AN: And so another story draws to a close. I'm sorry that the last chapter was such a cliffhanger, I figured people would see the pattern from earlier that I was trying to mirror here. JIt feels perhaps a bit cheesy to wrap up the story with so little death, but since this is fanfiction I get to indulge my own fantasies. And this is truly how I wished it had ended.
If you like my work, check out "The Boomslang Thief" which is a murder mystery set during 4th year.
Thank you again for all the tremendous support I have received from loyal readers. It has meant a great deal to me.
Harry blinked his eyes open, looking at the early morning light streaming in the window. He looked over to the chair beside his bed, and saw the inert form of Severus Snape. Harry smiled when he observed the man curled up uncomfortably, knowing that the man could easily have transfigured the chair into a cot for himself. Harry remembered the time he had done the same thing when Snape had been in the infirmary after being blasted by Sirius. Smiling, Harry knew it was for the same reason he had been on the chair – he felt guilty and he loved Harry. Harry then noticed something else for the first time – stubble. How long had he been out?
"Harry?" he heard Madame Pomfrey greet him. "I have a spell that tells me when you wake up. How are you feeling?"
"Okay, I guess," he answered, though he did feel dizzy. "What happened?"
"You lived," Snape told him, blinking sleep away. "Though I did believe that I told you that any death or injury could be punishable."
"I don't feel injured!" Harry protested with a smile. He knew Snape didn't mean it.
"You took a killing curse," Snape told him. "Apparently the elder wand was able to shield enough of it, and perhaps your mother's spell is still active as well. So that, despite your best efforts, you managed to survive to face my wrath."
"Tom Riddle is dead," Harry told him with certainty. "We won."
"How do you possibly know that?" Snape asked him, raising an eyebrow.
"I saw Dumbledore," Harry answered simply. "We had a chat."
"A chat?" Snape asked, incredulous. "Did you tell the old man that he needed to stop wasting away and come back?"
"He said you'd say that," Harry grinned. "He said to tell you that he's enjoying his rest-cure and will be back within a few weeks."
"I'm sure he is," Snape smirked. "He missed the big show, as it were."
"How long have I been out?" Harry asked, not wanting to look Snape in the face. It felt uncomfortable to ask, as he was sure Snape was there the whole time.
"Three days," Snape answered. "Poppy said you would be fine, that you only took a small part of the killing curse."
"I even predicted three days being unconscious," she replied primly, smirking at the potions master. "You could have at least showered."
"I wanted to be here," he answered firmly in a voice that brooked no opposition.
"Dumbledore said that Tom died," Harry repeated. "That he dissolved into a million dark pieces and just . . . came apart."
"There was not much left of him without the horcruxes," Snape answered solemnly. "The killing curse he aimed at you reflected back to him. Bella realized what happened a second later, and in her despair Lupin was able to attack. She joined her master moments later in death."
"Never escaped the bind Weasley put him in and is now awaiting trial," Snape nodded. "The ministry is focused on rounding up the remaining death eaters, although many of them have fled to parts unknown. The tide has, shall we say, turned. Rumor is that Shacklebolt will be the minister within the month."
"Casualties from our side?" Harry asked softly. He knew to expect some, they had taken down Voldemort after all. He felt guilty praying that it wasn't Ron and Hermione, because he didn't want to lose anyone.
"I'm afraid there has been one," Snape told him solemnly. "One of the twins lost an ear."
"Caught by a stray cutting curse during the kerfuffle," Snape nodded with a sigh. "I suppose that means that I will have to actually learn to tell them apart now."
"Hermione? Ron?" he asked, breathless.
"Completely fine," Snape confirmed. "And anxious to see you. I told them if they came here before they had a decent breakfast today that I could easily conjure a paddle."
"You wouldn't!" Harry laughed in relief.
"I most certainly would," Snape sniffed.
"It's done then," Harry nodded, laying back.
"It is," Snape acknowledged. "And with remarkably little loss of life. Although perhaps you can tell me why you tried to block a killing curse with just a shield charm? We have gone over how to dodge them, and that was not one of the approved methods."
"He tried to crucio me," Harry explained. "And though it came through the shield, it was only a little pain, like a stinging hex. So I figured I could shield a killing curse too, and I focused on wanting to reflect it back. The elder wand understood what I wanted."
"It did, did it?" Snape rasped, trying to remind himself that Harry was indeed alive. He couldn't believe the fool lived. "Foolhardy."
"But it worked!" Harry protested. "You can't punish me for what worked."
"I most certainly can if the fact that your survival was simply dumb luck," Snape growled at him, but they both knew there was no bite to it.
"So is it the cane then?" Harry asked, cheeky. "Six of the best?"
Snape's mouth twitched at the boy, wondering how he could have wormed his way into his heart so thoroughly.
"I'm afraid it's much worse than that," Snape answered gravely. "I'm afraid I'm forced to administer a hug."
"Truly dreadful," Harry answered, and found himself enveloped in potion-scented robes. He felt himself being pressed firmly to Snape's chest, and reveled in the closeness. And then he knew it was truly over, and Snape had been right. They could now live in peace.
"Now I have quite a few nasty potions to give you," Snape told him, ending the hug with a squeeze to Harry's hand. "You may wish you had stayed with Dumbledore."
"If I tell him you're handing out potions he won't come back," Harry smiled, his heart full to overflowing, but still grimacing at the coming potions. "Not the dirty sock one?"
"That one will evoke fond memories when I'm done with you," Snape informed him. "Imagine the cheek of surviving a killing curse from Voldemort again."
"You used his name," Harry marveled.
"No reason not to," Snape told him, rifling through his potion vials. "He's truly gone, Harry."
And he was.