Chapter Fifteen

The Battle

Meanwhile, back in the common room, Ginny was pacing incessantly. Hermione and Draco (who was allowed to be in Gryffindor's common room because he was Head Boy) were sitting silently on the couch, tears rolling nonchalantly down Hermione's cheeks. Ron sat on the armchair with his face buried in his hands. It hadn't hit any of them completely that Harry was about to die. They would never see him again.

Their goodbyes were incredibly tearful. Even Draco looked extremely uneasy about the whole thing. Hermione could have sworn she saw wetness mounting in the corners of his eyes, but he would never admit it, so she didn't ask. Hermione had kissed him on the cheek and thanked him for always being such an amazing friend, unable to say much more because she kept choking on her words. Ron broke down and bawled in front of his best friend for the first time in his life and the two hugged like the brothers that they were. He told him so Ginny couldn't hear that he wished they could have been brother in-laws. Harry told him that they would have been, and that was proven by the ring he gave to Ginny during their goodbye.

They had gone to a separate part of the room where she sat cuddled against him. "Harry, you really can't be leaving me."

"I have to Gin, believe me I wish it could have been different."

"It can be, Harry, we'll fight for you."

"Ginny, you don't understand. In order for Voldemort to die, I have to as well." She started to cry, knowing it was true and there was nothing she could do about it.

He had then pulled a small box out of his pocket and gave it to her. She opened it with a quizzical expression. Inside was the most beautiful diamond she had ever seen. "I found that," Harry told her.

"You found it?" Ginny looked almost offended. He gave her a ring he found on the street somewhere?

"Yes, I found it. In Godric's Hollow." Harry took it out of the box and put it on her right hand ring finger. "When we were in Godric's Hollow, I had no idea that I was going to die."

"What does that have to do with this ring?"

"We walked past a jewelry store, and I told Ron that we should stop in later so I could buy you a ring. We were on a mission at the time."

"Harry…"

"Just listen," he stopped her. "I wanted to propose to you when we got back, Ginny. I wanted to be with you for the rest of my life." He stopped and took her hand. "So, even though I'm leaving you, I wanted you to know that I did want to spend the reset of my life with you." He smiled and said, "I guess I have, actually."

"That's not funny, Harry. But, what do you mean you found the ring if you were planning on going to go to the jewelry store?"

"Well, we saw my parents' house. It was still standing and there was a memorial outside of it. Ron tried to push the gate open and it wouldn't budge. He tried to jump over it and got thrown backwards. I decided to try going through the gate, just to prove to myself that it wasn't possible, but then when I touched it, it gave way. It was like someone had enchanted it so that only I could get through if I really wanted to. I did and let Ron follow me, through."

"And you went in?" she asked.

"We did, and we closed the gate behind us. So, when we were inside, I went up to the room that I assumed was my parents'. It was still exactly the way they had left it, only dustier. I went over to look at my mother's dresser…"

"…Harry," Ginny interrupted him.

"Yes, Ginny, that ring was my mother's engagement ring, and I want you to have it. I know that's what she would have wanted, too. In fact, I think that if she were alive, she would have given it to me when I fell in love with you."

"Really?" she had asked him.

"Yes, really. I know my parents would love you just as much as I do."

Now Harry was gone. He had left her forever. "Ginny," Hermione interrupted her memory of the happenings of two hours ago.

"Hermione, he's going to live. I have this feeling in my gut, I don't know. I just know he can't die."

"Ginny, no," Ron got up from the chair, his face streaked with tears. "He's gone, Ginny. He's not coming back."

"I won't believe it until I see it, Ronald Weasley. You can't tell me that you two honestly believe that he's really going to give up on Voldemort that easily."

Hermione looked at Ron. "We do, Ginny. It's the only option he has. You heard him when he said that if there was any other way he would do it."

Ginny turned away and said, "I still won't believe it until I see it. The only reason I'm still in this common room is so that I know I'll be alive when he gets back."

"GINNY, STOP KIDDING YOURSELF! THERE'S NO WAY!"

"Don't yell at her, Ron. That's the last thing she needs."

"And the last thing I need is to have her denying it, Hermione!"

"Could everyone stop yelling, please?" Draco suddenly spoke up and everyone looked at him in shock that he had actually said something. "You two don't know Ginny's wrong," he said to Hermione and Ron. Then to Ginny, in a softer voice that Ron had never realized Draco Malfoy was capable of, "And Ginny, maybe you just shouldn't get your hopes up, okay?"

"Fine, whatever," Ginny went back to pacing.

Hermione went over to Draco and sat down next to him and took his hand. "Thank you. It's nice to have someone neutral to settle the dispute."

"It's not that I want Harry to die, it's just that I have no clue what will happen, so it's easier to see it from both points of view."

"Well, you weren't close to him, to say the least. I guess that probably makes it easier to stay calm. We're all pretty freaked out right now."

He wrapped his arm around her shoulder and kissed her cheek and they just sat like that. Hermione saw Ron look at them out of the corner of her eye, so she adjusted her head so she could see him properly. When he saw her looking, he smiled. It was his own way of giving approval of her relationship with Draco. She smiled back and mouthed, "Thank you." He nodded at her and went back to staring at the fire. Hermione closed her eyes and rested her head back on Draco's chest.

Hermione wasn't sure how long they had been like that when she heard a BANG! come from somewhere in the corridor. They all got up at once and hurried out of the common room. They went downstairs to see everyone walking out onto the grounds. Was the battle over?

They ran down to the entrance hall and moved their way out to the front of the crowd. Ginny could see Hagrid. What was he holding? Then they head that awful voice again. Voldemort was standing next to Hagrid. That could only mean one thing. "Harry Potter is dead. He was killed as he ran away, trying to save himself while you lay down your lives for him…" that had to be a lie, Ginny thought, Harry wouldn't run. "We bring you his body as proof that your hero is gone."

Ginny's world started spinning. It was like she was five years old back at the Burrow, spinning around and around watching the same scenes flash before her eyes. She spun faster and faster until her mother's screams couldn't stop her. And there was no one there when she did stop. She always came crashing down to the ground, laughing uncontrollably. Only this time, she was standing still and her brain was spinning, and she wasn't laughing, she was crying uncontrollably. She was shaking with tears. There was no one there to catch her now because Harry would have caught her. She knew he would always have caught her, but he wasn't here now. Now she could feel herself falling to the ground, literally falling, and she didn't try to remain standing. She closed her eyes and sunk. She was going to hit the ground any second…but she didn't. She fell into someone's arms. She couldn't see her rescuer, but knew someone was there.

She tried to sit up, and still she couldn't see anyone. "Who's there?"

To her surprise, she was answered. "Shh, Ginny."

"Harry…" she whispered.

"I love you," he whispered into her ear before running off.

Ginny turned and stood up. Somehow she was able to, now. Her Harry was alive. She had to find him and make sure it stayed that way. She didn't even notice that to her left, Neville was busy cutting off the head of Voldemort's snake, Nagini. She looked in the direction she felt Harry run. She could see imprints on the grass heading towards the castle. She followed him, ignoring Hermione when she shouted, "Ginny! Ginny, where are you going?" She kept running and didn't stop. Where had he gone? She couldn't find him. She panicked and ran all around the Great Hall, stopping when she saw Fred lying next to Lupin. How was it possible that she had missed it?

"Fred! Fred, wake up!" She shook him. This wasn't happening. Is this what had to happen so she could have Harry back? Did she have to lose a brother? Was it really even Harry that saved her from falling? "Fred, please!" Why hadn't anyone told her that Fred was dead? Did Ron know? He had been with her in the common room. When Fred didn't move, she threw herself down over him and began to weep. Her little body heaved with the giant sobs.

"Ginny…" Hermione had walked into the Great Hall. She stopped mid-sentence when she saw who Ginny was lying over. "Oh, no…not…"

"Yes, Hermione, Fred's dead too! Voldemort's going to pay! We have to kill him like Harry asked, c'mon." Ginny got up and was about to run out of the Great Hall when everyone from outside came rushing in.

Wands started flying and Ginny, Hermione, Draco, and Ron jumped in to fight. Ginny and Hermione got into an intense duel with Bellatrix Lestrange, and weaved in and out of spells as she shouted a few of her own, each one being dodged as well. An Avada Kedavra curse flew past Ginny's ear. Then…"NOT MY DAUGHTER, YOU BITCH!" and Mrs. Weasley flew towards the scene. She began to duel Bellatrix by herself. Bellatrix taunted her with evil words about how she was going to take Molly away from her children, and then she said the worst thing of all. She threw Fred's death back in her face. That was the last straw for Mrs. Weasley. A shot of green light flew from Mrs. Weasley's wand and hit Bellatrix over the heart. Ginny watched in horror as Voldemort turned and aimed his wand at Mrs. Weasley, wanting revenge for killing his best soldier.

What happened next nearly stopped Ginny's heart mid-beat. "Protego!" shouted Harry's voice, and he appeared out of nowhere as the Invisibility cloak slid off of him.

He was facing Voldemort. How was it that he was alive when Voldemort had told everyone he was dead? Ginny didn't care how it happened. She pressed her right hand bearing Lily Potter's ring to her heart. Harry was alive and he really would marry her one day. He had saved her mother's life, and she knew from head to toe that he would live through this final battle with the Darkest of all wizards.

Draco came up behind Hermione. "He's alive…" he whispered.

Hermione grabbed his hands and wrapped his arms around her body so he was standing behind her. She couldn't tear her eyes away from Harry and Voldemort.

"Mione, he can do this. He'll win."

"I hope you're right," she whispered. She wanted to rush to his aide and help him, but he had already yelled that he was not to be helped. He said that it had to be him. She saw Ginny standing across the Hall with her right hand pressed to her heart. She couldn't believe that Harry gave her that ring before he walked to his death. It wasn't that she thought it was silly. She thought it was the most romantic thing she had ever heard of.

She turned her attention back to Harry, whose green eyes were burning with the desire to shout a curse that shot the same color light that was in his eyes. In fact, she thought, it looked like all he would have to do was say the words, and the curse really could come from his gaze.

The two powerful wizards walked in circles, each having their wands drawn without shouting any curses. This was more than a battle of wands, and they both knew that. Harry broke the news to Voldemort that his Horcruxes were finished. What he said next explained everything she had been wondering in the last five minutes since seeing that her best friend was alive after all.

"Don't you understand why I'm alive?" Harry asked Voldemort. "You only killed the part of you that lived in me." Responding to the confused look on his enemy's face Harry said, "That's right. You didn't know you turned me into a Horcrux, did you? You put a part of you in me when you tried to kill me after killing my parents."

Hermione couldn't believe what she was hearing. Her best friend, Harry Potter, the Boy Who Lived, had a piece of Voldemort in him the whole time. In her mind, that was why he loved so deeply. It was his heart's way of fighting off the evil that had been in him all along. The love his mother had shown him was what gave him that power over the evil.

"So, Riddle," Harry said, "I guess this is it. We're equals now, and it's either me or you. It's time to decide who lives.

The Chosen One and his target stopped moving and stared each other down. Hermione couldn't look. She turned around and wrapped her arms around Draco's neck, burying her face in his shoulder. He held her tight. Draco looked at Ginny who was still standing alone. He smiled with some relief when her brothers went over to her. George, Ron, and Bill surrounded her, prepared to comfort her if need be. He saw tears making her cheeks shiny with worry. It would be the second time in one night she had to process the knowledge that he was gone.

"Well, Tom? Make your move. You know you want me dead. You've been waiting for this moment for sixteen years. Here's your chance."

There was a gasp of protest from Ginny, and Hermione dug her face further into Draco's chest.

One thing was different, this time, though. Harry never put his wand down to sacrifice himself. He was going to fight.

"Very well, Potter…Avada…"

"…Expelliarmus!..."

"…Kedavra!" Their spells met directly in the middle and Harry's spell rebounded Voldemort's Killing Curse back on himself.

There was a great hush in the Hall as Voldemort fell to his death. After everyone realized that what they had seen was the same thing everyone else had seen and that it was true, Ginny ran to Harry and threw herself into his waiting arms.

"Hermione…" Draco tried to pry her off.

"Is it over? Did Harry win?"

"He won," Draco said with a grin from ear to ear.

"He won? He won…he won!" Hermione jumped up and down and squealed. "HE WON! WE WON!" She kissed Draco without letting her toothy grin leave her face.

Across the room, Harry picked Ginny up when she threw herself onto him. She wrapped her legs around his waist, and she kissed him like never before. Ron, George, and Bill turned away, unable to watch their little sister snogging Harry like there was no tomorrow, no matter how romantic it was.

"Ginny, let me put you down." She unwrapped her legs from him and he took her right hand in both of his. He pulled off the ring and got down on one knee.

Draco and Hermione stopped kissing to look when someone "Awwed" and pointed next to them. To Hermione's surprise, it was Cho who let out the "aww." George, Bill, and Ron turned back around and Bill reached out for Fleur who just came up next to him. Mr. and Mrs. Weasley's attention was directed in to the same place, and time stopped.

Ginny smiled.

"I have to do this right, Ginny, and I want to do it now." Harry held up the ring. Ginny's brown eyes were shining with tears of joy for the second time in the last twenty-four hours. "I'm not expecting this to happen until we're older, but I want to know that I'll have you forever, no matter what."

Ginny nodded, indicating that she understood that the wedding wouldn't be happening for a few more years and Harry continued.

"Ginny Weasley, you know I love you with all of my heart and soul." She beamed and he said, "When the time is right, will you be my wife?"

"Harry, after nearly losing you twice today, I realized that I couldn't live without you. I literally felt like I wasn't breathing when Hagrid carried you out of the forest. I never want to be parted from you again. I would marry you tomorrow…er, if I weren't sixteen. But my answer is yes. When the time is right, I would love nothing more than to become your wife." Her face felt like it would break in half if she tried to smile any bigger.

Harry placed the ring back on her finger, this time on her left hand. Now it was really an engagement ring, and it really did fit perfectly, like Lily and Ginny were both meant to be Potter wives. He stood up and took her face in his hands and kissed her.

"I love you, Harry," she said.

"I love you, Ginny."

Unexpectedly, she let go of him and backed up. "What, Ginny? What is it?"

"This doesn't feel right."

"What doesn't feel right? If it's too soon, we could put it back on your right hand," Harry suggested.

"No, it's not that, it's just…Fred." She looked up at him, and then turned round to look at her family whose faces turned to frowns when they realized something was wrong. "Fred died today. I shouldn't be allowed to be this happy."

George walked over to his sister and hugged her. "Ginny, Fred would have been thrilled. He knows you'll miss him, but he wouldn't want you to stop living. He would understand how important Harry is to you. We've both said for years that one day Harry would wise up and notice you, and you'd be together forever."

"You did?"

"We did," he assured her. "He's looking down on you right now…or up at you?" Ginny let out a smile, as did everyone else who knew Fred Weasley. "Wherever he is, he's ecstatic for you. He wants you to be happy, Gin."

"George is right." Mr. and Mrs. Weasley stepped up, followed by Bill and Ron. Mr. Weasley continued, "Fred would be shaking Harry's hand right now, welcoming him to the family."

"Then you know what he would say?" Bill asked.

"What," Ginny asked.

"He'd say, 'Even though Harry's been part of the family since the day he saved your life…you two have been destined for each other since you were eleven and twelve."

"Thanks, everyone," Ginny said. Then she hugged each Weasley in turn, including Fleur.

Harry entered the circle of Weasleys as Ron pulled him into a hug. "Take care of her, Harry. You're my best mate, you know, and I wouldn't want anyone else to marry my sister."

"Thanks, Ron."

Mrs. Weasley took Harry's face in her motherly hands. "Harry, dear, we couldn't be happier for the two of you, and we're so glad to have you back."

"You gave us quite a scare," Mr. Weasley added.

Harry located Ginny in the sea of red hair. "Are we good?" he asked her as he took her hands in his.

"We're good," she said. Harry took his future wife in his arms again and held her until he was tapped on the shoulder by Hermione.

"Congratulations, you two." She hugged them both at the same time. Then she hugged Harry separately. "I'm so glad you're alive, Harry. Things wouldn't have been the same without you."

It was then that Harry noticed the necklace around her neck that Draco had given her for Christmas. "What's this?" he asked, pointing at it.

"Draco's way of putting a ring on my right hand," she replied. "My Christmas present."

"Still going through that Malfoy phase, huh?" he asked jokingly.

"Harry," she slapped him on the arm.

"I'm only joking, Hermione." He turned to Draco and shook his hand. "You've got yourself a tough one, here."

"I think I can handle it," Draco smiled. "By the way, Potter, thanks for killing Voldemort."

It was such a meaningful comment wrapped up into such a simple sentence that it sounded funny, which would explain why everyone laughed.

"Oh, no sweat," Harry laughed and slapped Draco in a brotherly way on the back.

Harry turned to Ginny. "Speaking of Christmas presents, my dear…you've gotten yours…" He gestured at his own body with his hands.

Ginny laughed. "Follow me," she said.

On the way out of the Great Hall, Harry spotted Neville. "Hang on a sec, Gin." He dragged her over to the spot where Neville was talking to Luna.

"Hey, Neville," Harry shouted.

"Harry! You had us worried, you know," Neville greeted him with enthusiasm.

"So I've heard. Listen, Neville, thanks for killing Nagini. Voldemort wouldn't have been finished without your help," Harry said.

"Actually, Harry, I didn't even know it was a big deal until Ron told me. I was just trying to make Voldemort angry." Neville's use of the Dark Lord's name surprised Harry, but he didn't comment.

"Well still, thanks, Neville. Now er, I have to go." He gestured to Ginny.

"Oh, I see. Congratulations by the way," Neville added.

"Thanks, see you later!" He ran off to join Ginny and she took him up to the North Tower.

When they were sitting by the fire in the Gryffindor common room, Ginny handed him box wrapped in scarlet wrapping parchment. Harry unwrapped it and inside was a plaque that looked like it belonged on someone's front door. It said, "The Potters Welcome You."

"Ginny, what is this?" Harry asked.

"You think you were the only one planning our future this year?"

He beamed at her. "I love it."

"There's one more thing. Look in the box."

Harry removed a layer of tissue and saw that what gave part of the cushioning for the plaque was a Weasley sweater. He laughed. "How could I go a year without one of your Mum's sweaters?"

Ginny shrugged. "She gave it to me when we were at the Burrow for Christmas and asked me to give it to you."

"I'll have to thank her," Harry said sincerely. "C'mon, let's go back down and find everyone."

There was no need. Everyone had made their way to the common room and were climbing through the portrait hole as Harry and Ginny were about to stand up.

"Hope you two are finished," said George.

"We were just about to find you," Ginny told him.

"Did you like your present?" Hermione asked. "I helped."

"I love it," Harry said and turned to Mrs. Weasley. "Thanks for the sweater, Mrs. Weasley."

"Not a problem, dear."

Everyone joined them by the fire, Hermione cuddling into Draco's lap, and Ginny sitting on Harry's to make more room on the furniture.

They spent the night talking and reminiscing about the loved ones they lost that night, and Harry was forced to recount every detail of what happened when he was in the forest. Draco was thrilled that his mother helped save Harry. He had seen her downstairs and she promised to keep his father away from him and Hermione. Then she had hugged Hermione and said she was glad Draco had such a positive influence in his life.

Hermione sat now watching her second family laugh and talk. She couldn't have asked for anything more out of this day, other than possibly having Fred, Lupin, and Tonks return to life. Seeing as that wouldn't happen, she accepted it for what it was. She turned to look at the man she knew she would grow old with. "I love you, Dray," she told him.

He kissed her. "I love you, more, Gorgeous," he replied. "Thanks for being the final piece of my puzzle."

She nuzzled against him and laughed as George recounted a hilarious memory of Fred. Good won in the end, and she could not have been prouder to be a part of this family, even if it wasn't by marriage or blood. As for Draco, the heart wanted what it wanted. If she learned one thing from falling in love with a Slytherin God it was that you shouldn't struggle with your heart, and she knew Draco had realized the same thing. Good could always come from being honest with your heart.

Author's note: Thanks for reading "Struggles of the Heart." I really hope you all liked it! Please let me know if you think this story could use a sequel. I'm not sure what to write next, and I could use some suggestions! What would you like to read about? Couples ideas, a sequel to this…? Peace -HogwartsValedictorian715