Many thanks to my beta TigerCat for proofreading this chapter.

Chapter 27- And So the War has Begun

Ron and the others waited for several hours to see if his friends would wake up. No one knew for sure how much time they had left, or what would happen when that threshold of time finally came to an end. 

Professor Dumbledore and some of the other professors checked out the wards surrounding the village at the first opportunity possible. It was believed that someone from the inside had weakened the wards in order to allow the death eaters to gain access.  Upon conducting their investigation, this allegation deemed to be entirely true. The Ministry conducted a variety of tests to verify if they could detect any magical signatures. They found only one trace of magic from the inside of the wards. Beyond a shadow of a doubt, Pansy Parkinson had aided the death eaters in waging battle against the little village of Hogsmeade.

Many of the students had cheered when the Ministry of Magic officials had escorted Pansy from the Slytherin common room all the way to the entrance of the school near the Great Hall. They made quite an example of Pansy as they paraded her through the endless hallways. She had a look of utter disbelief on her face. She protested madly all the way to the entrance that she wasn't the one who had betrayed them, but no one was buying her act. She had blindly believed that she would not be discovered in her attempts to aid the death eaters. Her stupidity for using her own wand was her ultimate demise.

She was led to a point just outside the wards where the officials would activate a portkey. The wards had been withdrawn from the village of Hogsmeade and were strongly protecting Hogwarts once again now that everyone was back into safety. Dumbledore explained to them later that she would be detained at the Ministry of Magic until her trial. If convicted, she would be the youngest person in history ever sent to Azkaban.

Everyone was exhausted from the last night's events, so they took turns watching over the two boys.  There was much to be done as well. Snape were currently looking up some more research on the spell Draco had used, while Lupin was assisting Madame Pomfrey in healing all the injured victims.  Although he was quite busy, Remus came back to check on the boys almost every half an hour or so.  Ginny and Neville were now resting back in their common room, which left Hermione and Ron currently on watch duty.

Hermione had been highly distressed and had cried herself to sleep. She was now resting uncomfortably on the chair beside Ron because she refused to go back to the common room with the others.  She was too fretted with worry to even consult a book, like she usually did when it came to manners like this.

Ron sat and listened to the stillness of the castle. He never realized just how quiet everything was at this hour. He had expected to hear the students bustling through the hallways on their way back from dinner, but they were probably all still reeling from the battle last night.  From the windows in the private hospital room, Ron could see that the sun was setting. Already a day had passed since their encounter with Voldemort. It had to be close to the time in which the spell would wear off.

Ron looked at his friends anxiously. Their lifeless bodies lay on the beds on either side of the room.  Someone had crossed their hands over the chests sometime during the day, thinking that this would make them more comfortable.  This image disturbed Ron greatly. To him, Harry and Draco looked like they were lying out waiting to be placed into their coffins. 

As much as he wanted to move their arms from that position, he couldn't make himself touch them in order to do so. What if he felt their arms and they were as cold and lifeless as they appeared to be? What if they had really died? Ron couldn't bear to think of that possibility. They had to be okay. They just had to be.

And so he waited. Daylight faded completely, and darkness filled the small hospital room. Ron lit the candles in the room, and sat down again to wait for the inevitable. Hermione began to stir beside him.

"Why is it so dark in here?" she asked.

"It's night time now, Hermione. You have been asleep for quiet awhile," said Ron.

"Why didn't you wake me?" she asked as she stretched her aching muscles. She had sat for too long in that uncomfortable postion.

"Because you were exhausted. You needed to sleep."

"Well, what time is it anyway?" she asked anxiously.

"I am not sure, but I am getting really worried. Shouldn't they have woken up by now?"

"I thought that they would by now, too," she confessed.

They sighed deeply and looked back at their sleeping forms.

Suddenly, each boy was surrounded with a bright white light, their backs arched painfully into the air as their hands grasped at the bed roughly. Each one opened their mouths wide as if they were screaming, but no sound was issued.

"What's happening!" yelled Ron.

"I don't know," said Hermione. "I am getting Madame Pomfrey." She ran out of the room frantically, yelling for the school nurse.

The aura like glow began to fade from them, and their bodies fell back against the bed once more. Ron wasn't sure if they were dead or not. Why had they acted like that?

He began to approach Harry's bed cautiously. He reached out his hand to feel Harry's pulse, but hesitated. What if he was really dead now? Before he could follow through checking on his best friend, Draco awakened on the other side of the room.

He gasped loudly and shot his upper body forward so that he was now in a seated position. He opened his eyes wide and looked around the room apprehensively. Seeing that Ron was standing over Harry, he leaped off the bed and pushed Ron out of the way.

"Harry!" Draco shouted as he sat on the bed beside his boyfriend. "You gotta wake up now!" He grabbed him by the shoulders and shook him gently searching for signs of life. Ron watched curiously, wondering what was happening.

Harry's eyelashes flickered a few times until he was finally able to open his eyes completely.

"Draco?" his voice croaked as he tried to sit up.

Seeing that Harry was indeed alive, Draco embraced him fiercely. He hugged the dark haired boy as if he were clinging on to him for dear life. Both of them were crying openly, and professing their love to one another.

Ron had no idea what they must have both experienced, but figured they might need a moment together. He left the room briefly and found Hermione and Madame Pomfrey running through the infirmary towards him.

"Hermione, they're alive They're alive!" he shouted.

"Oh, thank goodness," she said looking finally relieved.

Ron enveloped her into a hug, not caring that he was crying tears of joy.  His emotions had been so tightly strung these last 24 hours that he didn't care what anyone said of his display right now.

Madame Pomfrey brushed past them and into the private room. They followed behind her so that Hermione good see the news for herself. Ron quickly wiped his tears away as they entered the room.

They found Harry and Draco in the same position as when Ron had left them.

"Welcome back gentleman," said Madame Pomfrey. "If you would kindly untangle yourselves from each other, I would like to check you over."

Harry and Draco looked at one another and laughed. They sat beside one another on the bed as the mediwitch fussed over them. Finally seeing that they were both okay, she left to inform the headmaster and the others.

The four friends were left alone in the room together. Ron wanted to say something, but felt like he was tongue tied. How do you ask your friend what happened?  How do you explain the fear you felt over losing him?

Hermione broke the tension first. "I am so glad that you are both okay, we were so worried." She walked over to them and hugged them both at the same time. She then gave a Harry an extra special hug.

"Voldemort got away didn't he?" asked Draco.

Ron nodded at him. "After you used that spell, an explosion took place knocking everyone off of their feet. He and his fellow death eaters soon retreated. The order was unable to stop them."

"What about my father?" he asked.  Ron could see that he feared his father had escaped once again and was happy to inform him that it hadn't been the case.

"Lucius Malfoy was detained by the ministry along with nine other death eaters. Pansy has been taken into custody as well."

"Why?" asked Harry. His face looked puzzled by this new information.

"She was the one that weakened the wards and let the death eaters inside the village. She is currently awaiting trial."

Harry and Draco nodded at one another as if they understood something about the piece of information that no one else did.

Ron finally couldn't take it any longer, and walked over to Harry and embraced him warmly. "I am so glad that you are okay Harry. I was terrified to think of what life would be like with out you," he confessed. He stood back up and looked down sheepishly. He felt like an idiot for admitting that, but he knew that it meant the world to Harry to know that others cared about him.

Harry smiled at him and said, "Thanks Ron. That means more to me than you will ever know."

Ron looked at Draco and nodded. Although they were friends, he couldn't bring himself to hug the other boy. It would just be too weird.

Dumbledore appeared in the doorway followed by Snape and Lupin. He asked that he and Hermione left so that they could speak to the boys privately. Ron knew they were going to question them about what had happened. From experience, he was sure that Harry wouldn't want to talk about with him right now anyway. He wasn't sure if Harry would ever tell him what happened, but that was okay. As long as Harry was safe, Ron would be happy.

Ron and Hermione left to go find Ginny and Neville to tell them the good news.  They had been just as worried, and it would be nice to ease their minds.

They didn't see much of the two boys again until breakfast the following morning. They apparently still needed to rest after their ordeal, but Ron wasn't sure why. Hadn't they been asleep for the last twenty four hours?

Draco decided to join the Gryffindors for the morning meal despite the glares that he got from the Slytherin table.  He sat next to Harry happily and began eating feverishly. He shoveled the food on his plate into his mouth at a surprising rate. The behavior was quite out of the ordinary for this usually dainty and well mannered snob.

Hermione laughed at his behavior while eating, "Draco, you have been hanging out with us for much too long now. You are even eating like Ron."

"Hey!" said Ron through a mouthful of food.

"Sorry!  I am starving," said Draco as he polished off a piece of toast.

Harry was his usual quiet self and picked at his food while lost in his thoughts.

"You are not eating very much. Are you okay, Harry?" asked Hermione who was always concerned about his eating habits.

"Yeah, just been through a lot recently, okay?" he looked over at her like he was hoping that she would drop the subject.

"Okay," she said.

They were just about to rise and head outside since they had the day off when Dumbledore began to make a speech. Every head turn towards him in confusion. Usually he left his big announcements for dinner time.

"I apologize for interrupting your breakfasts, but my message is most urgent. As you know, Voldemort and his followers waged a battle against us on Halloween night.  He leashed upon on us the horrors of the dementors and his death eater followers, but he failed miserably.  His attempt was unsuccessful because of the combined efforts of the Order of the Phoenix, the Ministry of Magic, the village of Hogsmeade, and the fine students and professors here at Hogwarts. Remember, we are only as strong as we are united. Although we were fortunate that everyone survived the ordeal, I am saddened to say that this will not be the last we see of Voldemort and his kind. A dark shadow is approaching out little world and many dark days are upon us. The light will only prevail if we join forces against this evil threat. We will not go down without a fight….and so the war has begun!"

The End

Check out the sequel to this fic… Echoes of the Mind.

A/N: Remember, the sequel will take me much longer to write than the original. I was surprised to find the time I did to begin planning this fic. A thousand thanks to all my reviewers who encouraged me to go on… you know who you are.

Many thanks to all my reviewers! Without you I would not have felt compelled to continue writing. Sorry this chapter was shorter than usual, but I am completely burnt out and this story had to come to an end.

Rowenna- thank you for telling me that I was able to capture some originality. Its certainly hard with all the HP fic out there. Thanks for reviewing.

Maximum Poofy-Queen of AU- thanks

Tewks- thanks. By the way, did you know about the CAPS lock? lol

emerald girl- so sorry that this had to come to an end. Thanks for reviewing.

Skittles the Sugar Fairy- thanks

I Forget- I will certainly miss your reviews! Have fun in college!

Malfoy Snogger- You actually felt like you were there… that is what I exactly wanted to hear. Yay!

blackenedsoul- I know, sorry about the longer than usual update.

Ashes- thanks for reviewing.

Immortal Memories- Damn! foiled again!

ReflectionsOfReality- thanks for taking the time to write me such nice reviews. I appreciate it greatly.

Kayin-No-Kaze- you have stuck with me the longest. I will miss our conversations. *frowns sadly*

Dark Angel240- thanks for reviewing once again. Many thanks!