Harry watched as the purple light struck her squarely in the chest. Time slowed as her body arched backwards; a cry escaped her lips before she fell to the ground, hard.

Something snapped inside of him. His wand whipped up "Avada Kedavra!"

He didn't even pause to watch the killing curse strike Bellatrix. Harry fell to his knees next to her body. He swallowed his tears. "Hey, you."

She coughed up blood violently, and managed a smile. "Hey."

He gently shifted her so that she was cradled in his arms, and touched his forehead to hers. Her body shuddered as she weathered another coughing fit, and he hung onto her even as his robes became soaked with her blood.

He choked, taken aback by his own tears. "I'm so sorry."

She shook her head. "Don't."

He nodded, and rocked her softly. "Gin, I-" he swallowed hard, and into her eyes. And he knew.

"I love you."

Her eyes filled with tears. "I know. Me too."

He held her as she slipped away.

Harry stood on the platform, waiting. Behind him stood the Arch, its veil fluttering softly from the flurry of voices beyond it. Harry listened. A small smile crossed his lips as a strand of barking laughter floated by, followed by a girlish giggle and then soft spoken words:

"He's coming, Harry. We're here. You're ready."

Harry would have sworn that he saw a pair of twinkling blue eyes.

A shiver crawled up his spine when he realized that the Dark Lord had entered the room.

Voldemort fairly slunk down the steps to the veil, and smiled at Harry, amused. "How is your girlfriend, Potter?"

Harry's grip on his wand tightened. "Let's finish this."

Voldemort shook his head. "You cannot finish me, Harry Potter." A cruel smile curved over his lips.

Harry reached down his shirt and pulled out a necklace. He snapped the chain and threw it at Voldemort's feet. "Number six."

Voldemort stared at Slytherin's locket, following the intricate pattern of green stones before he snapped back to attention. "Then let us begin."

Harry raised his wand. His eyes flickered to the bloodied Sword of Gryffindor on the ground next to the arch.

That's when it hit him.

Blood.

It's always blood.

He strode forward "Accio Sword!"

Hermione knew that this was not the way it should have happened.

It certainly was not what they had planned. Right about now, they were supposed to be leaving the Ministry in triumph, wands flashing and robes stirring in the wind. They would arrive home at the Burrow and Hermione would finally, finally, get time alone with Ron. At the very least, they should have been fighting at Harry's side, not dueling with Death Eaters while Neville and Luna lay dead at their feet and their friend fought alone.

She stumbled on a stray rock, and fell back to the present.

Her body went numb when she entered the chamber with Ron. Her eyes flickered from Ginny's battered, broken body to Harry's, lying facedown on the floor with a sword protruding from his back.

"...and either must die at the hand of the other for neither can live while the other survives…"

Hermione stared in distaste at Voldemort's wand, snapped in half. Her eyes moved to the arch, and widened.

The veil was gone. Harry had done it.

"Hermione."

She turned back to see Ron kneeling by Ginny's body. His face had hardened.

She simply looked at him. "I know." She gasped at the sudden onslaught of emotion. "Oh, God help me, I know."

A giggle echoed suddenly around the room. Hermione froze. In a flash, Ron was by her side, wand drawn.

"Over here, you two."

Hermione snapped her attention back to the archway, and gasped. Between the pillars stood Ginny and Harry.

Ron choked on his own breath. "Oh, Merlin…Ginny…"

They were almost solid. They looked rather like watercolors that had begun to run together at the edges. Harry was smiling. He looked young again, his own age, as if the years he had gained so quickly had slipped back away. Ginny was leaning back against him, her hair wild and loose on her shoulders.

Hermione's eyes flickered to the bloody bodies on the ground and back to the figures in the archway.

Ginny smiled at them. "It's okay. We're okay."

Harry spoke. "It's done. Voldemort's gone. And…well. Look."

Hermione looked. Faintly, she could see the shapes of people behind them- Sirius's roguish grin, eyes that matched Harry's, and bubblegum pink hair resting on the shoulder of a man with salt-and-pepper locks.

Ron looked and saw the shape of horn-rimmed glasses, a small explosion of fireworks, and a man's scarred face.

Hermione looked back at her friends as her eyes filled with tears. "We will miss you."

Ginny's eyes filled with tears. "We'll miss you too. A lot."

Harry said, "We'll meet again, its okay. It's nice here. You two have a while yet, but we will meet again."

Ron nodded. "Take good care of her, mate." His voice was choked with tears.

Harry smiled. "I will."

Ginny blew them a kiss, and with a small nod from Harry, they were gone.

Hermione froze in her footsteps. She looked wonderingly into the atrium, at the scattered groups of people gathering together, at the Death Eaters bound and gagged by the remains of the fountain.

A part of her wanted to rush back into the awful chamber, to beg Harry and Ginny to come back to them, even to have Voldemort back, just to go back to sixth year when they were together and happy and for brief moments in time, everything was right in the world.

"Hermione."

She looked up at Ron's face. He had taken a step ahead of her. Her eyes traveled over him, from the shaggy, long hair she knew Mrs. Weasley would fuss over to the jagged scar cutting across his cheek. She looked at his broad shoulders and at the wand holster at his hip. And she shuddered slightly, because she realized that Ron was all she had left.

"Love, we have to go sometime." He held his hand out to her.

Smiling softly and still fighting back the tears, she slipped his hand into hers.

Together, they stepped out into the light.