A/N: You might hate me for this chapter, but... it had to be done. Sorry.
It's not as bad as you think. Enjoy! and thanks for all of your reviews, they were so kind and helpful!
Be on the lookout for a new story by me about the Marauders. It probably won't be out until after the 7th book (everybody celebrate!) but it should be good.
Thanks again! You're all wonderful!
And now for the final chapter...
It isn't seventh year, and probably never will be. Susan has come to terms with that.
She spends the first week of her summer with her family. Her father has stopped crying, and her mother hugs her every morning. They go to the zoo together, and the park when it is sunny. They play her mother's old board games in the sunroom and Susan makes lemonade without a wand, even though she is of age now. She feels like being classic, if only for a week.
In early June, she gets a letter from Terry, who tells her it is time. Instantly, she writes to none other than Harry Potter. As she lets Xavier go, she worries after him. The sun is not even up yet.
Two days later, his beautiful snowy owl brings a letter to her. She is surprised by his promptness. All the letter says is, "Come to the place where the One He Feared fell, on the night when the moon rises complete."
She is not sure what to make of the note, and, having never pinned Harry as being overly cryptic, is sure someone else wrote it. The handwriting is too girly anyway.
She spreads the word to all the Hufflepuffs, Terry, and Anthony Goldstein, repeating the letter word for word. She's sure they'll know what it means. She even sends one to Zacharias, with a sidenote to only come if he wants to help.
She asks her parents to come with her, but her father won't. "It's too dangerous. I don't even want you going, Susie."
Her mother is crying, and Susan opens her mouth to argue, but her father stops her. "But... I understand you're of age now. I can do nothing to stop you, can I?"
She kisses them good-bye, and Apparates with her trunk to Hogsmeade, saying only that she promises to be safe.
Being a part of the Order of the Phoenix was hard work, and Susan is not even really a member. She must train hard, casting spells she has never heard of next to people she's never met. Some people, she knows, come to the Headquarters - which is a completely secret location; Susan doesn't even know where she is - just for protection. They were asked by a very weary looking Professor Lupin if that's why they had come.
"No," Susan says, trying to sound defiant. "We're here to fight."
The other Hufflepuffs look to her, and so do Anthony and Terry. She doesn't understand why they do everything she says, until Terry explains that they figure she's got the most cause for revenge, as she's lost most of her family. Susan thinks of Hannah, who is crying out uncharateristically for revenge for her mother's death, but then realizes how fragile Hannah is looking these days. At lunch, she reminds Hannah to eat.
The Headquarters is a nice, big house, although messy and kind of creepy, with lots of dead House-Elves on the Walls. Those who are there for protection are asked to help clean up the place, and Terry suggests a spell that will remove all the nasty pictures, but it will still take months to take them all down.
People come in every day, but there always seems to be enough room. Susan shares a tiny room with Hannah, Sally-Anne, and Megan, and tries to convince herself it is not much different from being at school.
She hasn't seen Harry Potter anywhere.
She asks after him once from Ginny Weasley, who looks sour. "Him? He's upstairs in Sirius's old room, being a recluse because he thinks it's noble." Ginny rolls her eyes. "He doesn't understand that the noble thing would be to let people see him sometimes. Get the morale up, you know?"
At that moment, Ginny's older twin brothers whisk her away to their room to try out some experiment or another. They tell Susan later that it's not a good idea to get Ginny started about Harry.
"Ever since they broke up, it's rather a sore subject," says one of them (Susan can't tell if it's Fred or George). "She's been testy to everyone lately."
"While we appreciate Harry keeping our sister safe," adds the other, "you'd think he might have thought that she'd take it out on us!"
Susan feels guilty for being happy that Ginny and Harry aren't together, especially at a time like this. She shouldn't be worried about making Harry Potter fall in love with her, not now, not when a war's going on, but she can't help it. After all... he's why she's here.
One night, Susan wakes up to Hannah's groans in her sleep. Hannah's been having nightmares, which only Ernie can assuage, so Susan gets up to get him. As she climbs the stairs (she swears there were less of them when they first arrived) she looks at the door to Harry's room and wonders what he's doing.
She wakes up Ernie and sends him down to Hannah, but doesn't go back down herself. Instead, she climbs the rest of the stairs.
Hesitantly, realizing how late it is, she knocks on the door. A gruff voice makes an uncommitable noise, and Susan says softly, "It's, um... Susan. Susan Bones. I just wanted to - "
She hears the door unlatch and it opens slowly. Harry is wearing his glasses, and looks tired and wartorn, which she supposes he is. She instantly feels horrible for waking him.
"I'm sorry... This is a bad time. I'll just... I'll just go - "
"It's okay," says Harry, "I wasn't asleep. Please... come in."
There was something in his voice that Susan didn't quite recognize, and as she stepped inside the darkened room, she realized he was pleading.
He must be so lonely in this horrible room with only one lamp on. He must be so scared...
"I heard about your aunt," he says, and seemed to know how old that news was. "Last year, I mean. I... I never got to say how sorry I was."
"Thank you," Susan says. Her heart flutters as she looks about the room. Parchement and old books and bits of food are strewn about the place. It does not seem fit for human habitation, and he looks as though he hasn't shaved for a while. Oh, Harry...
"I heard about your Godfather," Susan says, trying to make conversation, and also trying to make herself seem... what? Connected to him? "I'm sorry, too."
Harry gave a stark, mirthless laugh. "Yes. Everyone's very sorry, now that he's dead. No one was sorry before, when he was alive, when we could have..."
He looks ashamed of himself, and Susan wants to tell him it's okay to still be sad. That she thinks about Aunt Amelia everyday. "It's what keeps me fighting, you know," she says. The thought is disconnected from the rest of the conversation, but Harry doesn't seem to care. He looks so weary, it's scary...
"It's just not fair!" he shouts to her surprise. "Things are not supposed to happen this way! I'm supposed to be able to do something, but all I can do is sit up here and read about Horcruxes and Hogwarts founders and I'm so angry all the time!"
Susan can't believe he's telling her all this, after all these years she'd hoped and prayed he would. She knows he's not really talking to her, just anyone with any understanding of how he feels, but she can pretend he needs her just the same.
"Harry..." she whispers gently, placing a hand on his arm. It is the first time they've touched and she feels herself stop breathing. No, she tells herself, you have to be there.
He slams his fist into the wall, making Susan jump. "I'm supposed to be able to save them!" he barks, his voice hoarse.
It is then that Susan works up the courage to tell him something she has wanted to say since she wrote him that card in first year.
"Harry," she whispers, afraid her voice will fall out if she goes much louder, "you're not alone."
He looks at her, stares at her, for several uncomfortable moments, as if she has only just arrived in the room. She will not look away, though they are standing closer than she first realized, and he is looking at her like she isn't real. I am real, she wants to scream, I'm real, and I'm here, and please say something!
Before she realizes what is happening, his arms are on her waste and his lips are on hers.
His lips are rough and chapped and his kiss is so hard it's almost bruising. He pushes her against the door roughly, and her arms go about his neck because they have no place else to be. He forces her mouth open with his tongue, and pushes and pushes. She can't believe this is actually happening, and can't help thinking, This isn't how it's supposed to be...
She pushes the thought from her mind, and kisses back, just as hard, trying to remember the strength that Zacharias's kisses gave her.
He breaks the kiss and starts to kiss her neck and her throat, just as roughly as he did her mouth. He bites the soft skin there, and she gasps. "Harry..." she whispers.
He just growls at her, and she doesn't talk again.
He is leading her to the bed, and tearing at her night gown, and she is enveloped in another bruising kiss, and all she can think is that this is Harry, and she loves him, and she can't believe this is happening, but also that this is not like Zacharias's kisses at all. This is Harry, just Harry, and she loves him.
His skin is rough against hers, and he takes but a moment to step back and look at her. "Susan... I..."
"Harry..." she whispers, and pulls him close to kiss his forehead softly, "it's okay."
He doesn't seem to need anything else, and suddenly he is moving to her and with her, and it hurts, but then so did his kiss. He is rough with her, holding her wrists down on the crimson sheets and biting at her lips and her tongue and her jaw. She wants to wrap him up in everything she is and never let him go, and he wants to devour her.
When it is over, he lays beside her and she strokes his hair and kisses his forehead again and again, and he lays his head on her chest. She is thinking that next time, it will be gentle. Next time, she will take care of him. She was taken by surprise this time, is all, but next time will be better.
She takes off his glasses and lays them on the bedside table for him. "Susan," he whispers to her, and his voice sounds oddly guilty. Susan doesn't say anything, just kisses his forehead in answer. "I'm sorry."
"Why?" she asks, and feels tense, like something is about to break.
"I don't know. Just... please... don't tell Ginny..."
And there it is. With those few words, everything Susan was denying as soon as she walked into the room comes flooding back to her. Harry hadn't needed her, he needed anybody who would come, and Ginny wouldn't come. She should have come. It should have been Ginny, Susan realizes now. Susan was only there because Harry needed to know that there was someone else who was broken in the world, even if he had to break her himself.
Harry falls asleep next to her, and she spends the night crying, whispering "I loved you" to the dark.
Susan avoids everyone now, because they all seem to be looking at her like they know what she's done. She cannot look at Hannah, or Terry, or especially Ginny. She stands with strangers when she has to be with people, and is alone anytime that she can be.
One night, she hears someone creep into the room across the hall, and hears Ginny's voice say, "Harry? What - "
"I missed you, Ginny, I'm sorry."
The words would have hurt if Susan hadn't stopped caring a long time ago. After that night, there was nothing. No hope anymore. There had always been hope, until then.
Terry finds her one evening, on the roof, which isn't safe to stand on. Susan goes there because no one else does.
"Doesn't Mrs. Weasley say this is going to break in on the house if anyone comes up here?" Terry wonders in an aloofly polite way, the way someone would talk to a great-uncle they've never met before.
"I don't care," Susan says. Sometimes she hopes it will fall in on them. Sometimes she hopes they lose, and she is killed.
Terry sits down next to her, and draws his knees up to his face in a reflection of the way she's sitting. "Hannah and I are worried about you, Susan," he says in his Terry way, where he remains calm and unflustered and just... there.
"I don't care," she repeats. Terry doesn't look at her.
"You can tell me what's happened, you know," he says, "but also you don't have to. I just miss you, that's all."
Susan looks at him, and remembers he was always the one who understood, and he even understood now that she might not want to tell him everything. And he was okay with that.
"Harry loves Ginny, you know," she informs him. "If they survive the war, he's going to marry her, and I... I haven't got any hope."
Terry looks at her, his eyes steady as he says an awful thing. "No... you haven't."
She starts to cry. Terry is just trying to be truthful, Terry was always truthful with her, but she doesn't care, she'd wanted someone to tell her that there was hope, that she still had a chance, because it had been her, not Ginny, the first time, and so it could be her, not Ginny, the rest of the times too.
"You know, Susan," Terry says, and he sounds patient and informative, like someone reading out of an encyclopedia, "Harry will never be in love with you. I'm... I'm sorry, but it's the truth. But it's not because you're not good enough for him, it's because... well... you're not right for him. And he's not right for you. He... he doesn't understand what it means, you know? To give yourself to one person completely. He has so many people he cares about, and... you... you need someone who will care about you more than anyone in the world."
Susan has stopped sobbing, and thinks back to the day Terry asked her to Hogsmeade. She thinks of Zacharias telling her that Terry had demanded he be a good date, and on the train when Mandy had said she was all he thought about.
And she thinks about all the times she had wanted to hex people for him. When she had set her Patronus on Michael Corner's. She thinks about the way she swore she'd always be there for him, since the day he sat with them on the train in first year, and she thinks that perhaps... perhaps he was really who she needed...
And then she stops thinking and starts kissing and he kisses back, so gently and politely and Terry-like that it makes her laugh. And she laughs and doesn't stop laughing until they are called down to dinner.
After the Final Battle, as it has come to be called, things turn somewhat back to normal. It will never be completely normal again, now that so many people are dead. Sally-Anne. Padma Patil. Professor Flitwick. He was the worst for Susan, who fought beside him much of the battle, and fought harder to protect his body. His wife cried for hours when Susan told her.
"Did he teach you?" asked the tiny, little woman, who Professor McGonagall said was a perfect match for Professor Flitwick.
"Yes, he... he taught me a lot," Susan told her, holding Terry's hand through it all. Terry couldn't speak - Professor Flitwick was his favorite teacher.
"He loved you students... he always told me that who he was fighting for... to give you all a chance." She gave a laugh through her tears, and asked Susan to come visit an old woman sometimes.
Susan visits her every Sunday, with Terry and a new engagement ring.
Hannah and Ernie were married a week after the Final Battle, though a hex had left a gash deep in Ernie's face, all along his cheek and down his jaw. Hannah doesn't care. Hannah would never care about something that silly. At Christmas that year, Ernie goes rigid and stares out the window for hours. Hannah says it's an effect of the curse. Ernie's much more contemplative now.
Susan still thinks he'll be Minister of Magic, and tells Hannah so. The thought makes Hannah smile.
Justin and Lavender Brown are seeing each other - they met during the Battle, and Justin saved her life. They sit in corners and whisper to each other, and just smile, sometimes with tears in their eyes. Susan likes to see him happy.
Zacharias shows up at her doorstep one night as she and Terry and a few friends are sitting down to dinner. "Susan..." he says slowly, "I feel like I should have been there... for you... for everybody... I'm sorry..."
All Susan can do is smile and hug him, because he was her first kiss, and he was the one who taught her she could be powerful. "Come in, Zacharias," she says, taking his arm, "we're just sitting down to dinner. Have you met Pansy Parkinson?"
It had surprised everyone when Pansy, Draco, and Theodore Nott had broken ranks at the Battle and started fighting for the Order. Soon many other Slytherins began fighting for them too. Professor McGonagall said that might have been what won the Battle for them.
Pansy gives Zacharias a sneer that could rival his own, and Susan can tell he's stricken. She gives Terry and Anthony and happy look over Zacharias's head, and thinks things could be better. Easier.
Terry opens his bookshop in Hogsmeade, as was Ernie's suggestion. He and Anthony are partners, and Susan suggests having more than magic books - perhaps some Muggle classics, something light. Terry instantly begins stocking the shelves with Dickens and Austen and Tolstoy. The Lord of the Rings is an instant sell-out.
Harry comes into the shop sometimes, mostly to buy gifts for Hermione Granger, Susan assumes. Hermione comes in a lot, and Susan is positive that she knows what happened between Susan and Harry. But Susan doesn't care anymore. Terry has forgiven her, and she is happy now.
The conversations with Harry are not even strained anymore. Susan won't let them be. After all, he was her first love. She doesn't want to lose all of him, just because she no longer loves him.
After all, he saved them all, as the scar on his arm shows. And the scar in his eyes.
Susan even invites him to her and Terry's wedding, six months after the Final Battle. She invites everybody who is still alive and has ever been in her life. It is the first real gathering of them all since that night when so many people died. Harry should be there, and Ginny too.
As Susan walks down the aisle, on her father's arm, she watches Terry. His eyes are brimming with tears, and his glasses are slipping down his nose, and he looks very handsome in his dress robes. He was always there for her, always understood, always hugged her tighter than anybody else. And even though she knows Harry is sitting somewhere near the back, even though Zacharias and Pansy are holding hands near the aisle, and Hannah is grinning at her from the bridesmaids, and Ernie looks like he might start sobbing, and her mother is already there... Susan has eyes only for Terry. The Boy Who Was Always There.
When she reaches him, she whispers, "You should have been in Hufflepuff, you know."
He raises an eyebrow in what she's sure he thinks is a dashing way, but actually makes his glasses slip down farther. "Why's that?"
She shrugs as she pushes his glasses back for him, smiling. "Because. You know what loyalty is."