The forest was dark and quiet, Mina's hastened breath the only sound, as she made her way through the dense undergrowth. Though the night was black - no moon or stars to speak of in the sky, but thick grey cloud's choking out the light - Mina could see clearly. The magic of everything surrounding her was alive in the air, trails of different coloured light that guided her path. Water soaked her thick skirt as she brushed along the leaves, still wet from the rain that had fallen in great sheets that very morning. Mina stilled, hardly able to believe that it had only been that morning when she had lost her friend. The day seemed to have crawled by at such a slow pace, that she felt like weeks had passed, and she had not moved.
The pain of losing Sonyea was still fresh, the wound sore and deep, aching in her chest. More had followed; more witches and wizards, more men women and children. Some of them had never known magic in their entire lives, and yet still they hung.
Mina had shook in Edward's arms, as innocent after innocent was hung, their chokes dense and thick in the air. It didn't take long for the crowd to disperse, once the executioners had exhausted their supply of people to kill, they all simply lost interest. Mina watched in horror as they all simply went back to their day as if nothing had happened as if there weren't a pile of bodies in the centre of their village.
Edward had pulled away, holding the tops of her arms ferociously, and staring deep into her eyes. Mina had caught her breath at the longing, the agony swirling in their blue depths, and everything she had ever felt for the man came rushing back. He'd told her to meet him in the woods after dark, his voice hushed as he leant forward. She'd closed her eyes as she felt his warm breath against her ear. Then he had gone, reluctantly releasing her, and melting into the dispersing crowd as if he had never been there.
She didn't know how long she had stood in the village centre, watching water trickle between the limbs of her fallen brothers and sisters, thinking of Sonyea right at the very bottom; choking, dying, reaching out for help. Mina stopped walking, sucking in greedy breaths as her heart began to race, and her hands shook. With great difficulty she tried to concentrate on happier moments, better things; Sonyea laughing at her when they were children, and the world had no dark corners, no secrets. Sonyea sat at her fire, waiting in the depths of the cave system, a steaming mug of tea in her hands.
Mina pressed her shaking hand against her mouth to stifle the wail of grief that threatened to rise from the depth of her. After a moment, she straightened herself up, taking deep shuddering breaths, and slowly placed one foot in front of the other. She brushed the tears from her cheeks and lifted her head up high.
It wasn't long before she neared the clearing where she and Edward had spoken together many times. Those moments with him seemed like an age ago, like someone else's memories. She paused as she saw him, a small lantern at his feet, it's light casting a small halo. He was gazing at the floor, his forearms resting against his knees, back hunched, as if the weight of the world sat upon his shoulders.
"Mina." He said, looking up into the darkness. She gasped slightly, certain that he couldn't see her, and yet he knew. "I know you're there Mina." He added tiredly, standing up.
With a sigh, Mina stepped into the glow of light, pulling her shawl around her shoulders tighter and eyeing him nervously. Every certainty she'd felt about him seemed to have gone. As if sensing this, Edward sat back down heavily, sadness pulling down the corners of his mouth as he looked up at her.
"You came." He said simply, and Mina nodded, not trusting herself to speak, not knowing what she would say if she did. "I...Your friend.."
"Soneya." Mina's voice was thick with grief as she uttered her friend's name, feeling her bottom lip wobble. Edward looked at her with such sorrow, seeming as though he was going to move toward her, then he stopped, looking back down at the ground.
"I'm sorry." His voice was laden with so much sorrow, that Mina was left in no doubt that he meant it. "Sonyea, she..I owe my life to her." Mina stepped forward slightly.
"What happened? Were you there..were you there when she was caught?" Mina couldn't help the questions rushing out, stopping in shock, placing her hand over her mouth. Edward did not seem bothered by her outburst, only nodding slightly, pushing himself off the log again, and standing on the very edge of his halo of light, looking out into the darkness. Slowly, uncertainly, Edward explained, relaying all that had happened, all that had been said. Mina did not interrupt him, did not move, but simply stared at the back of his head.
"I was dying and she...I don't know what she did but I'm here and…" Edward didn't continue, instead, he turned and looked at Mina. "I would beg your forgiveness if I thought I deserved it." Mina felt anger burning in her gut, felt the desperation to do something, anything to avenge her friend, but she knew that she could not.
"They took her, and you did nothing?" Mina whispered, her hands shaking. Edward hung his head and said nothing.
"You lead those..those demons to where she was hiding, and you did nothing?" Mina stepped closer to him, letting her shawl fall off her shoulder, and onto the dirt behind her, her hands balled into fists.
"And then, when you knew she would be killed, when you could have atoned, you not only stop me from helping but do nothing yourself?"
"They would have killed you." Mina closed the space between them, hitting him over and over, tears painting her cheeks.
"I do not care about my life, do you honestly believe that anything they could have done to me could have been worse, that...than this?"
"Yes." Mina paused as he said this, looking up at him, her heart racing. Edward's face was close to hers, slowly he slid his hand round the back of her neck, fingers threading through her hair, palm resting against her pulse. His thumb gently brushed a tear from her cheek. "You have to understand Mina, I would do anything, give anything to keep you safe." He muttered down at her.
"Even people's lives?" Mina asked, her eyes narrowing at him, wanting to hate him but finding increasingly difficult.
"Anything." Mina went to pull away but he held on.
"Leave me..let me go." At those words, Edward let go, and Mina stumbled back. "How can you speak of people's lives as if they are something you control as if you have a right to take them." Edward sighed, rubbing his hand across his face.
"I do not presume that I have any right, Mina, the opposite in fact. But for you...for you, that doesn't matter."
"Doesn't matter? Doesn't matter? Do you think that such a brutish approach to my protection would persuade me to consider you favourably?" Edward laughed bitterly.
"You think that I do this for favour?"
"Why else would a man force his intentions upon a woman." Edward stared at her open-mouthed for a second.
"Do you hear yourself? There is a war coming, more bloodshed, more hate, more darkness than anything you have ever experienced. And you speak of forcing intentions, seeking favour. Mina, I do this because you are the one good thing in my life. Regardless of how I am affected, what you think or believe of me, I would do anything to keep you from harm."
"My life doesn't matter." Mina bit out, grinding her teeth together. Edward shook his head.
"Do you think, Sonyea would want this." He gestured to Mina.
"Do not...do not speak of Sonyea as if you knew her...she was my friend, how dare you presume to understand what she would or would not have wanted." Edward stepped toward her.
"She gave her life saving me," He pointed at his chest, "and I know she did it for your happiness. She said...she said that you were not safe, that Arden.."
"What about him?" Mina's eyes narrowed.
"That you were not safe with him, that he wishes to go to war." Mina sighed, feeling all the anger leave her in a moment. Even when her own life was still uncertain, Sonyea never ceased to be so achingly Gryffindor. Mina wanted to curl up in a ball and sob. Sonyea was and had always been the better person, and she had been the one to die.
"Mina." Her breath caught as he took her face in his hands, his own dangerously close. "Mina, come away with me, we can….we can get away from this, from this war. It is not ours to fight." Mina shook her head, tears falling from her eyes.
"It is, it is mine." at first she whispered, but her voice grew in strength, and Edward stepped away sighing, "I cannot simply walk away when innocents are being killed. I have to help them."
"No, no you don't." Edward ran his hand through his hair. "You wanted to leave before, you were ready to leave all this behind, what has changed?" Mina stared at Edward and realised that the girl that had made that proposal no longer existed, she had been worn down and out of existence by the agony she had endured.
"Everything." She whispered, walking over to the log and sitting down. She didn't know that there was much more to say, but she did not wish to leave him, not yet.
"Then I will stay," Edward said, after a moment of silence, and Mina looked up at him in shock.
"You do not have to, go, run, be free from all this…"
"You think that I could leave you?"
"You have done it before." Mina bit back, and Edward sighed, sitting next to her on the log.
"I had my reasons, Mina, you must know I would never leave you of my own accord." Mina shot him an angry look and moved away from him, pacing the small halo of light, before looking back at him.
"I do not understand Commander, you deny a woman when she throws herself into your arms, and yet force yourself upon her when she has no wish of you." Anger bubbled in Mina's gut as Edward rolled his eyes and turned away. "Do not look away from me Commander, you will explain yourself." Edward looked amused when he met her gaze.
"Spoken like a true lady." He mocked.
"My friend is dead because of you, and you are making jokes." Mina pointed her finger accusingly at him.
"I am simply pointing out a fact, my lady, I did not mean to offend." He stood from the log and bowed low, then looked up at her pointedly. "Is this how you want to do this, my lady?" He asked, his eyes dark.
"I do not understand?" Mina backed away slightly, feeling a shift in the air, she had made him angry, of that she was certain.
"Do you want to push me away because I hurt you, pretend that there is nothing between us?" He advanced with every word, his voice getting louder, and Mina stumbled back till her back hit the trunk of a tree. For a moment she looked around in panic, then she lifted her chin, hoping to appear as if she were standing her ground.
"There is nothing between us Commander it was you who said…" Her words were cut off as Edward took her face in both of his hands and pressed his lips against hers, pushing her back against the rough bark, his body flush against her own. Mina did not try to deny him, could not, instead her eyes fluttered closed and she kissed him back, pouring all her hurt and frustration into the kiss, grabbing his shirt in fistfuls and pulling him closer.
Mina could have believed that she no longer felt anything for Edward, could have pretended that she did not think of him every day. But with his lips against her own, his breath mingling with hers, his want matching her want, she could not pretend. Everything that had ever been between them, could have been, everything she'd hoped had been, flooded through her body, and flushed her skin.
"Mina." He muttered, breathing heavily as he pulled away from her. Slowly gently he kissed her again, and she slid her hands around his neck. As her eyes slid closed, she knew that she would keep Sonyea's promise, regardless of the danger.
It Hermione a moment to realise she was no longer in the memory, and the lips that were pressed against her own, no longer moving, were, in fact, Draco Malfoys. She froze in shock, her heart beating fast in her chest. She went to slip her hands from around his neck and pull away, wondering if there was a way to behave normally around him after the ordeal.
Suddenly though she froze again, slowly, hesitantly his lips moved against her own, his head tipping slightly. Her mind that usually raced with a whole number of questions and facts, gave her absolutely nothing, apart from one screamingly obvious observation. Draco Malfoy was kissing her.