help but sigh in relief. He didn't look at her. But as Hermione looked around, she realized the situation was much direr than she had thought. She felt a sense of horror settle over her as she saw Death Eaters gathering around her like a pack of dogs. The battle was over. "She's to be taken directly to the Dark Lord," Draco said chastising.

Hermione felt her face drain at that realization. She was the prize of the battle. She twisted to try and get away ignoring the pain in her scalp. It was then she felt a wand jutting into her throat. Hermione felt Lestrange crane her neck back to look at him. "You might be spared for now, but when the Dark Lord is done with you, I'm going to request to finish the job," he hissed into her ear. He twisted her arm behind her back painfully and she bit her tongue to not give him the satisfaction of yelping in pain. She couldn't go to see Voldemort. She knew that. That would be out of the question. There was only one option for her now. She looked to Draco; he was the last resort.

He was standing in front of her. His eyes refusing to meet hers. "Draco," she cried in anguish, "please," she said trying to get him to remember their pact.

He'd promised.

"Look, Malfoy, it's begging for your help," Lestrange said amused. Hermione ignored him focusing her gaze on Draco's. She waited, waited too damn long for his eyes to finally land on hers, they were apologetic for a fraction of a second before steeling over once again. He turned away from her and she instantly knew what that meant.

He wasn't going to do it.

He promised her.

"Malfoy!" she screamed again trying to break free as she felt her arm almost leaving her socket. He stopped but didn't turn back as she felt herself being pulled in the opposite direction. "You bastard!" she screamed fighting the hold that was one her. "No! Malfoy! You can't do this to me! You can't let this - Drac–" she screamed as apparition pulled her away.

Draco watched in horror. This was why he knew this world that the Dark Lord was building would never work. It was moments like this. Moments like this that the people around him believed were normal, acceptable behavior. He could almost retch at the sight.

Draco had tried at the beginning. He had tried to believe in the Cause especially when it all settled into place and it was clear that his side had won. He told himself that this was just the new normal, and that was okay. He was a Malfoy. Their house never died; his only job in this new world was to survive. It didn't matter that the world was falling around him. It would work itself out.

But it was moments like this that had convinced him. It was moments like this that proved to him how right he was to go to Hermione and help her in the small ways that he could. Because this was all so wrong. It was demented and twisted, some dark fantasy that was brought out by an evil man with no conscience.

She was being tortured for everyone to see. Worst yet, everyone around him was watching in delight. There were shouts of encouragement, glee, and telling the mudblood bitch that she was getting what she deserved.

Draco wanted to cover his ears from her screams as she writhed on the floor of the Ministry of Magic. Voldemort laughing in glee at her pain. Draco wanted to look away. He wanted to leave, or die, or beg to be her fucking replacement. Something, anything just to make it stop. It was all so wrong. What he'd give to watch this entire evil sanctum burn to the fucking ground.

He had failed her today. He hadn't been able to protect her. He always protected her. It wasn't his fault, he tried to reason. It was Weasley refusing to fucking yield. Weasley had been hunting Draco down like he was the Dark Lord himself. It was Weasley who didn't know who the real fucking enemy was. It was Weasley's fault that she was on the floor screaming.

"Draco, please."

Her words haunted him. He knew the truth. As much as he tried to shift the blame in his mind, the truth was staring right in front of him.

He was the one that had promised her.

He had told her he'd do it, but when the time came his resolve failed him.

He failed her.

He hadn't even been able to lift his fucking wand to try.

And now she was being tortured in front of the entire Ministry. A camera flashed and Draco knew this all was going far beyond the Ministry. Tomorrow the Prophet would tell the world what happens when one tries to resist against the power of the Dark Lord.

This was his fault.

How could she have asked him though? How could she have thought he was capable of doing that, of kill her? He couldn't. If she thought he could be the one to kill her, she had asked the wrong man.

Draco was in the middle of a battle as he trailed after Hermione like he always did. Their agreement had been in place for about four months now. He protected her in battle, and she protected him. They did what needed to be done, and he would help her succeed. The goal today, to steal food rations. Draco confunded one of her people to ignore his presence, as he drew closer to her. The more Draco spent in this perverse world one fact became more and more clear.

Hermione Granger had to live.

She was the light for the Revolution, she was their beacon of hope. She had to survive if any of it had a remote chance of stopping the destruction the Dark Lord was ensuing on the world.

She threw a powerful hex at Zabini sending him flying back. Good. He never liked Zabini. He continued to trail after her, only engaging when others engaged him. In the chaos, no one was ever able to tell where spells came from. Draco scanned the field when he saw it. Greg was lining up a dark spell to hit Hermione. Draco realized he was at a poor angle to stop him. He tried to call out to him to distract him, but Greg was too focused.

Draco lifted his wand and before he knew it, it was done.

Greg lay stone dead on the floor.

And Draco had been the one to kill him.

The realization washed over Draco as he ran over to Greg. His knees buckled as he knelt beside Greg and removed his mask. The glassy eyes of death staring back up at him. Draco trembled at the realization. He'd just killed his childhood friend. He looked up and saw Hermione had made it, she had made it to the food rations, and they were all disappearing. His eyes watched her and for a split second their eyes connected.

He'd just killed his best friend, for her.

She looked away and Draco looked back down at the body beside him. What had he done?

It was only when Draco analyzed the opposite situation that he came to understand why he had done it. It was then that he had realized how much she truly meant to him. Not just to the world. Not only did the entire fucking world depend on her for its possible salvation, but so did he. He also desperately needed her to survive. Her life just meant more. Her life meant more than anyone's, even his.

He'd slipped into her tent later that night. He had known where they had made camp, she always told him. He had slipped in and she had been sleeping. He'd looked down at her peaceful form and his heart had twisted violently in his chest at the thought of her having been the glassy-eyed one on the battlefield today. He had shuddered at the thought. And Draco knew at that moment he couldn't lie to himself anymore. He couldn't pretend any longer that he wasn't living this life for any other reason but her.

He had almost lost her, and the fear that had struck him was cold, fast, and ruthless. He had looked down at her, thankful for what he had done. Thankful he had saved her. He had leaned down and had kissed her gently at the realization. He knew he could never have her, but in the darkness of the tent, it was easy to forget.

To his surprise, she had stirred awake. He had pulled back, but she had held onto him. Their eyes had connected as she had pulled him close. "Thank you," she had whispered.

She knew.

She fucking knew what he had done to protect her.

She had always been too smart to let anything get past her. She had held him close as she pulled herself up on the bed. He'd watched to see what she would do. She had looked at him thoughtfully. Then with a determined face, she had brought her lips back to his. He'd jumped in surprise, confused as she had continued to move her lips against his. She'd taken his hand and laid his palm on her chest, over her breast, her body pressed against his. His breath had caught at the contact. He had pulled his lips from hers and had looked up to meet her gaze. The moment he had the intention had been clear.

They both needed this.

His lips had pressed into hers then, her mouth parted and she had returned the kiss eagerly, impatiently as he climbed onto the bed with her. Her legs spreading as he had slid between them.

They both had given in to their desires that night.

Draco didn't know if love was the right word for it. Love sounded happy, and soft, and associated with good. What they had was raw, desperate, and carnal. What he did know was that he needed her. She kept him fighting each day. He put on the mask and smiled through the horror of his life so that he would have another chance to see her.

And here she was now. In front of him, dying, right in front of his eyes. And it was all because of him. He stepped closer to the fray as the Dark Lord eased his torture. Laughter was bursting from the crowd around her as she lay there, gasping for air, throat raw from screaming, broken, bleeding. After a few moments, she scrambled to sit up. It wouldn't be long before the taunts ended, and it all continued. He'd seen it too many times before.

It was his fault. He should have killed her.

But he couldn't.

He couldn't kill her. The idea of her dead corpse haunted his mind, squeezing his chest.

Killing her meant he wouldn't survive in this world. No one would believe him on the Resistance that he was there to help. No one would trust him as she did. He didn't want anyone else's trust but hers. He knew that without her the entire world would delve into darkness. He'd rather watch the entire world burn than to see it come to pass. Fuck, he'd let it all burn down if he could just save her from this torture. Because one thing was clear in all of this, without her, there was no him.

He looked at the Dark Lord as the realization dawned on him.

She was his lifeline.

If she died, then so would he.

Hermione heaved as the Cruciatis curse was lifted. She felt her body aching in pain from the torture, her mind throbbing from her screams. "Come now, mudblood, if you beg, I might be inclined to be a kind Lord to you yet."

Hermione knew it was all a bunch of bullshit. It didn't fucking matter if she begged him to spare her until her tongue fell off. He would torture her until she lost her sanity, or she died. That was how he did it. She'd seen it too many times. Her mind was to be broken, and when that was done, her hollow body would be sold to the highest bidder for torment until it broke as well. She knew her fate.

She was starting to lose her grip. She could feel the darkness setting in at the corner of her vision. She knew it wouldn't be too much longer. She had already come to terms with the fact that her life as Hermione Granger would be over soon.

She scanned the room to see all the hooded Death Eaters around her. She looked for Draco. She was furious at him, mad at him for not going through with his promise. She didn't think she would ever forgive him for sentencing her to this fate. He betrayed her; he betrayed her trust. And yet despite the fact that he had condemned her to this death... she still wanted to see him one last time.

Voldemort lifted her in the air with magic, her hands pushed down to her sides, legs caged, everything frozen but from the neck up as he brought her up to him, eye to eye. "I won't ask again, mudblood," his voice dripping in pleasure, "Beg."

Hermione spat and she watched her blood-tinged sputum hit his face with satisfaction.

The retaliation was swift as he grabbed her neck. Hermione smirked, as her voice, raw from screaming, croaked to him into the silence of the room, "I'll see you in hell."

He threw her down on the floor as the spell released from her. She turned around, rolling onto her belly. She wanted to force him to kill her. She began to use her arms to drag herself on the floor away from him, unable to feel much of her body. It was damn slow, but she had nothing else to live for. "That can be arranged, mudblood," he laughed as the others joined in.

It was then she heard it. Those two words. Those deranged and yet beautiful words that she had heard too many times to count. The ones that had brought Harry to his parents, and the one that would send her to see him as well. She had succeeded. Death compared to her future, was easy.

She went limp as she waited for the spell to hit.

But it didn't.

She looked down and still saw her raw, bleeding hands in front of her. She turned back to her torturer to hear a loud thud followed by the sound of wood clattering on the cold stone floor. She watched in disbelief as the Elder Wand rolled toward her. Voldemort's cold marble corpse lying before her.

She looked up to see the guilty party. Everyone looking around not understanding what just happened. But she knew the wand of the man that stood facing Voldemort's now lifeless body. She knew the wand of the man that had just succeeded in the one goal she had for the past two years.

"What have you done!" she heard Lestrange's voice from behind her as the chaos began to ensue. Wands were being pulled out to destroy the man that killed their leader. Hermione scrambled; she couldn't let that happen. Grabbing the Elder Wand, she cast a powerful curse straight at Lestrange. She watched as it hit him square in the chest. She felt a dull ache in her shoulder, but it was bearable.

She got up, her broken body aching at use. She ran on pure adrenaline toward him. He met her halfway throwing a curse out past her head as she met him. He pulled her up beside him as she looked around at the crazed looks and silver masks around her. She felt her legs under her again as she moved to stand without his help. She pressed her back to his, the stolen wand out in front of her to fight. She had a wand again and that meant it started again.

She wasn't going down without a fight.

She'd been given this chance and she was going to make them kill her this time.

There were so many of them. So many of them surrounding her and Draco. She threw out curses wildly.

No, she told herself. She couldn't take the easy way out. She had to survive. She couldn't die she realized, because she had to protect him.

A powerful spell whizzed through the air and she threw up a protection spell. So many curses were flying at the two of them. It was overwhelming. It didn't help that she was trying to use a wand that didn't want to obey her. She could feel it resisting her for not being its rightful owner. She held onto it anyway. It had to obey her. Just one battle, she reasoned with the possessed piece of wood.

It was then a spell was uttered that brought fear into her heart.


Hermione watched as the dragon that erupted from the wand began to consume all it touched, it snaked around everyone in the Ministry as people ran for their lives. The fire was hot and thick and dark. So much dark magic. Her protection spell beginning to fail as the fire licked at it. It wouldn't hold much longer. Her stomach pitted as she watched the fire scorch the hooded enemies, each one screaming as they disintegrated into ash. Hermione turned to Draco, grabbing him as he silently watched the fruits of his labor. "What have you done? You just killed us all," Hermione screamed knowing there was no apparition into or out of the building.

He didn't say anything as the fire continued. No one was paying attention to them any longer as the fire encircled them, sparing the two of them, for now.

What a stupid thing he did. They were trapped. She gasped for air, her protection spell slowly fading. She could feel the oxygen beginning to leave her lungs. The thick smoke was hovering above them, like a hot impenetrable blanket. The heat growing as sweat traced her brow.

Draco turned to her, his free hand grabbing her at the waist. She looked to him in confusion when she saw that look in his eyes, the one she'd seen a thousand times. He pulled her close, his lips locking into hers. She returned the kiss in the confusion, the heat, the sweat. Hermione kissed him passionately, hungrily, desperately. She knew the same as him that this was the end. And if that meant that she was going to die in his arms, with his lips on hers, that would be okay. That was a peaceful death. His tongue traced hers as he pulled her closer for one last taste.

When they parted, he placed his forehead against hers, and she closed her eyes knowing that they would be going to a better place. The other place she had been so jealous of for so long. But now that she knew it was calling her, a fear sparked in her heart. She hoped she would meet him there.

He pulled back an inch, his hand rising to cup her face, "I'm sorry I didn't..." he trailed off softly. She shook her head, not needing to hear the rest of it. She saw the broken man in front of her and looked into the same silver eyes that had drawn her to him even that very first night. The eyes that she looked into when he held her close, the same ones that kept her sane. The only eyes she could show her true self to. She felt her heart pound in her chest, and she knew for the first time what exactly this need was between them. Her heart aching, knowing that the two of them never even had a chance to watch it grow. Hermione leaned into his touch as she raised her fingers to touch his. The smoke thickening between them.

It was then he paused. A thoughtful look on his face. Hermione saw he was looking at the Elder Wand still between her fingertips. He smiled, "Not all, just them." Hermione didn't quite understand as he pulled her into his chest. She held him tight; she loved him. And if this was the end, she didn't want to be anywhere else but right here. She felt his hand wrap around her wand hand.

And holding her still close she felt the pull of apparition.

They landed just outside the steps of the Ministry, both of them falling on their knees as they heaved for oxygen. Coughing out the smoke in her lungs, Hermione's knees gave way as the Elder Wand dropped from her fingertips clattering on the stone floor. The cool wind bathing over her sweat-stained body, sending shivers down her spine. Realization slowly tracing over her as she looked up to see the smoke begin to rise from the burning Ministry building.

They'd escaped.

She watched in fear, horror, and awe as the fire roared its way through the building, her only glimpse inside the still-open front doors.

She turned to Draco, still breathing heavily. He turned and looked to her as well. They shared a look of disbelief. She looked back to the Ministry as the flames began to peak through the building. The building that represented everything wrong with the world. It represented the world's current state. It had been marred by the Dark Lord, a representation of his oppression, his rule. She watched it burn.

She heard a scream behind her before it was quickly silenced. She saw in her periphery people gathering around them. Everyone watching in a sort of quiet unity as the building was engulfed in violent, fiery flames. The roar of the fire, burning wood and stone were the only sounds to be heard.

Everyone silently watching Voldemort's world slowly burn to the ground. The smoke carrying high above them for all the world to see.

Hermione reached out to Draco. She felt for his fingertips. When she found them, he entwined them with hers, and together they continued to watch the madness and chaos in front of them. The smoke was getting heavier once again as the fire approached them, but she couldn't look away. She didn't dare to look away.

Because it was so damn beautiful.

A tear fell on Hermione's cheek and she lifted a finger to touch the foreign moisture.

As she looked down at her finger, understanding dawned on her. Because watching it all burn, a feeling that hadn't visited Hermione in over two years finally met her once again – peace.

Hermione walked over to the window to greet the small owl that had a letter hanging from its leg. She smiled as the little owl pushed his leg toward her impatiently. "I'm trying my best, hold still," she teased the creature. She finally got the letter free before she handed the owl a snack. He took it before flying off. Hermione smiled recognizing the handwriting. She walked outside onto her patio that overlooked the sea. She sat down on her small patio chair as she broke the seal.

Dear Hermione,

I still miss you. I just wanted to write to you to say that I won the election. It wasn't by much though. Creevey sympathizers are calling for my head. It doesn't matter to them that I've dedicated my entire life working against Voldemort.

The world is going mad Hermione.

I understand now why you left. Sometimes I think I should have taken the same path. But as ridiculous as it sounds, I feel like it's my turn to take the reins. You see, I was doing some thinking, Hermione. I think it might have been Harry's job to prepare us for the war, your job to lead it, and mine to fix the world when it was all over. I know it might sound crazy, but I think that might be why the world brought the three of us together. And so, I'll try my best to do my part. You and Harry have already done yours.

I've been thinking a lot about Harry recently, especially when I'm with Ginny. I wonder what he'd say if he saw what we did, what you did. The one thing I do know is that he'd be proud of you Hermione.

I hope you return soon.

With all my love,


Hermione folded up the letter as she sat reflecting on his words. She had never looked at it like that before, that each member of the Golden Trio had their part to play. But perhaps it was true, perhaps he was right. The world liked to play stupid cruel games like that.

She heard footsteps but she didn't move. She felt strong arms wrap around her as a chin was placed on her head. "Ron?" he asked.

Hermione nodded as she leaned back in her seat. "We shouldn't have left." She felt the tension in him immediately, but he didn't say anything. Hermione turned her head back to settle her eyes on Draco, "The job wasn't finished."

He looked her over, a hand tracing her cheek gently, "We did our part, Hermione. You know we did." Hermione nodded. She knew it. And she knew she couldn't spend more time trying to fix the aftermath. That was why when it was over, she took Draco and left it all behind. But that didn't mean it was easy to see the world was still crumbling around them. "Do you want to go back?" he asked her, breaking her from her thoughts.

Hermione looked at him, the man that had saved her life, the man she owed more than anyone in this world. And as much as she knew what was right, and what she should do, the truth was always so easy to admit to, "No."

She could hear the relief in his sigh as he smiled softly. She smiled in return. He leaned in and kissed her gently. A simple kiss, one that wasn't fueled by desperation, tension, or even fear. But a kiss born of love.

She loved him more than anything in this world; and she knew he loved her equally as fierce.

Hermione knew the world would never accept the truth of Voldemort's defeat. The Prophet was already twisting history. Any Death Eaters that survived the fire were on the run, and the frightening part was that the tide was changing to oppress all Purebloods in retaliation. The Prophet was reporting Hermione had been the true owner of the Elder Wand. That Voldemort was defeated because he couldn't turn the wand against its master. And in the recoil of his spell, the wand returned to its rightful owner. And what the Prophet wrote would be written for the next generation to see in their history books. The importance that a Draco Malfoy played in the downfall of Voldemort's reign would never be known.

But Hermione knew the truth, and so did Draco. And even if they never discussed it, even if they never mentioned those dark times, their dark history, their dark beginnings, it didn't mean it never happened. Because Hermione knew that in the darkness of the War, they had saved each other.

The Prophet would write their lies, and the world would believe it, but Hermione knew the truth. It wasn't wandlore that had saved the entire world, it had been love.


o o o

o o o

Author's Note: Thank you for reading to the end! I know it was a bit dark, but I still hope you found the ending to be satisfying :)