A/N: As always, terribly sorry for taking so long on this! This is the last chapter; the finale, the final showdown, and finally this awful story will be over with. ;) A bit of bad news at the bottom .... but read the last chapter first.

Tindabedina - Here ya go! Star Fish - Unfortunately, see note at bottom, I have noooo ideas for a sequel ... I've got lots of other stories in the writing, though! Kacie Michelle - hope you like, and hope you return for different stories! Calvin Potterson - do you read HP? I think I saw, was it your story or did you just review it, a Calvin & Hobbes story wherein they go on the internet and pretend to be designers for his dad's company? Anyway, email me if you need beta-ing. Corinne Cassandra Valard - thanks, sorry for making you wait, and hope you enjoy! Eugenia - I'll email you soon, sorry I didn't send this chapter to you first but I really wanted to get it out. Thea - don't you dare. DON'T YOU DARE. Fallen*Angel - hit the nose on the first try. I discovered that while writing this story .. I must have remembered it from seeing that movie and thought I came up with it myself. Anyway, thanks - I don't often get that sort of frank reviews.

Thankees very much to Me Myself and I for beta-ing! (A long, long time ago, and if you read this, where is Missed Chance?? ;)

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"Harry!" Hermione yelled, rushing forward. She helped pull Harry forward. "Harry, what the devil did you do?"

"Hermione!" Taking her by complete surprise, Harry looked up at her and threw his arms around her. "You're all right!"

"Not for long I'm not," Hermione gasped, torn between amazement and fondness for Harry, "if you keep squeezing me like that!"

He loosened his grip, reaching up and touching her hair almost reverently. "Hermione, I'm so sorry - I never should have doubted you -"

But their reunion was sharply broken by Lystra's scream of absolute fury.

"I killed you!" she screamed, stamping her foot, her hair shaking around her in disarray. "How the hell are you back here?!"

Harry shook his head, his arms protectively around Hermione. "I don't know," he said. "I really don't know. All I know is, I was in a sort of half-coma, I think - Ron was there - and I was wishing so hard to be with you -"

"So was I!" Hermione said, staring at him. "Just before you came alive - I was wishing with all my heart for you to come and help me."

"You were?"

"Yeah," Hermione said, vaguely embarrassed.

"It doesn't matter," Lystra said between clenched teeth in a voice full of nails. Her perfectly shaped long fingernails were digging into her palms. "I can kill you now."

Harry reached into his pocket and whipped out his wand in a flash.

"Try it," he said grimly.

Lystra stared at him. Then, suddenly, a wide grin spread across her face, one that sent a chill up both Harry and Hermione's spines.

"Harry, I know that look. She's-" Hermione started in alarm.

But too late. Lystra moved with inhuman speed to snatch Harry's wand away from him. Harry blinked in surprise at his empty hand.

"That's - impossible," he managed at last. "No one's that fast!"

"I am," said Lystra, smiling. She held up his wand and swung it back and forth in front of him. "Remember, I am not human. I am creation of Lord Voldemort's."

She smiled, showing every one of those straight white even teeth.

"I shall enjoy killing you," she whispered.

Her deep turquoise eyes burned into Harry's green. Each determined, one gleefully so, one stolidly so.

With an inhuman shriek, Lystra leapt into the air with lightning-fast speed and kicked Harry in the center of his chest. He went flying across the room and landed against the wall, stunned.

"Harry!" Hermione screamed.

Dazed, Harry lifted his head, only to have Lystra lift him again. She heaved him with unbelievable strength towards the floor - it cracked, and Harry yelped as splinters from the wood dug into his sides.

"Oh, no, Harry!" Hermione picked up her own wand and ran towards Lystra and Harry with it. "Hey, Lystra! Take this! Expelliarmus!"

But (reminding Hermione eerily of Voldemort) the spell bounced off Lystra's outstretched hand. "Easy," she snarled. "I've got blocks for all your petty spells."

Hermione gripped her wand even tighter. Lystra smirked, and quick as a flash, grabbed Harry by the leg and lifted him upside down.

"Your boyfriend's going down," Lystra taunted, "and there's nothing you can do about it!"

Harry, upside down, caught Hermione's eye.

"Don't worry," he said.

Don't worry! Like you've got the situation under control!

"You can do it, Hermione!" he yelled. "I know you can!"

"Do what?" she screamed at him, panicking, racking her brains for spells that could possibly help.

Then it came to her:

The Power-Transfer Spell!

They'd practiced it in Charms, and Neville had accidentally transferred his power to a plant, making it grow out of control.

Well, if he could do that to a plant, couldn't she transfer her power to Harry?

"Pass Energy!" she yelled without a second thought, pointing her wand at Harry.

It was a horrible feeling - her life was being sucked out of her - her wand was getting heavy, so heavy to hold - she couldn't stay on her feet any longer, she was going to collapse - I've got to hold on, for Harry -

A bright red bolt was gathering at the tip of her wand. She felt like her whole body was being sucked into a vaccuum cleaner. She could feel the power at the end of her wand, pulsing, throbbing under her fingers.

Until finally, she could hold on no longer.

The bright red bolt shot across the room and towards Harry .. it dissolved into him as it hit his chest ..

Hermione's knees buckled beneath her and she collapsed into cool darkness .. hoping that she had done the right thing.

*

Across the room, Harry dropped onto the floor as Lystra let him go. He felt the red spell of Hermione's life dissolve into his, and it was weird .. Strength like he had just awakened, refreshed and ready to go - was coursing through his entire body. His eyes snapped open.

He stared up at Lystra, who was staring back at him with fear in her eyes. Strange because he had never seen it in her before.

"This one's for Ron," he growled, and leaping to his feet, he jumped up - and kicked Lystra. He sent her flying across the room just like him.

Lystra leapt to her feet, enraged. "How dare you!" she breathed. "I'll get you for that!" She flew back across the room and began to punch and kick him with all her might.

He thought he was moving at normal speed, yet there was a slowness to everything else, so he found it easy to dodge Lystra's frenzied attacks.

"And this one's for me.." he got off a good punch, right to her face. It kind of tugged at his sense of rightness, hitting a girl like that, but he told himself she well deserved it.

Lystra screamed and staggered backwards, her hand to her nose, which was beginning to bleed .. not normal blood, either. It was a very weird shade of purply-green.

"You're not human," Harry gasped, staring at her. "You're something .. else!"

"You're a fool!" she rasped, her breath coming in gasps too. "I am not .. defeated .. I cannot be defeated, for I have Lord Voldemort's strength.."

Harry gaped at her. Crap!

"What are you?"

Lystra straightened, her eyes glowing, wiping the last of the strange-colored blood off her face. "I am a Death Angel! I am not like any others on this earth. I sprung from death ... Lord Voldemort used ancient Dark magic to create me, me and the other Death Angels. Our strength comes from hundreds of people, all the people he's ever killed ... did you know that when something dies, a burst of energy rushes out of them? It's the energy that they used to live, and it's invisible, but it's there. You can tap the energy ..." She grinned. "You can use it to create more life. Me."

"And there are more like you?"

"That," she smiled, "is most certainly...."

She leaned in close to him.

"....a diversion!" she screamed, and drew her fist back and punched him with the energy of a hundred dead people.

He managed to dodge most of it, but her clenched fist caught the side of his head. It was fire across his scalp. He stumbled to the side as Lystra whipped around to face him again.

"You're an idiot, Harry Potter," she told him grimly. "You think you can defeat me, but I've got news for you, you can't!" She kicked him; he dodged it. "Not even with your little girlfriend's strength. Too smart for her own good, that witch."

Harry grunted as he ducked beneath another uppercut. "Just as smart as you, I guess, because she found out your secret!"

"She was lucky," Lystra spat, whipping around and catching him neatly in the head with her foot. He crumpled, sprawling on the floor, and found himself looking up at her as she leaned over him, grinning.

"I beat you, Harry Potter," she said triumphantly, planting a foot on his chest. "Just like all the others. And here I thought I would have a challenge."

Harry stared up into her eerie turquoise eyes. There seemed to be nothing else to do.

Something touched his arm; he threw his head to the side, and saw Hermione. They had worked their way to where she was lying on the floor. Her brown eyes were still closed, but she was touching his hand with something. A ring, with a black pearl on it. The one Lystra always wore. Why did Hermione have it?

Lystra saw it. In a split second, Harry saw her eyes widen in fear. He clenched his hand around the ring just before Lystra swooped down with lightning speed to steal it.

"Give me that," she spat, jamming her heel into his chest.

Harry gasped out air. "You want it?" he managed.

"Give it to me," she repeated viciously, her eyes blazing.

Harry shook his head. If she wanted it so badly, then it was probably dangerous. He concentrated all his might, all his and Hermione's.

"NO!" he yelled, springing up and flinging her off him. She tumbled backwards with a scream. Harry threw the pearl ring on the ground and held his foot over it.

"This one's for Hermione!" he yelled.

Lystra let out a moan of despair.

Harry stomped down on it with all his might.

It shattered. So did Lystra.

The pearl ground into powder beneath his foot.

A horrible, piercing scream split the air, driving into Harry's very bones, making him slap his hands to his ears in a fruitless effort to block out Lystra's death throes.

And Lystra exploded.

She just flew apart into a million pieces, cloth, black hair strands, little metal wires scattering everywhere. Harry gaped in amazement.

There were only scraps left of her.

Slowly, Harry let out a deep breath. He sank to his knees, touching the pile of black powder that was once a ring and let out a great sigh of relief.

It was over.

*

In the hospital wing, Ron blinked.

Lavender, who had been dozing slightly on his shoulder, opened her eyes sleepily. Had she just been dreaming? Was Ron really awake?

Ron blinked again. Then he stirred, trying to get Lavender's weight off his shoulder.

The next moment, his eardrums were shattering by a piercing scream.

"RON!"

Lavender leapt up from the bed and threw her arms around him. "Ron, Ron, Ron, you're awake! Oh, I'm so glad!"

"I'm glad to see you too, Lavender," Ron mumbled, letting her hug him tightly to her.

"Good job, Harry," he whispered into the crook of her arm.

*

But Harry wasn't celebrating.

"Come on, Hermione, wake up," he pleaded.

Hermione was in his arms now, unconscious, her head lolling to the side. She looked so frail now, and pitiful. How could he have let her do such a thing for him? Give him all her life-energy? What had he been thinking?

With shaking fingers he smoothed back strands of brown hair that had fallen into her face, touching the cut on her cheek where Lystra had scratched her. "Hermione, please," he whispered. "I can't lose you, I couldn't stand it if I lost anyone else, please wake up. Please. It's me, Harry. Remember how I came back to you when you needed me? I need you now. Please."

A tear, then another, slipped down his cheek and splashed on Hermione. He pressed his cheek against her hair, rocking her silently in his arms, as if his warmth could bring her back.

Something seemed to pass through him, to slip back into Hermione.

"Harry?"

It was a very faint voice, but it was there. He opened his eyes and stared into large brown ones.

"Hermione!" Harry said, too happy to say anything but her name. He clutched her to him, as if she might slip away any minute. "Hermione!"

"Easy now," she said, managing a faint smile, and pushing him away. He helped her sit up, his throat filling as he watched her. His perfect Hermione, his saving grace once again.. she was all right! She was so beautiful!

"Is Lystra..?" she questioned, looking up at him with puzzled eyes.

He nodded, his throat still too tight to speak. "She's gone. I killed her. She's dead."

"Good," Hermione said, a wry half-grin spilling across her face as she looked up at him.

Harry hugged her to him again, embarrassed to find himself shaking again. He ran a rough hand over her hair and smoothed her cheek. He had come so close to losing her.

"Hermione," he said at last.

Hermione turned to look at him.

"Will you - will you be my girlfriend again? I'm apologizing for the fight we had. I was wrong about Lystra. I'm sorry."

She laughed, a sound that filled Harry's heart with joy. "I was wrong too," she admitted. "Well, not in this case, but I've got to learn to give people a chance. Like Dumbledore does."

"A second chance? Even for Malfoy?" Harry questioned, grinning shakily at her.

"Mmmmm....yes, I suppose. Even for Malfoy."

They stood staring at each other for a few moments, then Hermione leaned forward and kissed Harry.

They were lost in each other, lost in a swirl of happiness and triumph, joy and relief in one big spiral of life, the same as Lavender and Ron were locked in a kiss above them.

Things were right again, Hermione thought with satisfaction as she leaned on Harry's comforting shoulder. They were together once again.

She had been wrong to wonder whether they belonged together; no, they were meant for each other.

For once ... and for all.

*

THE END





Epilogue....



Far, far away, at that same moment, in a sprawling mansion atop a high cliff, a fist slammed down on a wooden table. "Dammit!"

Voldemort picked up the pearl ring that he had been using to communicate with Lystra and crushed it into powder between his fingers. He glanced out the window, where endless stars winked, and strode towards the door.

"If you want a job done, you have to do it yourself," he muttered, and blasted the door to splinters.



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A/N: Here is where the story stops. I'm mortified to say that I have absolutely zero ideas for a sequel .... all the ideas I come up with seem to be horribly cliche (ex. Voldie appears at graduation night, etc.) so rather than disgrace the story furthur with an awful continuation, I'm leaving it at here. Use your imagination; give me ideas! ;) J/K. Or, if you prefer happy endings, just ignore the epilogue. However, I have been working on several other stories and they should be ready to post soon. Watch for "Star Crossed," an after-Hogwarts H/H love story, the next chapter of "Missed Chance," and "Midsummer Night's Dream" - a bit of summer fluff at the beach. Have fun, and I hope the story hasn't disappointed you too much! Maybe someday I'll return and re-write some of the worse chapters, like the first one. Cya all, and many, many thanks to anyone who had the kindness to review this poor fic. ;)

~CM