A/n: Wow, when I said review last time, I had no idea I'd get such a response! Thank you all SO much! My goal is to reach 100 reviews (a previously unreached goal) by the completion of this story. For two more chapters-well, one chapter and the poem-that's only fourteen more. Come on guys, don't let me down!

Destiny's Triumph-Part 2

Harry awoke suddenly. The room around him was quite dark compared to the late afternoon light it had been filled with when he'd fallen asleep. He sat up and put on his glasses, looking around. Everything around him seemed normal. The hospital wing was silent and still around him. Madam Pomfrey was nowhere to be seen. The Grangers were still by their daughter's bed. Mrs. Granger was sitting by her, watching her in silence, while Mr. Granger took his turn sleeping on the bed next to Hermione's.

Try as Harry might, he couldn't seem to find the logic behind his waking up. No sound had startled him, or any dream as Madam Pomfrey had given him a Dreamless Sleep potion before he'd nodded off. He shook it off and was lying back down to return to his sleep when he heard a faint rustling from beside him.

He turned his head and looked over. Hermione, who had before been lying on her back, was now on her side facing him. He was out of his bed and standing over her before he realized he'd moved. Mrs. Granger had put her hand on her daughter's shoulder and was calling back to her husband, "Dan! Dan, she's waking up!"

Before long, all three of them were standing over her. Mr. Granger loomed tall in front of his wife, looking down at his daughter in concern. Mrs. Granger and Harry remained on the other side, watching Hermione with a blank expression. I knew she was going to wake up, he thought suddenly. It was why I woke up. But how could I have known that?

Harry's search for an answer to his question ended as Hermione's eyes fluttered open. The first person she saw was Harry. His presence seemed to register with her, but she was confused and quickly rolled over onto her back again. She saw her parents.

"Mum?" she whispered, her voice very faint and scratchy. "Dad?"

"Oh, Hermione!" sobbed Mrs. Granger, wrapping her arms around a very confused Hermione.

Hermione looked at her father, who was giving her a watery smile. "What's going on?" she asked. Harry barely heard her. Remembering the difficulty he'd had speaking when he'd first awakened, he picked up the glass of water by her table and handed it to her once Mrs. Granger had pulled back. Hermione accepted the water and drank some, but was still confused.

"What's the last thing you remember, honey?" asked Mr. Granger gently, sitting down beside his wife on the edge of her bed.

She seemed to be thinking. "Green light," she finally whispered, shaking her head a little like she was clearing away unnecessary thoughts. "A lot of green light . . . and I was in a lot of pain . . . Harry's voice and . . ." Her eyes widened. She looked over at Harry as though seeking confirmation that it had all been real. Harry nodded grimly.

Hermione looked scared now. "What's happened since?" she asked, almost panicking. "Voldemort, where is he? And Ron . . ."

All these questions were directed at Harry. Her parents tried to calm her down but she refused to be quieted before she got her answer. Harry tried to smile but felt more like crying as the events in the Chamber came back to him, unable to be held back any longer. "He's gone, Hermione. You did it. And Ron's safe. He's doing the best of us all."

Hermione nodded. The memories had come back to her though and they could all see that she had become more distant than before.

"Do you remember everything that happened?" asked Mrs. Granger soothingly, brushing her fingers through Hermione's hair.

Hermione nodded, staring down at her hands. "What about . . ." she started to ask, then trailed off. She continued a moment later in an even softer tone. ". . . Lucius Malfoy?"

This time Harry had no good news to give her. He shook his head. "They haven't caught him. They caught Wormtail, though, and Sirius has been cleared. The Ministry is pulling itself back together and they're catching all sorts of Death Eaters. It's just a matter of time before they get him, too."

"Who is this Lucius Malfoy?" asked Daniel Granger, taking his daughter's hand. "I've heard his name a lot. What's his part in all this?"

Hermione looked startled at her father's question. Harry answered his question. "Dumbledore wanted you to tell them what's happened," he said. Hermione said nothing to this. Harry decided not to press her and looked to her father. "Do you remember the man Arthur Weasley got into a fight with in Diagon Alley when you took Hermione to the bookshop?"

Daniel seemed to be thinking. Slowly, he nodded. "The man that was insulting his family's financial status."

Harry nodded. "That's him. His son is Draco Malfoy. You've probably heard Hermione talk about him." Harry and Hermione's eyes locked. Harry hesitated before saying aloud the thought that seemed to pass between them. "Draco's not like his father, though."

Daniel seemed oblivious to the look that passed between the two. "Hermione," he asked, "did this Lucius Malfoy hurt you?"

Hermione did not move for a moment, and then nodded. She didn't look at her father's reaction, but Harry did. He could tell the only thing keeping the man from saying anything in anger was his daughter's fragile state.

"And the explanations begin. I should have known that they were of the inevitable sort-they would begin when they were ready, whether I gave clearance or not. I suppose it's time, then."

Once again, Dumbledore had surprised them by entering without making a sound. He walked over and all of them focused on him. Dumbledore looked at Harry. "Why don't you and I go ahead and collect Ron and his family. We should give Miss Granger some time with her parents to explain what's happened. Then we can all regroup and the questions you all have will be answered. One step at a time, though."

Hermione looked alarmed. "No. Please, I can't talk about it yet . . . I've only just woken up . . ."

To their misfortune, Madam Pomfrey managed to arrive just in time to hear Hermione's last words. She stared at them all, shaking her head. "What are you subjecting these children to now, Headmaster? I mean no disrespect, of course, but Miss Granger is extremely weak. She is as weak now as Mr. Potter was when you first brought him in! She's up to nothing more than eating, drinking and sleeping."

Dumbledore gave her a calming smile. "Now, Poppy, do calm down. Miss Granger has indeed been through a terrible ordeal, but I feel it's best to have such ordeals be spoken of while they are still fresh. It will only become a heavier burden later. Besides that, I think these children have waited long enough to find out about what has gone on. They've been at the center of it all from start to finish. No one deserves answers more than they do. Miss Granger can speak with her parents. Harry will walk with me to gather Mr. Weasley. Poppy, you look as though you could use a cup of tea. Why don't you go ahead and get Sirius for me, then go down to the kitchens and get some dinner."

"Headmaster, do you intend to take every one of my patients out of here tonight? And I can't leave-I have others to watch!"

Dumbledore continued to smile but there was now an order lurking in his cheerful tone. "Miss Granger should have some privacy while she talks. I will have Minerva watch over the other patients while you are gone. Go get Sirius, then tell Minerva to come down here. Okay?"

Madam Pomfrey gave in. She shook her head, muttering about how no one would let her do her job, and turned to go do as the Headmaster had instructed. Hermione looked at Dumbledore. "Really, Professor, I appreciate what you're trying to do but . . . I don't think I'm ready to-"

"Just tell them, Hermione," said Harry encouragingly. "They just want to help. You told Ron and I. I know more has happened since, but you can do this. Dumbledore made me do the same thing last year after Voldemort took me away from the Triwizard Tournament. It's hard, but it makes it easier."

"Quite well worded, Harry," said Dumbledore. "Now, we should be leaving."

Harry gave Hermione one last look over his shoulder before Dumbledore steered him from the hospital wing entirely. They waited silently outside the entrance until Sirius came out. He saw Harry and smiled, hugging him. Harry smiled back, glad to see his godfather out in public without having to worry about being captured and put back into Azkaban.

The three walked along the dark corridors at a leisurely pace. Sirius and Harry followed Dumbledore, unsure of where exactly they were going. The walk was, for the most part, serenely silent, though every now and then Sirius would punctuate it with a question about Harry's well being.

It turned out that they were going to Gryffindor tower. The Fat Lady did not require a password for once and swung open the moment she saw the Headmaster. They all climbed in the portrait hole and into Gryffindor common room. Harry felt relief at seeing the place he called home, decorated in all its red and gold glory. Fred and George were sitting in front of the fire playing a chess game with Ron watching silently when Sirius, Dumbledore, and Harry entered. They all looked over and Ron jumped up, running over to them.

"Hermione's awake," said Harry, smiling. He was tired from having walked so far, but he didn't mind. Ron grinned and started for the portrait hole immediately.

"Hold on, Mr. Weasley," called Dumbledore, looking amused. "I am glad you are concerned for your friend, but we left to give her some privacy while she informed her parents about recent events. I think she will need a little more time than what we've given her. Where is the rest of your family?"

"We'll get them," called Fred. He grinned at Harry, shooting him a thumbs up. "Glad to see you, Harry!"

"Yeah, way to go," chimed George. "Down with You-Know-Who!" He pumped his fist in the air and ran after his brother.

Harry sat down in the chair Fred had occupied. Ron asked, "So how's she doing, mentally, I mean? Is she okay?"

Harry nodded. "She's still pretty distant, but I think she'll be okay. She just needs time."

Fred, George, Ginny, Molly, and Arthur Weasley all came back down the stairs. Arthur and Ginny gave Harry the familiar, "Glad you're alive" speech that Harry was beginning to tire of. Dumbledore finally let them all leave the common room.

They walked back down at the same slow pace they'd gone up at. When they finally reached the hospital wing again, they paused outside the door. Harry waited for Dumbledore to go in and see if it was all right for the rest of them, but for some reason, Dumbledore looked at him. Harry, blinking in surprise, stared back. Soon, the others were looking at him too. He stepped forward, unsure of what he was supposed to do, and peeked around the doorframe. No conversation was coming from inside. All he could hear were faint sobs. He wasn't quite sure how to convey whether or not they should enter, so he ended up standing in silence, looking back at them. Fred and George shrugged past him and entered anyway, solving his problem.

The rest of them headed in. It seemed that the entire Granger family had burst into tears since they'd departed. Hermione was crying into her mother's shoulder. Mrs. Granger was crying too as she hugged and attempted to console her daughter. Mr. Granger had his arms around them both and while he wasn't crying just then, his eyes were red as though he had been.

Hermione looked up as they all came in. Harry caught her eye and she gave him a small, teary smile. He smiled back and came to sit at the edge of the bed. Ron followed him and the rest of them stood awkwardly around the others.

Mr. Granger detached himself from the tangle of arms and tears and stood facing Dumbledore in an angry way. "What is being done to find this man- Lucius Malfoy?"

"Everything possible, I assure you," said Dumbledore sincerely. "Believe me, the Ministry is aware of his involvement in these recent events and he is high on their most wanted list."

"What will happen to him when he's caught?"

"He'll be put into Azkaban, I believe. It's a wizard prison but it is much worse than any Muggle one. It's a place where all happiness is sucked from the occupants. Most go insane or kill themselves in a matter of years. If we are all lucky, the Dementor's Kiss will be performed, leaving Mr. Malfoy soulless yet still technically alive for the rest of his days."

Mr. Granger nodded-though Harry doubted he understood most of this-his face still set in an angry way. "He'd better be, that's all I can say," he said, sitting down again and wrapping an arm around Hermione. Hermione had stopped crying and was lying down, staring in a blank way. Harry knew how she felt. He'd felt the same way at the end of last year when Dumbledore had made him talk. He'd wanted nothing more than to be left alone and he'd soon after gotten his wish. Hermione would not.

"Now," said Dumbledore, "is everyone up to date?" He looked pointedly at the Grangers. Mrs. Granger nodded, still holding Hermione tightly. "Good. I'm sure all of you have many questions. Harry, Hermione, I think one question you most want the answer to is how Voldemort was killed."

Harry nodded. Hermione stared. Dumbledore continued. "Draco sacrificed himself for you, Hermione. That left you with the same protection that Harry had when his mother died. However, Harry's protection is no longer effective against Voldemort. Voldemort took some of Harry's blood, along with it taking part of Harry's protection. As they both have the protection given by the same person, it will not work against each other- the different protections . . . cancel each other out, you may say. They are like two ordinary people against one another. Voldemort is not protected from Harry, nor is Harry protected from Voldemort. Do you follow me? Now, Hermione, someone different sacrificed himself to save you. You have a different type of protection that is effective against Voldemort. Both of you have protection, though; so neither of you can have the Killing Curse used against you. This is a terribly rare occurrence. I believe there have been two other documented cases of this since it was first discovered. Harry, what happened next?"

Harry thought of the best way to describe it. "Voldemort attacked Hermione," he said. "He used Avada Kedavera. The green light formed this long beam between the two, levitating them."

Dumbledore nodded. "Yes. That light was the Avada Kedavera curse. It connected the two that had the protection, slowly draining the life from both. The one whose protection was weaker would be destroyed. The one with stronger protection would be left alive, though very drained and with their protection gone. Sometimes both die."

"So my protection was stronger than Voldemort's?" asked Hermione appearing overwhelmed and exhausted. She shook her head in uncertainty in weariness. Harry could see the fatigue in her eyes, along with another emotion he couldn't seem to place.


"But how? He's so much stronger than I am."

"Stronger physically, perhaps. But this is not physical strength being measured. It is the strength of the protection. Voldemort took protection from Harry, so it was naturally not as strong. You got the protection in the way you were supposed to and you had just gotten it. That made it stronger. Voldemort held on until he was drained completely, then the curse reached him. He was killed."

A thought seemed to strike Hermione. "I was passing out," she whispered. "It hurt so badly and I'd just given up. After Lucius . . ." She paused a moment, apparently fighting the memory. "After he attacked me with the Cruciatus Curse, I just didn't care anymore. I wouldn't say I wanted to die, but I was just so worn out from everything, I wanted to escape it any way I could. Harry kept me awake for about a minute. He got attached to the green light when he touched it, forming a three-way sort of triangle. It was as I was passing out, despite his efforts, that the green light just . . . exploded."

Dumbledore nodded grimly. "You were not passing out, Hermione-you were dying." Dumbledore's words were punctuated here by a loud gasp from Mrs. Granger who once again grabbed Hermione tightly. Mr. Granger's expression remained set in a weary, horrified expression as he squeezed his daughter's shoulder lovingly. Dumbledore looked at Harry. "You saved her life, I would have to say. You kept her aware long enough for the curse to get to Voldemort first, though I must say it was an extremely close call."

Harry nodded, showing no reaction to Dumbledore's words. He had known it down there in the cavern, even if Hermione had not. He'd known she was dying. It was why he'd made such an effort to keep her awake. He did, however have a question. "Why did I attach to the light by touching it?" he asked.

"You attached because you had protection as well. If you had been an ordinary person touching it, you'd have been killed instantly. While your protection was not effective against Voldemort, I think you gave Hermione enough of your strength for her to fight him off those last few seconds. You saved her in more ways than one. I think it's the first ever three-way occurrence."

This was news to Harry. He nodded, looking at Hermione out of the corner of his eyes. She was looking straight ahead.

"Professor . . ." began Hermione slowly. Dumbledore gave her an encouraging nod. "My Dark Mark. It's disappeared-so did Draco's-and I don't know why. He said it was forever, even if he was dead." She looked down, but Harry could see her face. While it was obvious she was still highly discomforted speaking of it, he noticed that her face lacked the shame it had worn before. It seemed she was at least no longer blaming herself, something Harry was grateful for.

"Ah, yes. This has been a much more complicated subject to look into. I can do nothing more or less than give you my best educated guess based on the materials I've read. I've never heard of any such case happening before. I have only a theory, but I do believe I'm accurate. You may have agreed to go over to the Dark side, but you were always on the Light side in your heart. That loyalty never wavered, I need not even ask such a foolish question. The mark on your arm symbolized evil in its purest form. Voldemort's presence on this planet was enough to keep the mark on you and the evil magic within you. However, he is now gone. There is nothing left to enforce the magic. Most Death Eaters are loyal to Voldemort even now. They are at the very least evil, whether they are still loyal or not. That keeps the mark on their arms, binding them forever to the Dark Magic. You, however, were never truly loyal. You only had that mark because you were forced to do so and even when you took it, you were doing so for what you believed was the only sake of the Light side. When He left, the magic of evil left you because you were not evil. The goodness within you was strong enough to drive it out. Does that make sense?"

Hermione nodded slowly. "When we were connected . . . he and I . . . my arm was burning, right where the Dark Mark was. Harry's scar was too. I could see him clutching it." Harry nodded in agreement.

"I would assume that was the process of the Dark Magic draining from you as Voldemort's life drained. Harry, of course, has always had a connection with the Dark Lord through that scar. I suppose he was feeling the pain Voldemort was and when Voldemort died, Harry's scar stopped hurting." Dumbledore smiled at them both. "Harry, I am quite confident in telling you that you will most likely never feel even the slightest twinge in your scar again."

"What about Malfoy?" asked Harry. "If you had to have been loyal to the Light side all along to have the Mark removed . . . Malfoy was loyal to them once. How does he factor in?"

"Yes, he was evil once. However, as I once told you, it is our choices that make us who we are, Harry. Draco chose a different path than the one predestined for him to take. That decision of his led him to that cavern with you. It led him to sacrificing himself for Hermione and ultimately saving both your lives and destroying the Dark Lord. He understood and changed entirely, even if it was in the last moments of his life. That action of good was enough to drive the evil away from him." Dumbledore paused and dipped his head respectfully. "Even if it was in the last moments of the boy's life."

"Wait a minute," said Harry, holding up a hand, brow furrowed in thought. "You said this path was different than the one destined for him. So the prophecies weren't talking about him?"

"They were," assured Dumbledore. "This was the desired outcome. However, every destiny can be changed. You could have walked the other way when I asked you to return to Voldemort-I gave you that option so you knew you would have it. While The Key was a necessary part of all this, any member could have walked away at any moment. Draco reached a fork in the roads. He chose the harder path, rather than the one everyone around him wanted and expected him to take. He changed his own future. This was foreseen, yes, but there were many other possible outcomes. It all depended on the choices made. And I do believe he made the right choices."

Hermione remembered the Sorting Hat's words to her in the beginning of this year. "Could be good. Could not be good. That is entirely up to you. Do what you feel is right. Either way, you have a hard road ahead of you."

"The Sorting Hat knew all this would happen when it chose me, didn't it?" asked Hermione, startled at this realization.

Dumbledore thought about it. "Yes, Hermione, I would say it probably did. After all, it is made of the memory of the Founders. The Founders wrote the prophecy we went by. It would all fit accordingly, yes."

"But why would it pick me?" she asked. "Mistake, I suppose? Anyone could have handled this whole ordeal better than I have. Gryffindors are supposed to have courage-I've been nothing more than a trembling wreck ever since this all started. Why didn't it pick Harry? He would have done better."

Dumbledore shook his head, stern again. "No, I don't think he would have, meaning no disrespect to him, of course. The Hat sees things you and I cannot. It chose you because you could do what you have-make it through the whole ordeal successfully and alive. And you have lived up to Godric Gryffindor's name if anyone ever has. You've shown remarkable courage-both of you have, but you in particular. If all this had not scared you, it wouldn't be courage-it would be insanity. You have been terrified, pushed to the brink of what you are not capable of handling and you've survived it. That's something not many wizards can say at all, especially when speaking of Lord Voldemort. You have made the decisions you saw as best and it has gotten you through it alive. You've done an invaluable service to your peers, family and every wizard on earth. No one could have done as well. You were meant to do this, the Hat knew that. No one but you could have managed it."

Hermione sat in silence through Dumbledore's speech. His words buried themselves in her mind and she began to see things as he did. It was a small window of sight, but now that it was all over, she was becoming more open to different perspectives on it all. She thought she liked Dumbledore's better.

Dumbledore allowed them all to think about the words. "Now," he continued, "I do believe that covers all the pressing issues. Should anyone have any other questions, feel free to ask me in private. I think it's time we allow Hermione to rest. Harry, you may leave if you wish. Whatever Poppy says, I think you're ready to return to your dorm for another couple of days to rest there."

Harry cast a sidelong glance at Hermione and shook his head. "I thank you for the offer-and be sure to tell Madam Pomfrey about it-but I think I'll stay here a while longer."

As though she'd been listening in, Madam Pomfrey chose that moment to come sweeping in like a vulture, glaring at them all. While she toned down the vicious intensity of her glare when she looked at Dumbledore, it was by a small margin. "Is your little convention over, Headmaster? Am I allowed to do my job and treat my patients again?"

Dumbledore smiled. "Yes, I do believe it is. That dinner looks like it did you a lot of good, Poppy. You appear much more energetic." She snorted huffily and walked away. Dumbledore caught Harry's eye and gave him a small wink. "Let's clear out, now. Harry, Hermione, you may stay. Mr. and Mrs. Granger, you're welcome to stay as well of course. You too, Ron."

"Hang on, Mr. Dumbledore," said Mr. Granger, standing up. "I'd like to speak with you. There are still several issues I'm unclear on here . . . many terms you've used I'm not familiar with . . . And despite your reassurances, I still have some questions about this Malfoy man."

Dumbledore nodded. "Of course. I'd be happy to discuss them with you both outside."

Mrs. Granger stood up as well, but turned back to Hermione. She kissed her daughter on the forehead. "He's right," she said softly. "You've handled things most people twice your age couldn't have. You've made us extremely proud. All we want is for you to get better now, so do as the nurse says and get some rest."

"We won't be gone long," assured Mr. Granger.

Soon, everyone except Harry, Ron, and Hermione had cleared out of the hospital wing. Ron, sensing the tense silence between the two and the untouched topics hanging in the air which he had no part in, spoke up. "I'm going to get some breakfast," he said. "I'll come back in a little bit. Try and sneak some edible food in. I reckon you'll starve if you're made to live on the food here much longer." He bent down and hugged Hermione. "I'm glad you're okay. You've been amazing."

Once Ron had slipped out of the hospital wing door, Harry and Hermione looked at each other. It was the first time they'd been alone since Hermione had woken up. There were several moments of awkward silence before either moved or spoke. Harry stood up and crossed the room where a window was. He pulled up the blinds, letting the first early rays of the sun in. When he came back, he sat on the side of her bed, closer than where he'd previously been, at her feet.

It was Hermione who broke the silence first. "Thank you."

He looked at her, mild surprise showing on his face. "For what?" he asked, truly puzzled.

"For everything," she replied. "For saving my life down there, for protecting me at your own risk . . . just, everything. You've really helped me, Harry, in more ways than you know. I don't think I could have made it without your help and support. You're just as much responsible for the Dark Lord's downfall as I am. As Malfoy is."

"Not really, Hermione. Even Malfoy had a bigger role than me."

Hermione shook her head. "No. He helped a lot. He made up for everything he did. I forgive him and I wish he were here so I could tell him that. I hope he knew. But you've been just as helpful as him, whether you know it or not."

Harry just shrugged. "I guess. Doesn't matter who did what now." The two lapsed into silence for a few moments. Harry broke the silence once more, his voice soft and certain. "He was wrong, you know."

Hermione looked up, confused. "Who was wrong?" she asked.

"Voldemort," said Harry. "He said love was a weakness. He was wrong, but at the same time, he was right. He was right when it came to himself. To him, love is a weakness. But to others, it's a strength. It was love that gave you the power to defeat him-that gave me the power to help. It was love that destroyed him because he was too evil to accept love."

"He was wrong about something else," said Hermione, this time making Harry look startled. "He was wrong when he said your father would be disappointed in you. Your father would have been very proud, Harry. You did what your parents died trying to do-you defeated him and you did it because you were a good person. And you survived to see the next day."

Harry felt his heart soar at these words. He'd never really thought about it, but he thought now that Hermione was right. His mother and father would have been proud of him. He felt a relaxed smile tugging at the corners of his mouth. "Thanks. It's over, 'Mione. We did it and he's gone. That's what matters now. It's all over."

Hermione smiled at him and settled back onto her pillows. Harry put his arm around her and they unconsciously shifted closer. While the Dark Lord had left behind many wounds that needed healing, many of which would scar and become permanent blemishes on his victims, they were now presented with the opportunity to deal with them. Voldemort's reign had ended, after over two decades of terror. It would take months, even years to finally rebuild the lives and destruction he'd caused, but it could be done. And now they could do it without having to worry about him one day rising again. It was a feeling Harry had not known since he was ten, since before he'd gotten his letter. It was a feeling he liked.

They said nothing more. There were many untouched subjects that would one day be brought up, but they'd said all they needed to for now. They watched out the window as the fiery orange sun peeked up from behind the most distant treetops, staining the sky a rippling mural of pastels and touching its first golden rays down upon the land.

A/n: So, did you like it? *winces apprehensively* Good, bad, don't care? Tell me! And please do check out the poem, which will be up in a couple of days. I'd really like to know what you think. I have no confidence whatsoever in my poetry skills, so it's a gamble for me to post this. I just got bored one night and wrote it. Okay, I'll shut up now, if you'll review!