As of 12/5/19 – I am doing a complete edit on this story for grammar, spelling, etc. as I post it to AO3. Nothing about the content is changing.
A/N – This story is first a post-war recovery story and as such, the first twenty-five chapters or so are about the immediate aftermath of the war, reactions, grief, rebuilding, healing, etc. Expect tears. Although Hermione/Remus is the main pairing, Hermione dates other people first (including Ron) and the romance between Hermione and Remus is a very slow burn.
Thank you to my Falcons - MaryRoyale, trollnexus and asebi, who beta'ed and reassured me when I had zero confidence. Go and read their stuff, they are all awesome! Enjoy and please let me know what you think!
1 August 1997
"Again," Voldemort demanded. Draco's arm shook with the effort to hold the curse, his face pale, his eyes wide. When Dolohov did not seem to be suffering enough for the Dark Lord's liking, he snarled and cast a slicing hex at Draco before turning his wand on Dolohov.
"Crucio!" Voldemort shouted and Dolohov's body bowed and convulsed, his screams echoing off the walls of the drawing room. Voldemort wore an angry scowl as the Death Eater in front of him turned to his side and attempted to curl in on himself. Voldemort lowered his wand for a moment, allowing Dolohov to take in a great gasp of air.
"M-my L-l-lord, pl-please," he managed.
"You beg me after your continued failings, Dolohov?" Voldemort questioned. "You and Rowle have called me back for nothing and yet you expect me to be merciful?" He cast the curse again and Dolohov screamed for a few moments before his cries tapered to pitiful whimpers. A spreading puddle beneath him made the Dark Lord drop his wand again, scoffing in disgust.
"Draco, clean that up," he spat. Draco managed to raise his wand, despite his bleeding arm, and cast a cleansing charm around the fallen Death Eater. Voldemort stared at the man on the floor in front of him, Rowle already having faced his displeasure. They'd had Potter in their hands and yet the idiots had let him escape again. Three teenagers had bested them. Voldemort roared out the curse once more and when he finally dropped it Dolohov was no longer making any noise. Voldemort kicked at the man with his foot and he rolled to his back, his eyes unfocused, his head lolling to the side. The Dark Lord pushed his way into Dolohov's mind for a moment and scowled once he had retreated. "Weak," he muttered under his breath after finding nothing coherent. It was rather disappointing; Dolohov had been with him from the beginning and was one of his more vicious followers.
"Dispose of that," he said to the room at large. "And let this be a lesson to all of you. Lord Voldemort does not tolerate failures." He glided from the room and the Manor before taking flight and disappearing.
Harry gasped as he pulled from the vision.
"Harry, are you all right?" Hermione asked as she knocked on the bathroom door.
"Fine, m'fine," Harry mumbled. He stood and turned on the tap, splashing a bit of water on his face. When he opened the door, Hermione was standing in the corridor, her arms crossed.
"It was another one, wasn't it?" she demanded.
"Yeah," Harry said with a sigh.
"Harry-" she began, but he held up a hand to stop her.
"I know, Hermione, all right. It's not like I can stop it."
"You can!" she insisted.
"Hermione, give it a rest, yeah?" Ron said as he came up behind her. He looked at Harry. "All right?"
"Dolohov is dead or insane or something," Harry said. Ron looked at him in confusion while Hermione stiffened.
"What do you mean?"
"Voldemort tortured him with the Cruciatus," Harry explained. "Because we got away. He wasn't moving when Voldemort was finished."
"He was the one," Ron said looking at Hermione. "In the Department of Mysteries, he was the one, right?" Hermione nodded. Ron's face hardened. "Well, good. One less that we have to deal with."
Hermione looked as if she was going to protest, then closed her mouth and looked away.
"C'mon, let's see if there's anything to eat around here."
2 May 1998
Remus shielded against another curse as he shot a stunner at the retreating Death Eater. The Death Eater crumpled to the ground and Remus ducked behind half a stone statue that had been blasted apart. Taking a breath, he looked around the courtyard. It only took him moments to realize that all the Death Eaters, as well as the creatures Voldemort had on his side, were retreating. Frowning, Remus wiped at a gash on his forehead as the disembodied voice began speaking.
Remus shook his head at the end of Voldemort's little speech, knowing exactly what Harry would do. Remus needed to get back inside and find him before the boy did something stupid. As he hurried across the courtyard, a moan to his left made him pause. He drew his wand and listened; the noise seemed to be coming from behind a stone bench that had been broken in half. Remus approached quietly until he saw a pair of feet sticking out from underneath the bench's larger piece. Levitating the stone away, Remus was met with the sight of Cho Chang covered in blood, one leg clearly broken.
Remus began to siphon the blood from her, looking for the source of the bleeding. He found it seconds later, a deep cut across her upper arm which he healed quickly. Her eyes fluttered open.
"Professor?" she croaked.
"It's all right," Remus assured her. "I'll take you to Madame Pomfrey." He muttered a stabilizing charm on her leg, but she still cried out in pain as he scooped her up into his arms. "I'm sorry," he said with a grimace. Mercifully, she seemed to pass out.
Remus picked his way through the rubble of the courtyard as quickly as he dared while carrying her. It was remarkably empty, save one dead Death Eater whom Remus didn't recognize. Wondering where everyone had gone, he entered the side door into the corridor to the Entrance Hall. There was more rubble and debris here and Remus saw movement up ahead of him. It looked to be Kingsley carrying someone in as Remus was, although Remus was quite sure whoever Kingsley carried was dead. Remus once again thanked Merlin that he had been able to convince Dora to stay with Teddy.
By the time Remus had reached the doors to the Great Hall, he was struggling to maintain his grip on Miss Chang. It wasn't that she was overly heavy, but the gash on Remus' forehead had started to bleed again and the spot on his back where he'd been hit by falling stone was throbbing. He stumbled into the Great Hall and sank down onto the floor. He eased Cho from his lap, conjuring a small pillow to put beneath her head. He looked around for Poppy but she was busy tending to another of the injured.
He wiped at the blood on his face, the sleeve of his shirt now sodden with it. Grimacing, he muttered a Scourgify, then healed the cut as best he could without seeing it. He looked around the Hall. Pomona was only a few feet away, helping Poppy from the looks of it. He rose and started towards her, but then saw a sea of redheads in one corner and frowned. When Bill turned to the side slightly, tears on his cheeks, Remus gasped.
"Pomona," he said as he reached her. "Miss Chang has a broken leg." He didn't wait for Pomona's response, but hurried towards the Weasleys.
"Bill," he said, putting a hand on the younger man's arm. Bill turned to him, a tearful Fleur in his arms.
"It's Fred," Bill managed and Remus' stomach dropped.
"Is he-" Remus trailed off, not wanting to give voice to his thoughts. Fleur spoke up.
"'e is dead," she said through her tears.
"I'm so sorry," Remus said, getting a bit choked up himself. He had always been fond of the twins. Their pranks, of course, reminded him of his younger days, but they were also incredibly smart, smarter than anyone gave them credit for. Their shop was a thing of beauty, something he wished Sirius and James could have seen.
Bill moved a bit and Remus could see George sitting on the floor, his twin's head in his lap. Molly was kneeling next to him, holding tightly to his hand. Both were sobbing. Arthur stood behind his wife, his hand on her shoulder, as he silently cried. Remus caught Arthur's eye and tried to convey his sorrow at Fred's passing through a look alone. Arthur nodded in acknowledgement and Remus suddenly felt as if he were trespassing.
"I'm going to help Poppy," Remus said to Bill as he turned, although the other man did not seem as if he had even heard.
Remus moved away from the Weasleys, searching the crowd again for Poppy. Given his lycanthropy, he was relatively well-versed in simple healing spells and figured that she could use the help. When he spotted her, she was bent over Firenze, working on a large wound in his flank. Remus began to make his way across the Hall, but before he was even halfway there, Kingsley stepped into his path.
"Remus," he said, his deep voice seeming to quaver slightly. Remus looked at him, a bit surprised at the emotion on the usually stoic man's face. "Remus, I," he paused and took a breath. Something shifted in Remus' gut, but he refused to put name to it.
"Have you seen Harry?" he asked instead, realizing he hadn't spotted the boy when he was looking for Poppy.
"Harry?" Kingsley repeated. "No, I haven't. Remus there's something-"
"We've got to find him Kingsley, make sure he doesn't go and do anything stupid." Remus turned away from the larger man and began to scan the Great Hall again, looking for Harry.
"Remus," Kingsley said, putting a hand on his arm. Remus knew there was something wrong, but he refused to look back at the Auror. Kingsley sighed. "I need to speak with you. It's about Tonks." Remus finally turned; his brow furrowed.
"Dora? She's at home with Teddy."
"No, she isn't," Kingsley replied, his voice trembling again.
"What are you talking about, Kings? Of course, she is."
"Remus, she," Kingsley trailed off and shook his head. "Just come with me." He began to walk away, but Remus stayed where he was. He needed to find Harry. Kingsley didn't know what he was talking about. Dora was home with her mother and Teddy.
Kingsley paused when he realized Remus wasn't behind him. He sighed and turned back, taking the werewolf gently by the arm until Remus was forced to follow.
"Kingsley, we've really got to find Ha-" but Remus never finished what he planned to say. Kingsley had stopped moving and there, on the floor in front of him, lay Dora. But that was impossible.
"I'm sorry, Remus," Kingsley said, but Remus shook his head.
"This isn't…no this…it can't be." Kingsley's hand tightened on Remus' arm. Remus turned to him, confused expression on his face. "She's at home."
"Remus, I'm sorry," Kingsley said again. "She must have come later."
"No, she told me, she said," Remus looked down at the woman on the floor again. "She promised me."
"Remus," Kingsley began, but Remus shook his head violently.
"She said she would stay with Teddy," he insisted. "It's not her." Kingsley looked at him, pity in his eyes. "I'm telling you, Kingsley, it's not her!"
"Remus," another voice said and Remus turned to see Minerva standing beside him.
"She promised," he repeated, his tone begging his former professor to tell him that what he was seeing couldn't possibly be true. "She's at home. She's with our son." Minerva's eyes held the same look they'd had when he was eleven and had just woken from his first transformation at Hogwarts. Sad and comforting, with an undercurrent of anger. Anger that he suffered and had to deal with the pain every month, as young as he was.
"It's not true," he whispered. Minerva gathered him in her arms and he clung to her as he had after that first transformation when he'd wanted his mother so badly. "She promised."
"I know, lad, I know." Remus stared down at the body on the floor that was most certainly not his wife. This woman had dark brown hair, not the bubblegum pink his Dora wore when he'd left her. She was so small, so broken-looking, not the vibrant, lively woman that made him smile every day. This was not her.
"I'm so sorry, Remus," Minerva said quietly and Remus pulled away from her. He met her gaze and her eyes were full of sorrow. She put a hand on his arm and gave it a gentle squeeze. "I'll give you some privacy." Remus nodded numbly and she moved away to tend to more of the injured.
Remus stood rooted to the spot for a few moments before he dropped to his knees. He stared at the foreign-looking woman on the floor, trying to convince himself that what Kingsley and Minerva had said was a lie. That any minute this woman would shift and morph into someone else. That she was not his wife, the mother of his son. Her hand was lying on her stomach and Remus' heart froze when he saw the small diamond ring that adorned it. He stared at it for what seemed like hours before he gently took her hand in his. His fingers ran over the stone, the one he had been almost embarrassed to give her. She had deserved far better than the little that he'd been able to afford. She hadn't cared, her eyes had sparkled and danced the moment he gave it to her and he often caught her staring at it with a soft smile on her face when she didn't know he was watching her.
Remus squeezed her hand more tightly as the world seemed to crash in around him. She was dead. Dora. His wife, Teddy's mother, was dead. With his head bowed, her hand clutched to his chest, Remus wept.
Hermione and Ron walked into the Great Hall; Harry close behind. Hermione's eyes were immediately drawn to the large group of redheads in one corner. Ron and Hermione hurried towards them, expecting that Harry would follow.
"Dad," Ron said, his voice cracking. Arthur turned from his wife and pulled his youngest son into a hug. Hermione stepped up next to Ginny and took her hand.
"I'm so sorry, Ginny," Hermione said, tears pricking her eyes. Ginny merely nodded, leaning more into Bill who had his arm around her. Ron moved next to his brothers, Percy throwing an arm around his shoulder. They all stood in quiet sorrow, memories of Fred filling their minds.
"Where's Harry?" Ginny asked a few minutes later.
"He was right behind us," Hermione said with a frown as she looked around the group and realized that Harry wasn't there. He must have gone to view the memories, but Hermione was surprised he hadn't come to talk to the Weasleys first. She glanced around the Hall, wondering if he had been waylaid by someone else. There was no sign of him as her gaze came to rest on the row of bodies laid out down the middle of the Hall. Hermione closed her eyes for a moment and she swallowed thickly. She knew there would be others besides Fred, but she wasn't particularly keen to find out just who they were.
Opening her eyes again, she quickly skimmed past the rest, intent on continuing to search for Harry when a familiar head of light brown hair caught her eye. Remus was kneeling over someone, holding their hand, his shoulders shaking. When he bent further forward, Hermione gasped.
"Oh no," she whispered. Ginny looked up at her, question in her eyes, but Hermione let go of her friend's hand and hurried toward her former professor.
As she neared him, she stopped, wanting to comfort him, but not wanting to intrude. He was clearly lost in his grief. She chewed on her bottom lip and shifted from foot to foot for a few seconds. She watched as he leaned forward and placed a gentle kiss on Tonks' lips before sitting back on his heels. Hermione stepped forward, still unsure if she should interrupt him or not.
"Remus?" she said tentatively. He startled and turned his head towards her. Tears still shone on his cheeks and Hermione felt her own eyes fill in response. "I'm so sorry." He nodded and looked back at his wife, taking a shuddering breath. Hermione knelt beside him and placed a hand on his arm.
"She wasn't supposed to be here," he said shakily.
"She came because she wanted to know what was happening." Remus turned sharply towards her his brow furrowed.
"You saw her?" Hermione nodded.
"When Harry, Ron and I came back to the Room of Requirement she was there with Ginny and Neville's grandmother. We, erm, we needed the Room for something. She asked if we'd seen you and then ran off to find you. She didn't?" Remus shook his head.
"I don't even know what happened to her," he replied. "Or who…who did it." They sat in silence for a few moments, Hermione not knowing what else to say. She couldn't even begin to imagine what Remus was going through. Her eyes filled again as she thought about little Teddy, only a few weeks old. He would never know his mother.
"Where is Harry?" Remus asked. Hermione looked at him in confusion, but his entire expression had changed. The tears were gone and his features had hardened.
"Oh, erm, I'm not really sure."
"What do you mean you're not sure?" Remus demanded. "I thought you were with him."
"I was, I mean, we were, Ron and me. We all came into the Great Hall together, but then Harry left, I guess." Hermione was a bit flustered. She didn't understand his abrupt change in demeanor.
"You guess?" Remus asked incredulously.
"Well, I've got a good idea of where he is, but I didn't see him actually leave. Ron and I went to join his family." Remus rose to his feet.
"We've got to find him," he said, frown on his face. Hermione stood as well, still watching him in confusion.
"I'm sure he's fine," she said.
"You're sure he's fine?" Remus repeated. "You don't think that he's gone straight to Voldemort?"
"Remus," Hermione began, but he interrupted her.
"I don't understand why you're not more concerned, Hermione," he snapped. "Or why you would let Harry out of your sight in the first place!" Hermione stared at him in shock for a moment before lowering her gaze.
"I'm sorry," she whispered. Remus sighed and scrubbed a hand down his face.
"No, I'm sorry," he said shaking his head. "I…it's not your fault."
"It's all right," she said quietly. "I know that you're upset."
"Still, I shouldn't have snapped," he replied.
"I'm sure that Harry's fine," she said. "He had something that he needed to do." Remus' eyes narrowed.
"Something that wasn't finding Voldemort?"
"No, something else," she assured him. "Ron and I were going to go with him, but then we saw Ron's family and, well." She shrugged. Remus gave her a weak smile that didn't reach his eyes.
"Where do you think he's gone?" he asked. Hermione hesitated. No one else was supposed to know about the Horcruxes and no one yet knew about Professor Snape's death. She had no idea what was in the memories that Snape had given Harry, but she was sure it was something that Harry needed to know in order to defeat Voldemort once and for all. Hermione bit her lip.
"I just, well, no one is supposed to know."
Remus sighed. This ridiculousness again. He had thought Albus insane to have sent three teenagers on some quest for something that no one else knew anything about. His offer to accompany them back in September had been mostly about his fear about Dora's pregnancy, Harry had been spot on about that, but it was also partly about wanting to help the trio in whatever they were supposed to be doing. Harry had had so much put on his shoulders from the time he was eleven, Remus didn't think it right to continue to do so when there were plenty of adults willing and able to help. Not to mention that Harry was the last link to his friends. Remus had lost everyone, including his wife. Teddy and Harry were all he had left. Teddy, thankfully, was safe and Remus would do everything in his power to make sure Harry was too.
"Hermione, I realize what Albus told the three of you about going it alone. But you don't have to do that anymore. This is the end; I can feel it. After tonight, one side is going to come out the victor. Let me help you assure that it's us." Hermione still hesitated. "Help me avenge my wife." Hermione looked up at him, his jaw set, but his eyes pleading. How could she say no?
"I think he's in the Headmaster's office."
"Snape is dead?" Remus questioned as they walked quickly down the corridor. Hermione nodded. She hadn't elaborated on the reason, a part of her still not convinced it was a good idea to tell Remus anything at all. But she was definitely not going to explain about the Hallows. "I don't understand why."
"It's a long story," she said, thankful they had reached the gargoyle. When they entered the office, it was empty.
"Harry," Hermione called out in case he was hiding under his cloak. "Harry if you're in here, come out." There was only silence in the room. "Homenum Revelio." Two points of light left Hermione's wand and hovered over her and Remus.
"He's not here," she said with a sigh. "Maybe he was under his cloak and went back to the Great Hall. We probably just missed him." Remus nodded absently, glancing around the office once more.
"Hermione, why did Snape give Harry his memories?" he asked.
"I don't know," she said honestly. She had no idea why Snape, who betrayed them, would have anything that Harry would want to see. She had wondered about it since Snape had died. Remus looked at her skeptically.
"I honestly don't know," she insisted. "I am starting to wonder if there was more to Professor Dumbledore's death then we knew about though." Remus' brow furrowed. Truth be told, he had wondered the same thing ever since Albus was killed. Something about Snape's betrayal had never sat right with Remus, especially with Albus' unending trust of the man. Albus may have been many things, but ignorant was not one of them and regardless of Snape's prowess as an Occlumens, Remus had a hard time believing he could have fooled the Headmaster so completely.
"What were the three of you looking for this year?" Hermione started at the question.
"Remus, I," she paused, biting her lip. She glanced at the portraits on the walls, but they were empty. She knew she wasn't supposed to tell anyone, but what did it matter now anyway? All the Horcruxes, save Nagini, were gone and couldn't it only help to have someone else in on the secret in case she, Ron or Harry couldn't get to the snake? Harry would be furious with her though, if he found out she'd told. Ron had wanted to tell Bill the moment they got to Shell Cottage and both she and Harry had been adamant that he not.
"Hermione," Remus said sharply. Hermione looked up at him, surprised at the look of anger on his face. "This is absurd. There is no reason to keep it a secret any longer. We need to find Harry and standing here dithering about whether you should tell me or not is not helping!" Hermione flinched. "Now what is going on?"
"I-I," she blinked rapidly trying to keep the tears that were threatening at bay. She glanced back up at the portraits, hoping that Professor Dumbledore might have made a reappearance and be able to take this decision from her shoulders.
"Hermione, James and Lily were two of my best friends. Don't you think they would want me to do whatever it took to keep Harry safe? That they would want you to do the same?" Hermione remained silent, trying to compose herself. Remus sighed. "If the situation was reversed, don't you think your parents would want Harry to do the same for you?" At the mention of her parents, the dam broke and Hermione began to cry, quietly at first. And then she began to sob as the weight of everything that had happened in the last twenty-four hours, no, in the last year, began to crush her. She heard Remus swear under his breath.
"Hermione," he said, much more gently than before. He reached out a hand towards her, but she pulled away from him, mortified at her reaction. She grabbed her beaded bag and began to rummage through it in search of a handkerchief before she embarrassed herself further. Forgetting about summoning one in her current state, she tore through the bag in a frenzy, ignoring the repeated noises of things dropping to the floor.
"Hermione," Remus said again, but this time there was a question in his voice. She risked a glance at him and her mouth dropped open in horror as she realized he was holding one of the Basilisk fangs she and Ron had collected from the Chamber. "What, in Merlin's name, is this?"
"That's, that's, erm," she trailed off, looking at him helplessly. There were still tears on her cheeks, but his discovery had shocked her out of her sobs. He stared at the fang in his hand, then looked back at her.
"I think you had better tell me exactly what you've been up to, Hermione."
"Horcruxes?" Remus repeated. "You're certain?" Hermione nodded.
"We've destroyed them all except for the snake." Remus frowned. Why would Albus want them to keep this a secret? To do it all on their own? And what did Snape's memories have to do with anything? It made no sense.
"Remus?" Hermione said softly. Remus startled out of his reverie. "I think we should find Harry. The hour is nearly up."
"Of course," Remus replied. He gestured for her to precede him and he followed her down the spiral staircase, still deep in thought. They walked quickly through the corridors, back toward the Great Hall. When they reached it, they saw that the row of dead had been moved. Remus panicked for a moment until Hermione laid a hand on his arm.
"I'm sure they've just moved them somewhere safe, now that the hour is nearly up," she said quietly.
"Yes," Remus managed around the large lump in his throat. "Yes, of course." When he looked again, he realized that the wounded were gone too, as was Poppy. He scanned the Hall but did not see the messy head of black hair. When Remus glanced at Hermione, he saw that her brow was furrowed. Clearly, she hadn't spotted Harry either.
"Ron!" Hermione called. Remus saw the redhead turn around and his face sag in relief when he saw Hermione. He hurried towards them.
"Where's Harry?" they both said at the same time. If the situation hadn't been what it was, it would have been comical.
"He's not with you?" Ron demanded.
"No, we went looking for him, but when we didn't find him in the Headmaster's office, I figured he came back here."
"Hermione," Ron warned, giving Remus a side-long glance.
"It's fine, Ron. I've told Remus about the," she dropped her voice to a whisper, "Horcruxes."
"Ron," Remus interjected before Ron could start a tirade against the brunette. "Now is not the time." Ron visibly deflated.
"Yeah, all right," he agreed, raking a hand through his hair. "Where is he then?"
"You don't think," Hermione trailed off, fear naked on her face.
"Fuck," Ron muttered. "Yeah, Hermione, that's exactly what I do think." Remus' mouth set in a grim line. He had suspected as much as soon as they hadn't found Harry in Dumbledore's office.
"We've got to go after him," Remus said. "Ron, can you tell your father?" Remus and Hermione took a few steps.
"Wait a minute," Ron said. "You two can't just rush off on your own."
"Ron, we don't have time for this," Hermione insisted.
"And if you two just go rushing off, you'll end up just as dead as Harry!" Ron snapped. Hermione flinched. "Do you know how many Death Eaters and creatures he's got with him, Hermione?"
"I'm well aware, thanks," Hermione replied scathingly. Ron sighed.
"Just let me tell Dad, all right? We'll gather a group and then go." Hermione made to argue but realized that Ron had a point and so she nodded quickly. Ron jogged back towards his family and moments later most of the Weasleys along with Kingsley, Neville and McGonagall were hurrying towards Hermione and Remus.
"Let's go," Remus said tightly. They had barely reached the Entrance Hall when the disembodied voice reached them once again.
"Harry Potter is dead."
Remus felt his breath leave him. From the corner of his eye, he saw Hermione's knees buckle. Percy and Bill grasped her arms to keep her standing. Ron had a look of horror on his face.
"It's not true," Neville said shaking his head. "It can't be. It's just another of his tricks." Voldemort continued speaking and the group, along with everyone else in the Great Hall moved towards the front doors of the school. Minerva was in the lead and when she stopped short, Remus nearly ran into Kingsley's back.
"No!" Minerva screamed. Remus pushed past Kingsley and was met with the sight of Harry's lifeless body being cradled in Hagrid's arms. Remus heard the cries from Ron and Hermione and Ginny, but he could make no sound himself. Harry could not be dead. It was impossible.
"No," he whispered, but the rise of voices around him drowned it out.
"No," he said a bit louder and then found he couldn't speak at all, Voldemort having silenced them. Remus shook his head violently until Ron broke through the silencing charm.
"NO!" Remus roared and it took both Kingsley and Bill to hold him back from rushing forward. Remus struggled in their grip, but Kingsley's arm was like a steel band around Remus' chest.
"Think of your son," Kingsley hissed in his ear. "He's already lost one parent tonight."
"Harry," Remus said brokenly before he was silenced once more. The next few minutes passed in a blur as Neville stepped forward to defy Voldemort. But Remus could barely see him. All he could think about was that he had lost everything. His friends, his wife, Harry. Teddy was all he had left and perhaps…perhaps Teddy was better off without him. He had failed everyone, after all. Failed James and Lily by thinking Sirius the traitor, failed Sirius by letting him come to the Ministry that night, failed his wife by not protecting her from battle and now he had failed Harry by not stopping him from going to Voldemort. Everyone around him seemed to die. He would not let Teddy face the same fate. Remus' face hardened, he drew his wand and with a yell, he jumped into the fray before anyone could stop him.
Hermione's wand slashed and dove as she, Ginny and Luna battled Bellatrix. Harry was dead. She couldn't quite wrap her mind around it and tried to force the thought away to concentrate on what she was doing. Bellatrix was holding them off easily, cackling madly every time she blocked a spell sent her way. Hermione's eyes narrowed in determination. She cast a nonverbal slicing hex, but Bellatrix was faster, blocking it and then countering with one of her own. Hermione felt the cut across her collarbone.
"Didn't get enough before, Mudblood?" Bellatrix taunted. She flicked her wand and Luna was flung across the room. Hermione's first instinct was to rush to her friend, but she refocused and threw a stunner the Death Eater's way. Bellatrix simply laughed it off and sent another hex at Hermione, this one slicing through her sleeve where the word carved into her arm lay. Hermione gasped in pain but did not drop her wand. Bellatrix shot a spell at Ginny and she shrieked, her attention momentarily distracted by the odd angle her wrist now hung at.
"Now, Bellatrix, hasn't anyone ever told you it's unsporting to pick on children?" a voice behind Hermione said. She nearly sighed in relief as Remus joined the duel.
"Well, well, if it isn't the Order's pet werewolf," Bellatrix sneered, a nasty gleam in her eye. She began to duel Remus in earnest, mostly ignoring the two girls.
"Episkey," Hermione said quickly and Ginny's wrist straightened with another grunt of pain from the redhead. Before either could cast anything else, the Death Eater cast something at them both that left them unable to raise their wand arms. They watched helplessly as Remus and Bellatrix continued to duel.
"How nice it will be to dispatch of the rest of your little family," Bellatrix said with an evil grin, disdain dripping from the word 'family'. Remus faltered for a moment and Hermione gasped realizing that it must have been Bellatrix that had killed Tonks. The Death Eater laughed before sending the Cruciatus curse Remus' way. "I'll have to pay my wayward sister a visit and make sure I've taken care of the little half-breed as well." Remus snarled as he fell to the floor, cursing Bellatrix even as he writhed in pain. Hermione felt the spell on her break and she lunged towards the older witch, casting a slashing hex. Bellatrix dropped the curse on Remus and spun, teeth bared in rage. Hermione grabbed Ginny and they ducked, whatever curse the Death Eater had cast flying harmlessly over their heads and hitting the stone wall behind them. Remus coughed from his position on the floor and tried to hit Bellatrix with a binding spell. Bellatrix, enraged, threw another curse at him. By the crack and Remus' scream, Hermione knew that his wand arm was broken. The Death Eater then rounded on the girls, but Hermione had dropped to her knees next to Remus. The killing curse left Bellatrix's wand, missing Ginny by a mere inch. Hermione was about to get back to her feet, when Molly Weasley came charging out of the crowd.
"Not my daughter, you bitch!" Hermione could only watch in fascination as the Weasley matriarch began to duel, looking nearly as dangerous as Bellatrix herself. Remus tried to get to his feet to help Molly, but Hermione insisted that he remain on the floor.
"She killed her," Remus snapped. "She killed my wife!"
"I know, but your arm is broken, Remus," Hermione retorted. "You'll only get yourself killed too!" Remus muttered something under his breath, but before Hermione could ask what he'd said, he slumped in defeat.
So many things happened after that, that later, Hermione would consider watching the memories in Professor Dumbledore's Pensieve, just so she could make sure she hadn't missed anything. When Mrs. Weasley dispatched Bellatrix, Hermione looked on in stunned disbelief. And then she and Remus gasped as Harry threw off his Invisibility Cloak and began to circle Voldemort.
"Harry," Remus breathed. Hermione could feel the tears running down her cheeks at the sight of her best friend. "But how-?" Hermione simply shook her head. She had long given up figuring out how Harry always managed to get himself out of life or death situations.
Everyone was silent as Harry and Voldemort circled each other and Hermione could not stop her mouth dropping open in shock when Harry revealed that Snape had not killed Dumbledore in cold blood after all. She glanced at Remus and saw the same surprise on his face, replaced instantly by what she could only call regret. She felt the same, but how were any of them to know? She held her breath as Harry explained that he was now the master of the Elder Wand, knowing what was coming from Voldemort. And when the green light erupted from his wand, she forced herself not to close her eyes, offered up a silent prayer and watched, transfixed, as Voldemort's body hit the floor. She glanced down at Remus who nodded once to her.
"Go," he said and Hermione ran towards Harry, Ron joining her steps before she reached him, the Hall breaking into tumultuous shouts and cheers. She grabbed Harry and hugged him, felt Ron embrace them both, and thanked Merlin and every other deity she could think of that it was finally over.