Hermione stumbled, bloodied and limping to check on her fallen comrades. She glanced behind to Harry, blue light pouring from his wand into Voldemort. All around them Death Eaters clutched their brands and stumbled, each lending his power to his master before he fell. Each Death Eater that fell brought Voldemort closer to destruction, when there was no more power to drawn from his slaves he himself would fall. The Dark followers who had never been branded fought on. Hermione checked Ron's breathing before applying a stasis charm, he would be fine, he would be fine, he could be fine.

There was a weak cry of "Crucio" and her head whipped round to find its source. She saw Snape fall to his knees, wand flying from his grip. Across the field, now heaving with the dead and dying, stood a few lone Dark wizards. Their wands flung out, their lips moving. It was uncoordinated, unplanned fury. They lashed out at the traitor in their midst. Hermione watched helpless as Snape was flung back by the force of the combined curses, colours merged and settled over the area where his body must now lay and slowly dissipated. She would find her way there at some point, or someone would. A hand grabbed her leg limply and she looked down, Cho! She put her in stasis and then reached over her to cover Professor Flitwick's body with his bloodied robe. Hagrid loudly and emotionally reunited with Fang somewhere in the distance, at least he was alive. The blue light from Harry's prolonged curse suddenly died. Hermione's frightened eyes flew round to the newly abated battle, Voldemort's skeleton lay jumbled at the feet of a shocked, relieved and decidedly drained Harry. Her shout of joy escaped her throat without forethought, Harry's head whipped round and in the first moment of positive feeling to flow since battle began – they shared a smile that lit their eyes. As if it was his place to announce such things, Fawkes sailed onto the battlefield and landed neatly on Voldemort's bones, lifting her phoenix song to the clouds in the mumbling quiet of the hot stinking battleground.

Harry switched his gaze from Hermione's to the wand lying at his feet. Slowly he stooped to retrieve it, Voldemort's wand. Hermione tried to scream "No!" but no sound came out. Harry held the wand point to point with his own wand.

"Priori Incantum"

The ethereal forms of those destroyed by the Dark Lord's own wand leapt from its tip, releasing their spirits. Hermione kept one eye on what Harry was doing as she stumbled around trying to find those to help. She tripped over something, someone, Rolanda Hooch. Hermione turned away swiftly and bumped noses with Pomona Spout's Crucioed corpse. The stench of her vomit was barely noticeable amidst the reek of the dead. Her hand closed around a wand, Snape's wand. She swung around looking for his body. The Slitherin crest glinted green in the emerging sunlight and she scrabbled over to it. Whatever combination of curses had hit the Potions Master hadn't left much behind. His cloak was caked in blood; you could have excused someone for thinking that the cloak had merely got coated in the gore of battle once dropped. But Hermione had seen Snape fall wearing the cloak and the fatty gunge atop the familiar clothing looked very similar to the shape of a human body. Her stomach lurched again. No-one deserved this; these should be no-one's last moments. She cried with joy when she saw Professor McGonagall moving towards her; neither had ever thought that the embrace of another could provide so much comfort. McGonagall clamped her hand around Snape's wand to take it from her.

"Harry" she cried. The young man spun round to face his former teacher.

"Try this one." she threw the wand to the young hero and clearly shouted "Albus!" as though that would explain everything. Hermione looked at her in confusion.

"That was Snape's wand"

"Watch" instructed the older woman kindly. Hermione watched.

Harry placed Snape's wand in connection with the other two and repeated his "priori incantum". Various forms flew out of Snape's wand, all of them Death Eater's. She had seen one attack Ron; another had been chasing her at one point, then finally out leapt Albus Dumbledore. Harry pointed all three wands at the spirit form of his old friend and whispered "Ostendo. Constantium Reformus." The form grew colour and definition, wisps became whiskers, and the impression grew manifold until the man stood flesh before them. Hermione gasped and clutched at McGonagall, McGonagall stared wide-eyed. As did Albus Dumbledore himself: first at Harry, then the bones, his phoenix, the battlefield, the two women clutching each other in a field of damaged friends, Harry again, the three wands, himself, Harry. Harry collapsed; Dumbledore caught him and lowered him softly to the ground.

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Albus Dumbledore was weeping as the last of the coffins was levitated into the ground. Not loud enough to be disconcerting to others, but enough that he couldn't keep it in. So many lives lost and here he was, beyond all hope, returned to bury them. Filius Flitwick, Pomono Sprout, Severus Snape, Rolanda Hooch, Kingsley Shacklebolt, Mad Eye Moody, Nymphadora Tonks, Percy Weasley, Charlie Weasley, Bill Weasley and the children, so many children. He had not been able to attend all the funerals, no matter that he was constantly travelling from one funeral to another. The remains of Filius, Severus, Pomono and Rolanda were buried in the grounds of Hogwarts and it was here that he wept and scattered scant offering across the four graves that comprised, in part, the memorial to courage – their's and that of all those from the school who had lost their lives in battle.

Albus limped up to the medical wing. St. Mungo's was so overrun that all those who had a connection to Hogwarts had been brought back here after emergency care had been completed. Neville Longbottom, Luna Lovegood, Cho Chang, Arthur Weasley and Oliver Wood were all in comas. It was thought that none would survive at first, then that all would; now it looked like only Neville and Arthur would pull through. So many curses were batted about that day that it was difficult to tell what exactly one was dealing with. Poppy ran from bed to bed amongst the comatose, ailing and recovering, to help each patient as much as possible. She had done more work in the past two weeks than in the rest of her career put together, but she didn't stop to think about it, she went on and on and on relentlessly. Dumbledore had reached the middle of the ward when they lost Luna Lovegood. He reached over and gently placed a hand over her eyes, he looked as though he could never find joy in anything again. The hope had been almost beaten out him at a time when there should have been so much to look forward to. There was no Dark Lord to threaten the existence of everything they held dear. It was at such a tremendous price though and it felt despicable to believe that it was worth the price, no matter how much toll the pain of that took.

He sat down on the edge of Molly Weasley's bed and took her hand. Her husband and youngest son both had beds of their own. Thankfully some of the family had been spared, Fred and George seemed relatively unscathed and despite her drained pallor Ginny was in good health. She clutched the hand of her boyfriend and saviour as though she was his only anchor to life. Harry's magic and strength had been drained and he was weak but thankfully he would recover fully, as would Ron. Hermione was working at St. Mungo's. She would have to use a stick for the rest of her life, but it wasn't an addition that her character couldn't cope with. She moved from patient to nurse with all the fluidity it took to slip off her bed and catch the potion her nurse let slip through tired fingers. She worked as ceaselessly as Poppy.

TBC