A/N: I, again, thank all of my faithful readers and reviewers for your dedication to my story. This is the last post on this story and I hope it is to your liking!! And note, the italics in this section are for a flashback. Thanks!!
The Rest of Our Lives
In the darkness of the Forbidden Forest, a war was being waged between the forces of good and evil, the creatures of the night alongside evil and the walkers of the daylight beside good. Flashes of light burst every few seconds. Cacophonous noise filled the air. The smell of burnt human flesh wrapped its way inside their nostrils as they tried their best to win the war.
Harry Potter stood gallantly among them, proud and true. All along he had known this day would come, a test of who was greater, but he never would have guessed it would have been beside fallen-devil Draco Malfoy. It was amazing how life actually worked, the sudden twists and turns as unexpected as the next day. But he wouldn't wish it any different.
"Next wave!" Harry bellowed behind him as the students and teachers alike prepared to take over for those who were racing back, fear evident on their placid faces.
"Hold!" Draco held out his left hand, ranking himself among his lover. A few moments of pure silence fell around the heartened soldiers. "Now!"
"Confringo!" "Duro!" "Incendio!" "Avis Sentri!" Cascades of other defensive spells rained around the forest, a deceptive rainbow of colors surrounding them. Yells erupted from a thicket of holly bushes. Men cloaked in black robes fled in hectic circles as their bodies became engulfed in flame. Others screamed out in agony from afar. Even though this was their third wave, no one seemed to be going down for long, and now they were running out of tactics.
Neville Longbottom, his right eye bleeding and bruised, limped to Harry's side. "How much longer is this going to last, Harry? The fifth years and under are done. Everyone above that doesn't have much strength left. We can't last the night if this continues." Despair brimmed over his tired eyes. Harry knew what he had to do.
"It's risky right now," Draco answered without pause, reading Harry's thoughts.
"I wish you wouldn't do that unless I knew," his voice was stern yet playful.
"You are the one who told me your secret."
"I know. I'm going to talk to Hermione. Try to give them encouragement. This may take a while." Then to himself he spoke, "Analytalu."
''Mione,' he said to himself, his thoughts racing across the span of the entire forest to where Hermione and twenty other laid in wait for an ambush.
Hermione answered as if she were next to him, 'I'm here.'
'What's the status?'
'We have been taking out stragglers as well as anyone who leaves the main area. It's harder than we thought. We lost one already, MacNaylor, but we've taken out about eight so far.'
'That's good. Keep it up. See if you can split into two groups and take out more that way.'
'Already though of thanks to Ron. I don't know how they are fairing though. We lost contact and I can't get a good grip on someone.' She was speaking about trying to read their thoughts as Draco could do, but it was trickier when they were farther and didn't know the incantation.
'Keep trying. Draco and I think we should go ahead with our plan.'
'So soon? Harry, I don't know that this will even work. It's just a theory!'
'I know,' he agreed, 'but it's all we have right now. Everyone's spirits are trashed and Neville just told me the fifth years and under are out for the rest of this. We have no other options.'
For a moment a tidal wave of thoughts crashed into Harry's mind, then they cleared and solidified. 'Harry, I'm not going to lie, but I'm scared.'
'We all are.'
'If you two are sure, then I will let the students with me know. We'll pull back, but only if you are absolutely sure.'
Harry heaved a great sigh that wracked his body. 'I'll never be sure, but at this point, I can try. Pull back. Get back there as quickly as you can.'
'If we aren't there in fifteen minutes, go ahead anyways. Ron and I will get them out. Good luck. We love you.'
'Love you both.' At that time he spoke the words and broke the spell. He was going to be on his own. Odd how he figured he would be gathered by his closest friends and confidants as he battled against the embodiment of all evil. Yet, here he was, alone.
"You always forget about me," a troubled voice kidded. "Have faith. I know it's hard, but we have a weapon he will never expect."
"Are you sure?"
"You already know how I feel." Draco pulled Harry closer to his body and enfolded the raven haired boy into his arms. He lightly pressed his lips to the others, lingering for a moment. Whispering, he offered himself to death, a willing sacrifice for the fight. Harry repeated the words. In an instant, a warm flush crept up their skin, enveloping the two soul mates in a dim glow. A flickering candle in a raging downpour.
"Tell them we are ready," Harry softly ordered still within the blonde's embrace, "Tell them it's time."
Draco released Harry and quickly turned to tell the party the news. It wasn't until later that he would remember those precious moments as the 'calm before the storm.'
Alone, Harry thought back to the days after Mrs. Weasley's death, something that seemed like eons ago when in truth it was a little over a month.
"These are the times when friendships and bonds are tested. Times when we need to unite to keep war at bay and peace in our hearts. From this moment on we are all connected to each other for we all have loved ones in this world we would hand ourselves over to protect. Let us begin now, while time is still by our sides, to prepare for what has been brewing: The Last War," Dumbledore announced to the Hogwarts' student body and staff after his return from the British Wizarding Institute the day before with books in hand and tears brimming in his eyes. An owl had intercepted him on his way back. He already knew about Molly's demise.
Sitting back in his seat, the Headmaster's usually twinkling eyes dulled from the pain of loss connected with Harry's shockingly green eyes. Harry nodded, knowing that this was up to him, again.
After the cheerless dinner, all but four students mutely filed out of the Hall. Hermione, Ron, Draco and Harry impatiently waited for Dumbledore. Professor McGonagall sat lifelessly in her chair at the Head Table, awaiting, too, words of comfort and planning.
In a sweep of his robes, Professor Dumbledore once again entered the Hall from the side entrance. "I do not have much to offer at this time," he began. "Let us hope I have not shattered your prayers. Everyone is needed if we are to win this war, but I am afraid the weight is upon your shoulders again Mr. Potter."
"I understand, Professor," mumbled Harry, not ready to fight for the world so soon.
"There is no need to fret. This time you will have more help in the form of Mr. Malfoy."
Startled, Harry glanced between Draco and the Headmaster. "What are you saying?"
"What I have found in these books," he motioned to the new pile of books upon the table, "on the Ardoric Relic Mr. Malfoy wears upon his neck may help us win the war. An advantage it is most certainly, what else it may be still eludes myself and the scholars at the Wizarding Institute."
Hermione fidgeted before speaking aloud. "How can the Relic be of any use? I thought it was used in the binding of two people."
"It is, Miss Granger, but you forget when two people are bound, not only their bodies are joined but their-"
"Precisely. What is created is as unique to the couple as the bond is." His attention turned again to Harry and Draco. "Can you speak of the bond you two have shaped, other than what is known within these books?"
For a moment, the boys didn't answer. Then, Draco asked, "I don't know what you want to know. When we get angry or upset some type of solid cloud forms over our heads. The cloud grows with our feelings."
"What type of cloud?"
"Electrical with a hint of fire. We don't notice it, but Hermione told us, not to mention the altercation I had with Blaise." He winced, still ashamed of what he had done to his friend. "Since we've been keeping our feelings in check no one has seen the cloud since that day."
Dumbledore mulled over the information inside his brain. He inhaled twice before continuing, "These books are vague. No one understands the bond because they cannot fully understand the people within the bond's grasp. Consistently, though, each book describes the consequences of the bond. One is the bursting of it, which affects anyone in a three kilometer radius." Pausing, the Headmaster searched the teenage faces surrounding him.
"Would we be hurt as well?" Harry ventured.
"No," Dumbledore smiled. "which is an immense relief. However the burst does drain the wizard or witch of their magical ability for a lengthened amount of time, again the books are unclear."
"Harry?" a voice called him back to the present situation. "Do you need to lie down?"
"Wha-? No, I'm fine." He shook his head as he looked into the blue-grey orbs of Draco. "Just thinking."
"I know," he smiled knowingly. "I was just asking."
"Did they rebel to the idea?"
"Not at all, they actually wanted to sing. Figured that was a bad choice."
Sighing, Harry looked up to the sky. When they had begun this evening the stars had been visible. Now they were clouded by the smoke emitting from small fires around the Forbidden Forest. ''Mione, are you guys in position?'
'Yes, Harry, we are.'
Clasping and unclasping his hands in a nervous fit, Harry stood before the gathering crowd. He shouted loud enough for them to hear, but quiet enough so the enemy wouldn't. "As many of you already know, Draco and I have created a plan to wipe out Lord Voldemort. By no means is it fool proof, but with each and everyone of you invested in this it should be. Now we diverge. Neville, take your team and lead them three kilometers West. Parvati, take yours East. Please be careful to stay out of our range. Lie in wait. I'll give you two the signal when the time is right. Hermione and Ron are on the other side of the Forest; they have split into two entities and await directions. The rest of you, stand guard here. It is far enough away from the center of the blast. Let's do this!" One hundred fists raised and filled the air. Their sign of bravery and diligence.
Twenty minutes later the five teams were in their correct positions. 'Diversion one, commence countdown, three, two and go,' Harry thought to the team leaders. Silence broke as spells bounced off of trees and rocks, nearly hitting the students themselves.
'Diversion two, commence countdown, three two and go.' Another bought of spells bounced off the ground and tore at shrubbery. Harry continued this countdown until all five teams had gone.
'Luna, can you see what the en. is doing?'
As her voice was, her thoughts were languid and lazy. 'Thoroughly mystified.'
'Thank you! Sit tight. One more wave and then we sneak in.'
After the second wave of distractions diminished, Harry took Draco's hand, leading him through the Forest's maze of bric-a-brac underneath the Invisibility Cloak. Nothing stirred around them for several minutes. The animals and half humans that once littered the Forest had fled with their wits long ago. Now all that scattered the ground was scorch marks from waylaid incantations, bits of burned off flesh and torn clothing, snagged by outstretched tree branches. Around the two the trees closed into each other, huddling together for safety, before they began to abandon one another for sunlight and water. They were now on the very outskirts of Voldemort's base camp.
'Stop here. I think something is wrong,' instructed Harry, holding his arm out to emphasize his point.
'What do you hear?'
'Nothing. I see nothing. I smell nothing. Back at camp I can smell the sweat and odors.'
'You think they moved?'
''Mione would have told us. Wouldn't she?'
'Unless they were hurt or killed.'
'I can't accept that, Draco. I won't. We prepared for this. This is our time.'
'I know,' Draco soothed, rubbing the back of Harry's arm. 'Should we continue or go back? Your call.'
'No pressure right?' He ran a hand nervously through his messy hair. 'Continue, there is no other choice.'
Beginning the last trek in their journey, Harry hoped they would be successful. This may have been the seventh time he had come face-to-face with his arch nemesis, but it didn't make it any easier; if anything, it was that much harder. Everything was riding on his back. Failure, once it came, would be crippling to the ones left behind. Whole families would be devastated now but later whole towns, states, countries would become overrun with evil and destruction. It wouldn't even matter to himself, he would be dead, but he couldn't leave innocent people to succumb to the helplessness he knew would ensue.
Draco interrupted his deceptive thoughts, 'Look.' Facing them a large circle of men and women stood in front of an upraised platform. On the misshapen platform stood a cloaked figure: Lord Voldemort himself. From their vantage point they could just make out the speech he was uttering:
"Death is before us carried on the backs of those who would help us seek vengeance. Pity the fools on the other end, but leave none alive, except Harry Potter. He is mine. The person who brings the excuse for a Wizard to me will be heftily rewarded in this life and the next." Voldemort continued with his speech but Harry was ignoring him. A small path opened to the middle of the circle where the platform had been created.
'No. It's too close to them!' Draco protested, reading his lover's thoughts.
'That path is our only chance, Draco.'
'I don't care. This isn't a suicide mission!' Edges of the cloud began to form above the blonde's hair. 'We are in this to win not to die.'
'I know that all too well. Obviously you don't.'
Growing with the anger pulsing from Draco's body, he began to shake. 'What the fuck are you talking about? Haven't I been by your side this entire time? Was I just you're bloody side-sick all this time?'
'Yes,' his tone whipped from his tongue.
'You are not some saint, Harry, you are a teenage boy, just like me. Nothing more.'
'And you are nothing more to me.' Throwing the cloak from his invisible figure, Harry burst from within the trees confines, leaving a stupefied Draco. Yelps erupted as one by one the Death Eaters noticed the boys presence pushing past them. Slowly, like walking through thick tar, Harry shoved members out of his way, desperately trying to reach the platform. Half way into the circle though arms and hands grabbed onto his robes, weighing him down, until he could move no longer. Ropes crawled their way up Harry's limbs.
"Ah, Harry Potter. I was just thinking of how to catch you. Thank you for helping me," Voldemort sneered, his scarlet eyes burned with malice. "Are you alone?"
"That's a shame. I was hoping someone would be able to watch you die. Oh well, I will have to send your beloved-" he spat the word like a nasty hairball "-Dumbledore a gift. Your glasses." Reaching forward, his arm extended, Harry's skull inflamed with pain he knew all too well. "I see your scar still hurts you. It gives me great pleasure." Removing the wire rimmed glasses from Harry's pained face, the Dark Wizard snapped them in two. "Here. This will only take a few moments."
All the while Draco stood horrified in the forest's walls. The cloud had not dissipated only grown larger for fear of his mate's survival. But when Harry looked directly at his invisible body he understood. His anger and fear was needed to ensure their win. These feelings couldn't be faked, nor could the cloud. When Draco tried to "speak" with Harry he found his thoughts blocked. Harry didn't want Draco to feel the pain running like tongues of electricity down his aching head.
"Do you have any last words?" Voldemort slyly asked though he knew the raven was in terrible anguish. "No?" He smiled wickedly, his lips curling over like an orangutan's. "Well then, goodbye Harry James Potter, you won't be missed." Raising his wand he readied his mind for the final kill. "Avada Kedav-"
A piercing screech emanated from the tree tops as body fell from the sky. Draco Malfoy, the once set Death Eater, clung desperately to a wispy tree branch. All he needed was one moment of contact and the spell would be complete.
"Kill him!" Voldemort bellowed to his awed followers. "Kill him now!"
Sprays of spells swarmed around him but the cloud around his body acted as shield. Even the Killing Curse would not penetrate its thick walls. Without hesitation, Draco jumped the rest of the ten feet to the platform where Harry stood bound and sprinted to his side. He collided with the boy's body and tumbled to the dirt as a rush of wind, electricity and fire wheeled out in a colorful torrent like a tsunami. Branches snapped, people screamed in agony, and then it was over. The wind calmed. Electricity crackled as it died. Fires popped out of existence.
Staring into the grey eyes of his very alive boyfriend, a wide smile played on Harry's flushed face. "You figured it out."
"Of course I did."
"I'm glad. I thought I was too harsh." His hands roved over the blonde's torso checking for bruises and broken bones. "The look on your face nearly made me cry, yet Dumbledore told me this was the only way to accomplish our task."
"Well it all worked out. I always thought Dumbles had cracked reasoning. Now I knew better." Helping Harry off the dirt ground, Draco untied him like a present being unwrapped. Then he gingerly grabbed Harry's hand and the two walked through the incinerated tree stumps toward the glimmering sunrise.