warnings: violence mentioned.
The world ended and began.
It was all she could do to hold on and not lose herself as magic screamed and screamed and screamed in pain; rippling out in waves of gale force winds that pelted her with debris and lashed at her clothes and skin, whipping her hair wildly about her face and into her eyes. The roar of it was deafening and seemed to resonate through her whole body until her bones ached and her skull felt like it would shatter from the pressure.
Heavy magic pushed the air right out of her chest with the force of a bludger and she gasped for breath, struggling to take in oxygen.
She screamed and sobbed, the sound of her voice lost against the roar of the maelstrom as magic flailed wildly from the centre of the room, large tendrils of energy slashing deep gouges into the stone walls. Sometimes the tendrils would flail toward her, whipping right through her body and burning across her magical core, scorching along her nerve endings.
Another whip cord glanced and sizzled across her back and she arched up, her eyes snapping open at the pain. She turned her stinging eyes away from the pulsing nexus in the middle of the room and chanced a look around.
The ceiling was coming away, the raw force of magic eroding and burning the very stone of the building. Already she could see patches of night sky where the building had just disintegrated.
Movement caught her eye. There. She hunched lower against the cracking pillar she’d anchored herself to. There was someone else there. Wide frightened eyes peered back at her.
Crabbe. Her mind supplied. His white school shirt stained red with blood, his face pale and frightened. A green jumper clad arm slung around his chest kept him huddled against the pitiful shelter of the only other surviving pillar. Slytherin Green. Goyle.
They both looked as terrified as she felt and a pang of irritation forced its way up through her terror. Served them right for getting us all into this mess. Bloody Gits.
Magic gave another giant heave and the sound of cracking stone drew her gaze to the centre of the room. A white hot blaze of fire rose to lick at the vaulted ceiling, the oppressive heat coming from it made the air crackle and burn with every breath.
At the very heart of the inferno she could just make out the image of a man, no a monster, being consumed by the very magic he sought to control. She could see the shadows of his black soul twisting and flailing as they burned to ash.
Soon only bones lay within the blaze, crackling and hissing as they glowed then blackened, crumbling into dust which the fire consumes. If she squinted she could just see the obscene runes he’d carved into his very bones glow them dim forever.
The fire flared outward and she buried her head in her arms again. With nothing left to consume, magic reached for them and she braced herself, sure that death was mere moments away. The pressure grew, flattening her against the cracked stone floor, more and more until it seemed that she would be crushed, her final scream stolen from her lips.
Just when the roaring wind and pressure ceased, leaving behind such an utter silence that it was like a physical thing, solid and heady to the point where she was almost drunk with it.
She could hear a faint keening, as if from a distance. It was only when she turned over to lay on her back that she realized that the sound was coming from her own mouth.
She clasped her hands over her face to muffle the sound because for the life of her she couldn’t stop the harsh sobbing. She felt raw and turned inside out, every muscle weak with exhaustion.
A scrabbling sound broke her from her malaise and she turned her head to see Goyle trying to shuffle Crabbe’s unconscious from behind the now mostly demolished pillar.
In fact most of the stone room was gone, destroyed by the chaotic magic. Only the cracked floor stones and the base of the walls and pillars were left.
Goyls was searching the rubble now, picking though and gingerly tossing aside bits of detritus and glass from the potions bottles they’d been sorting just minutes before. He picked up what was left of a wand, blackened from the heat and petrified from the magic being sucked right out of it.
It crumbled to dust in his hand and he cursed. She chuckled mirthlessly and he turned towards her.
“Still alive there Granger” he rasped, his voice gravelly from the chokehold he’d been held in not half hour ago. She could still see the imprints of Riddle’s skeletal hands on the pale skin of his neck.
She nodded and pushed herself unto her elbows.
“Not for lack of trying on your part, bloody git”
She almost didn’t recognize her own voice. Too much screaming from the crucios and what not, her mind supplied numbly.
Goyle shrugged and went back to searching through the debris and she gingerly pulled herself to lean on the cracked stump of her own broken pillar.
The pop of apparition made the both freeze. Someone had come. Another pop had them looking at each other, an unspoken agreement passed between them.
The riotous magic may have destroyed everything magical within the immediate area but they’d be damned if they didn’t defend themselves by any other means.
Goyle grabbed one of the larger shards of glass he could find and she a good sized rock. One last wave of adrenaline got her to her feet and they stood together over Crabbe’s still form.
A few more pops now, voices getting closer. She tightened the grip on her rock, there was no place for them to hide and if they ran they would have to leave Crabbe behind to face his fate alone and the look on Goyle’s face told her that he was not budging from this spot.
She briefly contemplated leaving them both as they were the ones who’d gotten her into this cluster fuck but they were also the reason she was still alive so she owed them.
The voices were closer and she calculated their odds if the newcomers were death eaters, the ministry or Dumbledore’s old crowd. None of the choices were ideal the boy-who-lived’s girl wonder and two death eaters in training so she readjusted her grip on her rock again and ran over her mental notes on wandless apparition and port key making as the voices grew even nearer.
“Halt” came a voice from the darkness.
A tall cloaked figure stepped forward, his wand trained on them. Two other hooded figures stepped from the shadows and one of them muttered a lumos.
Goyle’s glass shard flashed in the pale light and she chose her first target. If she could know out the one with the lit wand, they could use the few seconds’ distraction to flee. She was fairly sure she could side-along apparate them both straight to St. Mungo’s just in case they splinched themselves. And for Crabbe of course.
“Halt I say,” the fist wizard repeated, “Auror Divison. What are you…. Wait a minute… Hermione? Hermione Granger is that you?”
He whipped off his hood and she sagged in relief.
“Kingsley” she rasped, dropping the rock.
She put a hand on Goyle’s arm, feeling him tense under her palm.
“We’ve been looking for you ever since Ron and Harry reappeared in Hogsmeade”
“They’re safe then?” relief in her voice. “I knew that would work”
He nodded, his eyes narrowing as he took in Goyle and his shard of glass.
“They said that two Slytherin Boys had tricked you three into grabbing a port key. What’s this all about then?”
Muscled bunched under her hand.
“They saved my life” she spoke into the night air, squeezing Goyle’s arm as he gave her an unreadable look, reluctantly dropping the shard.
Shacklebolt raised an eyebrow at her.
More Aurors appeared out of the darkness, wands trained on the Slytherin boys.
“They aren’t Death Eaters” she blurted, unable to stop herself. “Voldemort’s dead. He was going to kill me and they saved my life. He even tried to kill them.”
She pushed up the sleeve of Goyle’s green jumper to reveal smooth unblemished skin. She had to make the Aurors understand. She owed it to Crabbe and Goyle.
“You see...No dark mark , they aren’t Death Eaters.”
“I know” came Kingsley’s calm reply.
“They… I … Wait. What?” she stuttered to a halt.
Goyle swallowed painfully “How?” his voice worsening.
Kingsley dropped his wand arm and tucked it into his holster though they noted that the other Aurors kept their wands trained at the teens.
“I know you’re not a Death Eater because twenty minutes ago, every person that had the dark mark tattooed on their skin dropped dead in their tracks.”
“Oh” she squeaked.
She let her legs fold under her and sank to the ground, her hand still clutching Goyle’s jumper sleeve as he let out a noise of disbelief.
“Oh” she repeated. “I think i need to sit now ”
And with that, Hermione Granger, smartest witch of her age and best friend of harry Potter, well read, verbose and fluent in four languages including Klingon, had nothing more to say.