A/N This is my last chapter.  I want to say thanks again for everyone's reviews, and I'm glad you don't think their relationship was too rushed.  I hope it's not really OOC, either.  And thanks also to people who have read this fic even though they think the pairing is wrong… being open-minded is a virtue!  Here's my last chapter… PLEASE R/R!

~Stef

At long last, the day they had been waiting for came.  Severus woke Hermione up at half past seven.  Without a word, she dressed, used the toilet, and washed her face.  Severus, meanwhile, got the Floo powder and double-checked the potion that would hopefully lead to Voldemort's downfall.  They had made a few little changes to the plan over the last few days.  It was more dangerous for the two of them, but it also covered them so that, should the plan not work, Hermione would still have her necklace of potions and some of the Floo powder. 

"Ready?" Severus mouthed at Hermione.  She nodded her head, determined.  It was now or never.  She took off of her necklace one of her two vials of stunning potion and the only vial of Polyjuice that she had, and handed the to Severus.  They grew as she gave them to him.  Severus nodded, smiled, and then kissed her one last time.  "For luck," he whispered, and then strode to the door.

He knocked, loudly, and a guard's voice came through.  "What do you want?"

"There is something you need to see immediately.  Come in at once." Severus commanded.

The door opened, and a wizard wearing a hood entered.  "What is it?" He asked suspiciously. 

"It's over here.  No, not just you, Phillips.  I know there are two of you guarding the door.  You both need to see this."  Their guard was obviously wary and curious at the same time. 

"Andrews!  Come in here!" Their guard called out at last.  A second wizard entered. 

"Over here." Snape said coldly, and led the way to a corner of the room.  They walked around Hermione, ignoring her completely.  Hermione smiled.  Stupid, she thought; never underestimate the power of Hogwarts' Head Girl.

Then, summoning her resolve, she said, "Stupefy!" Andrews fell to the floor.  Severus whirled, and threw the stunning potion at Phillips, who fell to the floor instantly.  Almost a blur, he immediately ran to the man he had frozen, pulled down his hood, plucked three hairs, and added it to the Polyjuice potion, which he drank. 

Hermione, realising that it would take twenty or so seconds for the Polyjuice to work, immediately started whimpering.  Then, "Oh God, I'm so sorry, I'm so, so sorry.  Please don't kill us!  It… it was… it…" That gave Severus the time he needed.  He had transformed into the deatheater.

"Stupid girl!  What were you thinking?  You thought to overpower Death Eaters?"  He was doing a good job of acting like Phillips, Hermione thought, arrogant and over confident. 

"I… I…" she pretended to be lost for words.

"Stupefy!" Snape said.  Without a wand, it was obviously not effective.  "That takes care of the man.  Now you, girl.  You're coming with me.  We're going straight to the Dark Lord.  Enervate."  As Hermione whimpered, Severus addressed thin air once more.  "Got caught by a girl?  Stupid.  The Dark Lord will not be pleased with you, Andrews.  Guard this door, in case the man wakes up!"

With that, Severus took Hermione by the hands, gently despite appearances, and led her out.  Hermione continued to whimper.

As soon as they were outside with the door closed and locked, they broke into a quick walking pace.  Down the corridor, and they stopped at the first door.  No fireplace.  In the second room.  Still no fireplace.  Finally, at the third, there was a fireplace.  No fire. 

Severus ran in, Hermione running behind him now.  She conjured up some wood, and then set fire to it.  This had taken only seconds, but she was paranoid now. What if Voldemort suspected something?  What if there were Deatheaters on their trail? 

Severus had put Floo powder into the fire now.  He motioned for her to precede him.  She stepped in, and as she said, "Professor Dumbledore's office," she wondered what would happen if this fireplace wasn't connected to the Floo network.

Luckily for them, it was.  She fell out of the fireplace, and Snape fell on top of her seconds later.  Dumbledore was behind his desk, talking to McGonagall.  They both stood up, too shocked to speak, as Hermione and Severus slowly rose to their feet.  Gently but quickly, Snape took Hermione's wand from her hand, and removed the listening spell that was on her.  He gave the wand back, and said, "Albus?  There's quite a lot that needs to be said."

Professor Dumbledore looked, for the first time ever in Hermione's eyes, completely flabbergasted.  Professor McGonagall looked ready to faint.  "You're safe!" she cried.  "Safe!  We were… we were discussing… we thought you had died!"  She burst into tears and hugged Hermione.  Severus looked amused. 

"Headmaster, we need to discuss this now.  If our plan works, this could be the end of Voldemort." Severus said firmly.

"Why… why of course.  Tell me, what happened and how did you get out?"

McGonagall finally let go of Hermione, and they both took seats in front of Dumbledore's desk.

Hermione and Severus took turns explaining the events of the last couple of weeks.  "We brewed a large batch of defective vampire cure for him, and batches of smaller inconsequential potions.  While we were doing that, we brewed some Floo Potion, which we then evaporated to make Floo Powder."

"Once we had that, we were pretty much ready to go.  I had my wand, so I cast a stupefy on one of the guards," Hermione said.

"While I threw some stunning potion on another, and took Polyjuice to turn myself into him.  We pretended that the second guard stunned me and took Hermione to Voldemort, and then we ran to the nearest fireplace and Flooed out." Severus finished.

"I see."  Dumbledore was relatively calm.  McGonagall was trying to appear so, but failing.  "You did extremely well, both of you.  But tell me, how does this lead to the downfall of Voldemort?" 

"We left a potion brewing in the room we were held prisoner in.  It is a simple energy potion, but when Voldemort enters the room ingredients will be added which give off fumes that will render him unconscious for four hours.  It will also strip him of his powers, and any of his ongoing magic will cease.  That includes the apparition ban."

"Once Voldemort's out cold, we can Apparate in and kill him." Hermione's voice was nonchalant, as if murdering powerful dark wizards was a weekly occurrence. 

"That was the plan, yes." Severus said.  There was complete silence.  Both Dumbledore and McGonagall looked taken aback.  At last, Dumbledore broke into a grin.  "I don't know why I didn't see it before!" He said.  Snape raised an eyebrow at him while Hermione just stared.  "The two of you!  Of course!  It's perfect!"

"Um…" Hermione said, not sure what to say, or how to react.   Exactly how much had the headmaster read between the lines?"

Snape wasn't quite so subtle.  "What are you talking about?" he asked in irritation.

"You two!  Perfect partners in taking down Voldemort!  I should have seen it before, really, I must be losing my touch! Now, if you'll excuse me, I need to speak with the ministry.  I think a group of Aurors will be required when we storm Voldemort's stronghold, don't you?"  Humming to himself happily, he turned to take some Floo powder from a pot on the mantelpiece, and two seconds later he was gone.

"Well," said McGonagall, finally getting her voice back.  "This calls for… something."

"It does. We will need to prepare for this.  The death eaters won't go down without a fight, but this is our only chance to get rid of Voldemort.  There will be the Aurors, of course, but Fudge still won't accept that Voldemort's back, so we will have to make do with the few that Albus can persuade."

"Yes.  The teaching staff will all help, of course.  Perhaps we should enlist the seventh years too?"  Hermione seemed to have been forgotten.

"Yes, but volunteers only.  And there are a couple of students that I think it would be prudent to not tell the plan to.  Children of death eaters, for one.  Oh, but excluding Draco Malfoy."

Hermione felt she had to say something.  "Um, should I go?"

"No, no, of course not." Professor McGonagall said, looking at her.  "We will need our head girl for strategy.  Firstly, you'll need to speak with the head boy.  Oh, and the seventh years.  Perhaps Severus can give you a list of who you are not to speak with?"

"That can be arranged.  Come back to my quarters after this, if you will, Miss Granger."

The use of her name so formally startled Hermione, but she made no comments.  Of course it would be back to this.  At least for the moment.

"Yes, sir." She said, and was rewarded by the sudden closed look she saw on his face.  She felt certain that the more emotion this man felt, the less he showed.

"Good.  We don't have much time.  Minerva, gather the teachers and get them to dismiss their next classes for a meeting in the common room.  Her- Miss Granger, I will give you a list of students, and you will tell them to report to me in my office.  I shall then do my dark arts act, and take them to a dungeon with specific instructions to brew certain potions for the 'right cause.'" His lip twitched.  "Perhaps it would be fitting to lock them in there, Minerva?"

"I suppose so." She sighed.  "Even though it's all based on suspicion.  Perhaps a teacher can oversee them."  Then a gleam came to her eyes.  "I think Trelawny should be given that duty, as she will be of little use in the upcoming battle."

"Undoubtedly." Snape said, lip twitching slightly again.

"You've changed, Severus.  I think our Hermione has had a good effect on you.  You've nearly smiled a couple of times this meeting."  She grinned at the shocked potions master. "Well, I shall round up the teachers.  You do what you do."

"I will.  Come, Miss Granger!" He snapped, as if to prove her wrong.  Hermione barely suppressed a laugh as McGonagall winked at her, and she hurried to follow Snape from the office.

"Interfering woman," Snape scowled.

"You say that because she hit close to the mark.  Besides, she wasn't complaining.  It's nice to see her smile." Then Hermione added, teasingly, "I know."

"You haven't changed me," he said, almost petulantly.

"We've both changed.  What's responsible for it hardly matters, at this stage."

"Hmph."  Snape was in no mood to agree with anyone.

"Don't be grumpy.  We've escaped!  And we're bringing Voldemort down!  Why are you in such a bad mood?" She asked.

They were at his office now.  "This is why I'm in a bad mood!  I can't do this!" And at that he kissed her, roughly but passionately.  "Instead we're off to fight the most powerful dark wizard in centuries with nothing but a handful of teachers and students!"

"And some Aurors," Hermione reminded him.

"Not enough!  It's not nearly enough!  But no regrets.  Here's a list of the students I've been suspicious of for a while.  You'll notice Draco Malfoy is not on that list."

"Yes.  Um, why is that?"

"He has proven his allegiance to me." Snape said simply.  "I may tell you more later.  Right now, we have no time.  Get all the Seventh years.  Get the ones on the list to the dungeons with Trelawny brewing something, and the rest in the Great Hall."  Snape said, going into his 'professor' mode.

"Yes sir," Hermione responded quickly, and then ran to the teacher's lounge, where she knew there was a list of which students were attending which classes. 

The lounge was empty, and Hermione assumed McGonagall had already rounded up all the teachers that hadn't been teaching classes.  That was good; it meant less explaining. 

Luckily, Gryffindors and Slytherins had Potions together with the substitute in the dungeons, and Ravenclaw and Hufflepuff were having Charms on the first floor.  She considered herself lucky that they weren't all in electives and she walked quickly towards the Charms classroom.  Looking at the list, she noticed only one Ravenclaw on it, and none of the Hufflepuffs.  That would make things easier.

She knocked on the door to the classroom, and entered without waiting for an answer.  Snape had affected her – there was no time!  The class gasped when Hermione walked in, and she realised that they would think her still gone.  She wondered what Dumbledore had told the school, but it was too late now to say anything. 

"I'm sorry to interrupt, Professor Flitwick, but I needed to speak with Anna."

A girl with dark brown hair stood up, confusion written across her face.  "You need to come with me to the dungeons, there's a task that Professor Snape wants you to do." Hopefully, word wouldn't have gotten out of Snape being a traitor.  It was an embarrassment to Voldemort, and Hermione thought that his pride would have him keep the matter as private as possible.  Sure enough, Anna's eyes widened slightly, and she nodded, packing up her things.  Hermione went to Flitwick, and said, softly so that the class wouldn't hear,

"There's an emergency.  All seventh years and teachers are wanted in the Great Hall immediately.  Could you please take everyone there after Anna and I have gone to the dungeons?"

"Yes, yes, of course," Flitwick replied, asking no questions.  Hermione suddenly wondered if she'd given the man enough credit all along.  Perhaps there was more to him than the façade he put up.

Anna tapped her on the shoulder.  "We're going?"

"Yes, we are."  They left the classroom.

"So, you disappeared." Anna said.  "Where were you?"

"I was…" Hermione didn't know quite what to say, and then decided that a slightly edited truth would make this whole situation a lot more easy. "I don't think I should say, but… well, you're one of…" Hermione pointed to her own forearm, covered by her robes, and Anna nodded. 

"So that's where you were." She smirked.  "Friend to the boy wonder, and you did it?  I would never have thought… there's more to you than there appears, isn't there?"

Hermione laughed, feeling slightly sick.  Oh, there was a lot more.  And Anna a deatheater… she could barely believe it.  Then she had another idea.  "Professor Snape gave me a list, perhaps you could look at it?  I mean, in case more have joined since… we left."

"Oh, yes, sure." Anna said, taking the parchment from Hermione. 

"No, this is pretty up to date." She replied after a second.  "Except for Malfoy, of course.  He should be on there, the little suck-up.  He's wormed his way right into the inner circle, he has." Her look was contemptuous.  "So why were you gone so long?  Our master branded me and that was it." then she looked at Hermione knowingly.  "But then, your figure… yes, I do see.  Excuse me for not realising."

"That's… quite alright," Hermione replied, half-guessing what Anna was talking about, and not wanting to think about it.  "Snape wants potions brewed.  He says that there's something big coming up, although he won't tell me what.  He says sleeping draughts, stunning potions, and simple healing potions need to be brewed.

"Of course." Was Anna's response.  Then they arrived at the Potions classroom, and Hermione was extremely grateful.  Anna's calm attitude was unnerving her, especially since the girl actually seemed, well, nice!

Again, Hermione knocked on the door, and again she entered without waiting for an answer.  Gryffindors and Slytherins were inside.  Apparently, though, the lack of Professor Snape made them all rowdy, and the substitute, a short, flustered-looking man, had given up all attempts to calm them.  Hermione shouted, at the top of her voice, "Shut up!"  There was sudden, complete silence, and all heads whipped towards her.  She smirked.  She had always wanted to do that.

"So, the mud-blood's back." Draco said.  Harry and Ron were sitting there with amazed grins on their faces at the sight of her, and she gave them a small smile, not wanting to blow her cover. 

"I have a message from professor Snape.  The following students," and she read from the list, not speaking Malfoy's name, "Will go with Anna here to the room at the end of the hall."  Then she turned to Anna, "Can you oversee them while I speak to the sub?  Set up cauldrons and the like?  I need to take Malfoy to Snape, to clear him.  Trelawny should come to oversee you in a minute.  God knows why, but Snape wanted her specifically."

"Strange," Anna shrugged, and then said, "Right, follow me."  The young deatheaters (as Hermione assumed them to be) followed her out.  She noticed that they were all Slytherins, and not a single Gryffindor among them.  She smiled to herself, and looked at the people left.  Malfoy was there, looking at her suspiciously.  He didn't seem miss the large presences of Crabbe and Goyle beside him.  Harry and Ron were also looking at her strangely, but said nothing.

"There's a bit of a problem, and everyone's to go to the Great Hall immediately.  You too, professor."

"Ah, yes, right then.  Come on, class." He said, and glanced at her for a moment before walking out of the classroom, everyone in tow.  The students greeted her with "hi Hermione!"  and "Glad you're okay Hermione!" But didn't actually step out of line to wait with her.  They sensed the solemnity of the occasion.  Even Harry and Ron just quickly hugged her before continuing out the door.  At last, Malfoy was the only one left.

"Why wasn't my name on that list, mudblood?" He asked her.  Suddenly, Hermione had had enough.

"Cut the crap, Malfoy.  I've spent the last couple of weeks dealing with your Dad, I'm not about to start with you.  Snape's told me what side you're on.  Now, I need to get to the Great Hall, and you need to come too.  My name, by the way, is Hermione.  Not 'mudblood.'"

With that, she swept out, doing a pretty good Snape imitation.  Malfoy came running after her. 

"Snape… he told you?" Malfoy asked, shocked.

"All he told me was that you shouldn't be going with them, but with the rest of the school to the Great Hall, and that you've proved your allegiance to him.  I didn't ask more.  Frankly, there's no time.  The final battle's drawing near, and we need everyone we can get."

Malfoy still looked shocked.  "You trust me?"

"No, I don't.  But Snape does, and that's enough."

"Dad – told me what happened.  I, um… well, I thought you were still there.  This… what you've seen of me, isn't me."

Hermione wondered if he was trying to apologise.  "A civil Malfoy?  I never thought I'd see that day," she commented lightly.

"Well, I'm different to my dad.  And I did want to say sorry for calling you mudblood."

They were at the Great Hall now.  "Um… thanks, I guess."

He smirked.  "Shocked you, didn't I?  I play my character well."

"Yeah.  Acting an arrogant spoiled brat doesn't come hard to you, does it?"  Then she realised that perhaps she was being a bit harsh.  "Okay, sorry.  Truce?"

"Truce.  We need to go in."

"Yeah."  They walked in, to find that there was silence.  Everybody was looking at them, including all the teachers who were now gathered at the head table.

"Good, you've arrived," Dumbledore said.  "Miss Granger, will you please come to the front?  You too, Mr Malfoy."

Suddenly nervous, Hermione did as she had been told.  Once she was standing at the front, Dumbledore continued.

"Last term, Miss Granger and Professor Snape brewed a potion that cures vampires.  They tested it successfully, and, on the first day of the Christmas holidays, went to the ministry to register, test, and explain this new potion.  While there, they were kidnapped by Voldemort."  There were gasps of shock.  Hermione found it all too melodramatic, but said nothing.  Snape, standing beside her, was tense.  His lips were drawn into a thin line, and he was scowling out at their audience. 

"Very few people know, but Professor Snape has risked his life for the past twenty years as a deatheater spy for our side.  He has brought us countless pieces of vital information, while at the same time feeding incorrect information to Voldemort.  He has suffered the Cruciatus curse many times, dealing with pain and near-death experiences for the last twenty years to keep all of us safe.  Draco Malfoy, has done much the same thing to a lesser extent for the last two years.

The school seemed to be in shock.  There was not a whisper.  Dumbledore continued, "While kidnapped, Hermione and Severus were forced to brew potions for Voldemort, but managed, under extremely harsh and difficult situations, if I might add, to not only brew a Flue potion, from which they made Floo powder and escaped, but they also arranged it so that Voldemort will shortly fall unconscious, with a temporary loss of powers for the duration.  If all goes according to plan, he will fall and Apparation wards will be deactivated within the hour.  I want all of you to participate.  As seventh years, you will each do your duty to the school.  Very few of you will be allowed on the battlefield itself.  Most of you will be asked to care for the other students in the school or see to the wounded from the upcoming battle.  Any who feel qualified to assist in the battle itself must come to me immediately.  As for the rest of you, I suggest you go to Madame Pomfrey for last minute medi-wizardry training to supplement what you already know.  And now,"

"Dumbledore!" Snape said, from next Hermione suddenly.  "My mark is fading."

"As is mine," Malfoy said softly, but loud enough to be heard.

"It is time." 

The next fifteen minutes were a complete blur.  People were rushing everywhere, doing as Dumbledore commanding.  He looked regal, powerful, and very much the strong wizard that Voldemort feared.  He was no longer their eccentric headmaster, but a general, leading his troops off to battle.  At the end of those fifteen minutes, Hermione was standing between Ron and Malfoy (partly to keep them apart) around a plate that was to be used a portkey.  They would be backups, along with the other students going.  There were only twenty in all.  They and most of the teachers would cover all exits to the castle, while Severus, Dumbledore, Harry, and half of the Aurors would go in search of Voldemort.  The rest of the Aurors would scour the grounds and the passages inside the castle for deatheaters, with orders to stun or kill them.

After so much fear, worry, and panic, the results were anticlimactic.  For Hermione's part, she stood, covering one of the entrances with Malfoy, waiting for anyone to escape.  They stood there for what was probably half an hour, and then she was suddenly back at Hogwarts, along with the rest of the school.  Dumbledore explained that he had turned their Hogwarts robes into portkey, and had then said that Snape and Harry together had killed Voldemort.  Everyone was cheering, crying, laughing, and dancing, but Hermione saw Snape slink off out of the hall as soon as he possibly could. 

Looking at Harry and Ron, both of whom were completely surrounded by giggling girls, Hermione decided she wouldn't be missed.  She hurried after Snape.  He went, not surprisingly, in the direction of the dungeons, with Hermione scurrying after him.  Then he stopped in front of the door with the 'young deatheaters' and Hermione realised that, in the confusion, everybody had forgotten all about them.  Before Snape could open the door, she caught up with him and laid a hand on his shoulder. 

He must not have heard her coming, because he jumped and whirled around, and then rolled his eyes and smiled slightly when he saw Hermione.

"You followed me?" He asked, eyebrow raised.

"Yes," she replied, unabashed.

"This might be… quite dangerous."

"I know.  Can I come in with you?"

"I would rather you didn't."

"Can I anyway?"

Snape smiled wryly.  "I would rather not face the consequences of stopping you, truth be told.  But follow my lead, if you please."

"Of course." Snape took his wand out, and Hermione did the same.  Then he opened the door, Hermione close on his heels. 

Anna immediately stood.  "What happened?" she asked.  They were all in there, although not brewing potions.  They had apparently run out of details, and Trelawny was getting quite agitated trying to explain to them why they couldn't leave to get more. 

"Before I answer that question in full, I want all of the complete potions bottled up.  After I tell you what has happened, there will be much celebration and I doubt that this will be bottled."

"Yes sir," Anna replied.  She seemed to be the spokesperson for the room.  Strangely, though, her face was carefully blank at the 'good' news, although most of the rest of the room were grinning and cheering. 

"Bottle it all," Snape said to everyone.  They began doing so, while Snape, Hermione, and Trelawny stood to the side. 

"What happened?" Trelawny whispered. 

"You don't already know?" Snape asked in mock surprise.

"I do!" she said crossly, "I just want verification." 

"Of course.  Voldemort is dead." Snape said, very, very softly.

"Good!" Trelawny broke into a grin. 

"Yes, it is.  Now, when I do this, don't breathe it."  The last was addressed to Hermione and Trelawny alone, and they both nodded.  All the potions were bottled, now, and everybody was looking at Snape expectantly.

From a pocket of his robes, Snape took a glass bottle full of pale liquid.

"Do you see what this is?" He asked, letting his soft voice carry through the entire room.  There were nods of assent.  "Then watch."  With a graceful movement, Snape flung the bottle to the ceiling.  Hermione realised instantly, and held her breath.  Within seconds, the entire room was on the floor, except Snape and Hermione.  Snape opened the door, holding it for Hermione, who ran through.  Snape followed.  Trelawny didn't.  She was asleep on the floor.  Snape slammed the door shut, and turned to Hermione.

"She didn't listen," he said, smiling.

"Nope." Hermione laughed. 

"So, what do we do with them?"

"We clear up the mess.  Firstly, we suck the fumes out," and he proceeded to do just that.  With his wand in the door's keyhole, he muttered something that sounded vaguely like 'oxygen,' and then waited a moment.  Then he opened the door cautiously, and stepped in.  A moment later, he called out to Hermione, "You can come in.  It's safe."

Hermione entered cautiously.  "Okay, what now?"

"We take their wands off them."  Snape moved to the first person, who happened to be Crabbe, and went through his pockets, trying to find his wand.  Hermione laughed.

"Severus?" She said, smiling.

"Yes?" he asked warily.  He had become used to that smile. 

"Accio Wands!" She said, and all the wands in the room flew towards her hand.

"Show-off," Severus muttered.  "Now, my wand, if you please?"

"But- didn't Voldemort keep your wand?"

"Yes, but I got it back."

"Oh." 

"So may I have it back?"

"Um, which one is it?" Both of her hands were filled with wands from the people in the room.

"That one," and he took his wand from her grip.  "Thankyou."

"Um, you're welcome."

"Now, we deal with these people.  Why don't you put the wands over there," he gestured to a bench.  "And perhaps we should leave her asleep?"

"Yes!" Hermione said.  "Please."  Severus smiled.

They tied each of the deatheaters up in ropes so that they could not escape, and then left them lying on the floor.  Since they should not wake until the next afternoon, Hermione and Snape left, forgetting Trelawny where she lay on the floor.

Severus walked deeper into the dungeons, and Hermione followed, unsure as to where they were going, but not wanting to separate herself from Severus just yet.

They ended up at his chambers, and Severus motioned for Hermione to precede him.  She did, and sat immediately on one of his couches in front of the fireplace.  Severus actually lit the fire, which Hermione suspected was not lit often, and then he sat on the couch next to Hermione.

"So." Hermione said.  The results of the day were just beginning to catch up with her.  "I can barely believe that this morning we were in Voldemort's castle.  Now we're here, and he's gone, and… it doesn't seem real."

"No, it doesn't."

"Are you sure… I mean, will he come back again, like last time?" Hermione asked hesitantly.

"No.  Last time he had drank many potions and performed many rituals for his immortality.  When his body died, his soul lived on, but lost its immortality, because that was rooted in his body.  He didn't renew everything in his new body, so this time he really died."

"What happened in the castle?"

"Oh, it was simple, really.  We walked in, found the room with Voldemort pretty quickly, and he was on the floor in there surrounded by all of his deatheaters.  It was anticlimactic, really – too easy to be believed.  They were all there, though.  All except the Hogwarts ones."

"So you killed them?"

"Yes." Snape's face was closed. "We didn't have a choice.  They were all unwavering in their loyalty to Voldemort.  We had to kill all of them before we got to Voldemort himself.  They all thought they couldn't Apparate, and they wouldn't escape without taking Voldemort with them.  I assume they thought him immortal, and didn't want to be punished when he came back to life."

"Wow.  It's… pretty unbelievable."

"It is." 

They sat in silence for a while.  Then Hermione said, "So what happens now?"

"With Voldemort, with your schooling, or with us?"

"Well, all of them, I guess."

"Voldemort's finished.  There will be countless interviews, mainly with the two of us, and Potter, and then everything will die down. The wizarding world will forget Voldemort even existed, except in textbooks."

"Human nature." Hermione smiled bitterly.  "Can't be changed."

"Not on the mass scale, no," Severus admitted.  "Now, your schooling?"

"I guess we speak with Dumbledore in a couple of days."

"I'll approach him on the subject tomorrow."

"Thankyou, Severus."

"You're welcome, of course."

"I guess the rest will sort itself out?"

"It will.  It always does."