Author's note: Thank you to everyone who read and reviewed the story.
Some things were simple, in the end. The prophecy had been fulfilled in a way the Minister had suspected might happen—the power surge had at first empowered and then overwhelmed the three of them, as far as Dumbledore could tell. There was a time of mourning as funerals of the fighters were held. Then there was celebration as the Wizarding world breathed a common sigh of relief that Voldemort was gone for good and his supporters were tried and imprisoned for their varied crimes.
After a while, the rumors of the death of another student died down, explained away by the confusion and heartache of the battle. For several people, the confusion and pain persisted far beyond the initial onset of grief. Lavender soon learned the true meaning of loneliness as she spent her first few days without Neville talking to his presence in her mind before finally giving up the illusion that he would one day respond. Parvati helplessly watched her friend's slow descent into depression, aided rather than comforted by the constant well-wishes from friends, classmates and the community. Ron spent his hours trying to heal wounds that might never close—his heart, his body, the suffering of his friends. And Hermione resigned herself to the guilt that came with knowing she was the source of several people's grief—or had served to exacerbate it to new levels.
It wasn't just the guilt that was getting to her. Hermione had felt bad about not sharing everything with Harry, but she'd done it for a good reason, right? Or so she had told herself at first. After weeks of silence, she felt sure Harry would never see it that way. He only saw that she'd held something back from him, conspired with Dumbledore and said nothing while he got closer to his temporary death every day. He would never see how she'd argued with the Minister over telling him the truth. How she'd pleaded with Harry to think about what he'd done and try to feel something other than contempt for Snape, even after his death. Harry could only see betrayal.
Not that Hermione could blame him. Or anyone else, for that matter. She was, however, growing tired. Every day, whispers around the Great Hall and the rest of the castle. Looks from other students who'd heard rumors of Harry's death and observed the confusion of the few people who'd seen Harry lifeless on the ground as Hermione had announced he was still alive. Little bothered Hermione more than the looks she got, first from Ron and Parvati, but most often from Lavender—questioning, curious, censuring. They didn't know exactly what she'd done, would never know the full truth of it, but she could feel their resentment like a suffocating pressure on her chest every time they spoke to her, every time she walked into the common room, just before she hid behind the curtains surrounding her bed.
They all wished for Neville as strongly as Hermione had wanted to save Harry and she could offer no reason why one and not the other was still a part of their lives. She could do nothing but attempt to carry on with her life while her guilt was eating away at her, knowing she deserved every bit of contempt and envy she saw in Lavender's eyes. Knowing Harry might never forgive her for what she'd done. Not recognizing the desperate, secretive girl she'd become because of him. For him. And wanting—in spite of everything else—for Harry to love her, even if she no longer felt she deserved it.
As Hermione scanned her essay, her fingers traced absently over the spot where his necklace had rested. She'd forced herself to let go the day she'd left, hoping that Harry would forgive her in time, even if he couldn't care for her as he had before. As the days passed and Harry had written to their friends and professors, Hermione had forced herself to accept the truth. Things between them would never be as they were.
Hermione stopped writing as a shadow crossed the table where she sat in the common room. She moved her eyes over the books spread in front of her and held her breath for a few seconds before going back to her essay. She knew what Ron was going to say before he opened his mouth.
"Has he written to you yet?"
"He's not going to," she responded without looking up. Just what she needed. Her daily reminder from Ron of how she'd failed. She smudged ink on the parchment and picked up her wand quickly to clean it. A few seconds after she resumed writing, Hermione sighed. Ron was still there. She looked up. He stood watching her with his arms crossed over his chest. "Don't you have something better to do than stand over me playing statue?"
"You're being stubborn," Ron stated.
"Right," Hermione said. She put her quill down next to her essay and turned to face Ron fully. "This is my fault, is that what you're saying?"
"I'm not saying it's anyone's fault, it's just that—"
"It was my nefarious plan and therefore I should've expected Harry would hate me forever."
His eyebrows raised. "No, but—"
"So if I want him to come back, I should be the one doing the begging." Hermione arched one eyebrow. "Is that what you're saying?"
Ron looked around the room. Other students were studying for their exams and doing homework, ignoring the pair in the corner.
"Looking for reinforcements again?" she asked, remembering the ambush he'd attempted with Parvati the week before.
He turned back to Hermione, pulled out the chair across from hers and sat. "I think I need to. Someone's got to get through to you. I've never seen you this…"
"Pissed off?" she offered. "Get used to it." Hermione picked up her quill and began scanning the end of her essay. She slammed her quill to the desk and looked back at Ron, her eyes narrowed. "I did everything I could to save Harry and he couldn't spare two seconds to be grateful. Considering I've already had Lavender tell me I'm going to hell and Harry acting like I'm the devil incarnate, don't expect me to be in a chipper mood anytime soon." Hermione snatched up her quill again and drew it across the parchment in swift strokes.
"I wouldn't dream of it," Ron responded. After watching her attack her homework, resulting in the quill going through the parchment and carving into the table beneath, Ron stood. He placed one hand over Hermione's as she repaired the hole in the parchment. "I know it doesn't seem like much after all that's happened, but I really think it'll all work out in the end. Harry would have to be stupid to throw everything you have away."
"Well, he hasn't always proven himself the smartest bloke in the world, has he?" Hermione shook off Ron's hand and looked back at her homework.
Ron sighed. "It doesn't matter what you did—"
"Of course it does," Hermione said, cutting him off. "I hurt him. Period. He can't forgive me and I'm not sorry that what I did made sure he's…still around," she whispered. The admission eased a small amount of the pain weighing on her chest. As Ron's eyes widened, Hermione looked down. It wasn't surprise that had registered in his gaze, merely confirmation of what he already knew. What they all must know but had never said. Except the once.
The day Hermione had returned to school, Lavender said what they all had probably been thinking. "It doesn't matter what you've done. The rest of us have lost something precious, with nothing to remember him by but some stupid holiday he wouldn't have wanted in his name. You haven't gotten what you deserve yet, but you will. You're going to hell. Not because of what you did for Harry, but because you were too selfish to share it with the rest of us. If there was any chance at all for us to save Neville, I blame you for his not being here now." She pointed at Hermione. "Hell," Lavender had said again before letting Parvati pull her away.
That prediction had come true with eerie precision, giving rise to a misery that Hermione feared would never go away. Maybe that was what she deserved—her punishment for challenging fate and death and pretending like she'd won. Deserved or not, Hermione was quickly reaching a breaking point. She had to do something soon. Either find a way to live with what was happening or cut herself off from feeling altogether. Because living in this…this hell of her own making was more than she could take. More than anyone who'd make her mistakes should have to take.
"I refuse to be sorry for it," Hermione said. "And if you feel the same way Lavender does, that I should burn because I wanted to save him—"
'"I don't," Ron said. He watched her for a few seconds. Her eyes darted back and forth between a space in the distance and the books in front of her; her lips trembled until she pressed them together in a thin line.
He squeezed her hand. "If you need something, even just someone to talk to—" He broke off as Hermione waved one hand in the air, dismissing him. After a few more seconds, he walked away and headed towards his dorm. He hoped Harry would at least talk to her. Hermione was getting more volatile by the day. He'd thought the two solid weeks of crying had been bad, but at this rate, she was going to hurt someone before the new term started. For everyone's sake, and for Hermione's sanity, he hoped they could get back together. After all they'd been through, they deserved to be happy.
Sirius stood in the doorway of the bedroom, watching his godson in silence. Harry had been packing to leave for hours it seemed, lingering over the few clothes and books he'd brought until everything was packed away neatly in his trunk. He'd been staring at something in his hands for the better part of five minutes, so focused he hadn't heard Sirius call him from downstairs.
"Got everything you need?"
Harry jumped at the sound of godfather's voice. He turned, slipping his hand into the pocket of his jeans. But not before Sirius caught a glimpse of the necklace Hermione had left behind. "Yeah, just waiting on my mum to get back." He smiled. "Thank you for letting me stay here. I hated that I was stuck in bed all this time."
"It was no problem," Sirius said. "I was happy to have you. I'm just glad you had a chance to recover," he said slowly.
Harry looked down at scuffed toes of his sneakers. "Right. Can you believe I'm actually looking forward to going back to school for my exams? It feels like it's been ages since I've seen my friends."
"But you've talked to them, haven't you?"
Harry nodded. He kept his gaze firmly glued to the floor. Sirius couldn't blame him. He knew what was going to happen; Lily had previously attempted the same thing. Harry had been avoiding talking about everything that happened, and Hermione especially, easily becoming defensive whenever the subject was broached. Eventually, Lily had stopped trying to get inside her son's head; she settled for spending time with him and helping him gain strength. His godfather wasn't content to let him get off so easily. He might be able to push his mother away when it came to uncomfortable subjects, but after what everyone had been through, and what Harry had done to himself, someone had to get through to him.
"What about Hermione?" Sirius asked. "I get the impression you haven't talked to her since the night before she left."
Harry looked up and crossed his arms. "I think it's better this way. A mutual not speaking thing. It's not like she's sending owl after owl."
"So, you haven't written to her and she hasn't written to you and you're both just waiting for the other to make the first move?" Sirius laughed.
"I'm not waiting for—"
"Never mind. I remember what relationships are like at your age." He crossed his arms, mimicking Harry's stance. His expression sobered. "You may have to consider that after whatever you said to each other, she's not going to be willing to come to you first."
"So what if she isn't? I have every right to be upset," Harry said.
"I don't disagree. Of course, as far as Hermione knows, you'll never forgive her for her part in it, so there's no reason for to write to you first."
Harry rolled his eyes. "Why should I have to forgive her?"
"Another good point," Sirius remarked. "You don't have to do anything. It's up to you. But after all the fighting both of you did to be together, you have to decide if it makes sense to throw it all away. If it was worth fighting for before, shouldn't it be worth even more now?"
"It's not that simple."
"Few things in life are simple," Sirius responded. "You've taken on a lot of very adult things in the past few years, especially recently. All I'm saying is that you should handle your relationship with her like an adult. Talk things out. You've had time to calm down and really think over what's happened, how you feel about it and how you feel about Hermione. If this is really the end, at least talk to her about it first. If I'd ever had what you claim to have with her, I wouldn't just let it go without trying to understand why first."
He cleared his throat. "As for everything else, you have some serious thinking to do if you haven't already. What you did to Snape—"
"I don't want to talk about it," Harry said quickly. He turned away. Sirius placed a hand on his shoulder and turned Harry until they faced each other again.
"That's too bad," Sirius responded. "What you did to him changed you. It changed your mother. It changed Hermione. You have to own your actions. As much as you might want to blame Hermione for who you are now, you contributed to it as much, if not more than everyone else. Be angry," Sirius said. "You know you have that right. Just be sure you're angry at the right person."
When Harry looked up at him, Sirius saw the confusion and pain mingled in his godson's eyes. He wanted to believe Harry was sorry for what had happened, but had seen little indication that the boy felt anything other than hatred for Snape. If this didn't get through to him, Sirius didn't know what would. It was too late for remorse to allow Harry to put the pieces of his soul back together, but it wasn't too late for him to recognize what he'd done, forgive himself and heal. If that brief look of guilt was any indication, it was possible.
"Mum, you know you don't have to keep watching me," Harry said. "I'm not going to just disappear." He closed the trunk in front of his bed and turned. He offered his mother a small smile and beckoned her inside.
"I know that," Lily said. She entered her son's bedroom and closed the door behind herself. "It's just been so long since your sister and I have had you here and...you've never really been here with us, have you?" Her thoughts lay unspoken behind the fading voice. The last time her son had shared her home, they'd been fighting over his stepfather; he'd been begging her to see the truth about Snape.
Harry didn't have to look up to know Lily was frowning again and pinching the bridge of her nose. She had been trying so hard to act like everything was normal, she'd been giving herself headaches every time there was a reminder their life was, in fact, as far from normal as it had ever been. It would probably remain that way for a long time. Harry hated that she was stressing herself trying to be the mother she thought he wanted, but he hated even more that she still had to try. He wouldn't dare tell her though. He didn't need tension in their relationship as well.
"So, you're going back to Hogwarts tomorrow. Have you given any thought to what you're going to do?" Lily asked.
"I'm going to take my finals privately, like my professors arranged and then go back to school at the beginning of term," Harry said. "I thought you agreed with that plan. My professors don't have a problem with it."
"That's not what I meant," Lily said. "You haven't spoken to Hermione in over a month and she's going to be there." Harry sighed and Lily stepped closer. "Are you going to talk to her? You may not bring it up, but I can tell you miss her." When Harry frowned, she added, "Haven't your friends told you how upset she is?"
"Ron said everyone is upset. We all miss Neville," he stated.
"And you miss her," Lily repeated.
Harry looked down, avoiding his mother's eyes. It wasn't missing Hermione that was the issue, he didn't know what to say to her. He certainly wasn't prepared to behave like his mother, pretending like nothing had happened and moving on with their lives. But he didn't know what choices he had with her, if any. He couldn't even think how to ask. "I don't know what you expect me to do, exactly. Hermione made her choice. She gave me back the necklace. She left."
"Did you make her feel like she had a choice?" Lily asked.
Harry looked up. "Why should I have done that? Hermione did exactly what she wanted to do and she never bothered talking to me about it before, because she knew how I'd feel." His voice rose. "She knew I would've put a stop to it and she didn't care. Isn't that what you were saying about her before?" Harry asked. "That she was clinging to me for her own selfish reasons? All she did was prove that."
"I really have been bad, haven't I?" Lily frowned and sat on her son's bed. She motioned for Harry to join her. "I don't want you to get the impression that I approve of how far your relationship with her went, but I…understand why you both felt it was right at the time. Hermione may be a number of things, but she was not selfish where you were concerned. Or maybe she was. In the same way that we all were. We didn't want to lose you." She placed a hand over his on the coverlet.
"At the end of the day, it was my decision to bring you back, no matter what steps had been taken beforehand to make it a possibility. I could not let you go and no manner of persuasion from Hermione or anyone else would've convinced me to make that decision if I didn't wish to do so myself."
"But this was all her idea," Harry said.
"And you can't understand how desperate she was once she was sure you'd have to fight Voldemort?" Lily asked. "You asked a lot of us to accept you as you are after everything that happened. I don't think it's too much to ask to forgive any mistake Hermione might have made in trying to keep you around. She certainly didn't do it because she doesn't care. She went into that battle willing to die helping you and Neville fight. She even went up against me more than once," Lily said with a small smile. "In spite of what you may think, I don't believe there is nothing wrong with the body you have now or the intent behind wanting to save you."
"Why aren't you upset that they did this behind my back? And yours?"
"I'm more upset that it was even possible," Lily said softly.
Harry looked away from his mother. He didn't want to think about Snape now, or ever again if he could help it. Harry knew the concept of murder in relation to what happened was a technicality, at best. Snape had deserved everything that had happened to him and he was paying the price. With this body. And the look in everyone's eyes every time they brought it up.
Would they always look at him like he was the villain? Would he always feel this small, lingering doubt that he might be in someone's eyes? That possibility might always feel like a sharp pain in the middle of his chest, stinging Harry at odd moments when he least expected it. It wasn't enough to know what he'd done to himself, but to hear his sister talk about how much she missed her father and loved her big brother in nearly the same breath—something had to ease the sharp ache he felt when he lied to Raven about being sorry Snape was gone. Something short of feeling sorry Snape was dead.
"I know why you did it, and as a result you're still here with me today," Lily said. "In this instance, the end result is more important than the action that enabled it. I still believe what you did to him was wrong, but I love you too much to lie and say I'm not glad I still have you—regardless of the cost."
"If he had merely gone to Azkaban, would you have been able to forgive him?" Harry asked.
Lily said nothing for several moments. Squeezing Harry's hand, she finally said, "I might have given him the same treatment you did. And possibly regretted the consequences after." She squeezed his hand again. "That might just be the pain talking. I know, in the back of mind, all human life is precious regardless of what we choose to do with it. But that doesn't change my personal feelings about Severus. I shouldn't say this to you, but after seeing what James went through, I don't think there is anything he deserved more. Still, personal feelings don't give any of us the right to exact our own punishments."
Lily gave her son a brief smile. "But that doesn't answer what you're going to do about Hermione. She's hurt. After all it took for you to bring us together, I would hate to think you're going to just end it over something we were all involved with. You're not going to stop speaking to me, are you?"
"Of course not," Harry responded. "You're a permanent part of my life and she's—"
"She's just the girl who would risk anything for you and proved it. More than once," Lily said. Standing from the bed, Lily gave her son a small smile. "She's staying at Hogwarts for Christmas. I don't mind if you decide to stay a couple of extra days after you finish your exams." She held up a hand as Harry began to interrupt. "You may want to think about why you came to care for her so deeply before you throw it away for good." Without waiting for a response from her son, Lily turned and left the room.
Walking into the common room was a surreal experience. For one, it was the middle of the day and the room was empty. He'd spent Christmases as Hogwarts before and knew most students went home to be with their families, but Harry had never thought he'd see the day when nearly every student decided to be at home for vacation. Ron had told him most students were so shaken up by what had happened to Neville, they couldn't wait to pack their bags and be with the people they loved, himself included.
The second thing that struck Harry as out-of-place was the picture of Neville hung in the corner of the room. It was different from the official school portraits—it didn't talk, didn't seem to be aware of the inhabitants of the room. It was just a blown up photograph of a former student, one who'd died to save all of them, and so became a part of wizarding history. Still, looking at it made Harry feel as if the full truth of what had happened was finally real. He'd missed the battle, missed the funerals and never got a chance to see Neville fight and fulfill his destiny. If this were another time and place, it would be his likeness hung in the common room, waiting for an official portrait to be commissioned and hung in the Entrance Hall. He had no right, but he was grateful it wasn't. Regardless of what it was costing him.
The last part of his return to school that jolted Harry was seeing Hermione for the first time. She'd been sitting in front of the fireplace when he came in, huddled over a book. She had turned when he pushed his way past the portrait, looked him over briefly, and then returned to her book, her expression unchanged. It was if they were strangers. He hadn't known what to expect, but Hermione was hardly the type to merely ignore someone. The angry silent treatment was more in line with what he'd come to expect when she upset.
Of course, Harry couldn't think of a time when anyone had hurt Hermione the way he had—blaming her for trying to fix his mistakes and then cutting her off without a word when she'd run away. They'd both handled things badly, Harry especially. He didn't know if being aware of that much was enough to change the facts. But seeing her now, he knew he had to try. He couldn't live with the look she'd given him any more than he could forget what they'd had together. And could have again if they tried.
Harry walked across the room and stood in front of Hermione's chair. He waited for several seconds, hoping she'd acknowledge him. "Hi." Hermione looked up. Her grip on the book across her lap tightened. "Mum told me I might see you here." She nodded. "I've missed you," Harry admitted.
"Your mum told me. I wasn't sure if I should believe her."
Harry stared at Hermione in silence for a moment. "You've talked to my mother?"
"I talk to her all the time," she responded.
"She never said anything."
Hermione shrugged. "Maybe she didn't think you'd care. Especially after the way things ended."
"Was that the end of things?"
She laughed shortly. She closed the book she was reading and stood. "We haven't spoken in over a month. Did you think I was just biding my time until I could beg you to be with me again?" At his frown, she matched his expression and began to walk around the chair. She headed towards the stairs. "Don't bother to answer, Harry. I'm sure it crossed your mind at least once. It wouldn't be the first time you thought of me as pathetic where you're concerned, but it will certainly be the last."
"What?" Harry lunged forward and grabbed for her wrist to keep her from moving. "Why would you say that? I've never thought of you that way and you know it."
"Do I? You practically accused me of it the day you woke up and the way you looked at me—" Hermione broke off and shook Harry's hand from her wrist. "You didn't care what we'd risked to keep you alive, you didn't want to do anything but yell at me for wanting you in my life that badly. You might not have said it in words, but you made it pretty clear what you think of me."
"I know what I said, Hermione, and—"
"Don't, Harry," She said, her palm raised towards him. "I don't think you need to add anything else." She cradled her book over her chest and looked at the floor. "There is one thing. You were right. I couldn't admit it then, but I've had time—more than enough—to think about it. I had no right to do what I did and I should've come to you as soon as I guessed what had happened. I should've given you a choice." Hermione looked up briefly before her gaze shot back down. "I'm sorry."
"I'm not, not entirely. I'm glad you saved me." Harry said.
Hermione nodded. "I am too. If that's all you came to say, I really should be going." She began walking away again. Harry hesitated, then decided not to stop her. With one last glance at him, Hermione ran up the stairs and to her dorm. After a few seconds, Harry moved back in front of the fireplace. He'd known it was going to be difficult getting through to Hermione, but he hadn't thought she'd run away from him again. She couldn't stand to look at him. Was it because of what he'd done to Snape or the things he'd said to her? Whatever was still bothering Hermione, Harry hoped it wasn't enough that they couldn't fix what was broken between them. After everything else, he didn't want his mistakes to cause him to lose her too.
It was two days before Christmas before he saw her again. She'd been avoiding him, taking meals in her dorm and staying out of the common room during the day. Anxious, Harry had waited for her, planting himself on a chair in the corner until Hermione passed through the room. When she did, he crossed the room swiftly, grasping her arm just above the elbow before she could make her escape.
"What—?" Hermione turned. "What do you want with me?"
Harry frowned. "I just want to talk. Can we do that?"
"We've done that, Harry. I don't think there's anything else to talk about."
Her words sounded sure enough, but Harry felt the way she avoided his eyes when she pulled out of his grasp spoke volumes more. "There's still more I have to say to you," he said. "Please."
Sighing, Hermione nodded. She walked over to a window and leaned against it, staring out at the cliffs in the distance.
"I'm not angry at you anymore. To be honest, I'm not sure I ever had a right to be."
Hermione turned quickly. "Harry, you had every right. I never should have—"
"But you did," Harry said. "You did it for me and if I hadn't…done what I'd done, you would never have been put in that position. Can we just agree that we were both wrong?" Hermione pressed her lips together and nodded.
"I still don't understand how you were able to do it," Harry said. "The only instructions you had involved using body parts and blood."
"We used your body," Hermione said. "The one with the scar. Really, we only needed a small piece of flesh and, of course, your blood did carry your mother's protection. Even without your scar, you still have some small reflection of that." She motioned towards him. "We buried the rest of the remains next to your father, in Godric's Hollow. Your mother didn't tell you any of this?"
"I haven't wanted to talk about it."
"I see." Hermione moved her eyes away from him again.
"Have you seen Draco?"
Hermione hesitated before nodding. "I visited. Once."
"So, it's true then."
"Yes. The doctors don't think he'll ever recover his sanity." Hermione lifted one shoulder in a shrug. "I'm not sure it's a fair end for him, considering that he didn't really have a choice about helping his aunt. Losing one's mind—or worse, being aware of what's going on some level—it's worse than death."
"He wasn't exactly innocent either."
"I think the only one of us who could say that is Neville," Hermione whispered.
Harry frowned. "I know why you think that about me, but the rest of you—"
"All ended up severely hurting or killing at least one person in that battle," she finished. Hermione shrugged. "It was all self-defense, but it still feels… I think it's fair to say, none of us is the same after that day." She crossed her arms over her chest. "One blessing you have is no memories of that awful fight."
"I have a lot of other memories," Harry began. "Of us. The past few months have been—"
"Insane," Hermione supplied. She rolled her eyes.
"I was going to say great," Harry corrected her. "In spite of all the craziness and drama, I found something with you that I never thought I would find before." When Hermione didn't respond, Harry looked down at his hands. "I've done a lot of thinking about us recently and I know the way I treated you was unfair. I'm sorry. I know I said it before, but I never should've blamed you after what I did. I feel horrible about the way I acted. Can you—?"
"I forgive you," Hermione said quickly. Harry looked up. She had turned away again and wrapped her arms around herself. Harry moved to stand behind her and put his arms around her waist. Hermione shifted, attempting to shake him off before relenting and relaxing in his embrace. She turned her head and their eyes met. "Something else to say?"
"You already said that."
"About Snape. Really." Harry squeezed Hermione, pushed her hair to one side and rested his chin on her shoulder. "I hated him. But I never should've acted on it. I took…I took a life and it wasn't right. I'm paying the price for that every day," he whispered. Hermione sighed and Harry squeezed her again. "I love you. For standing by me, even after you knew what I did. For being willing to accept me after everything that happened at the beginning of term. For being my best friend and supporting me, no matter what. For keeping me on my toes, whether I liked it or not."
He caught Hermione's smile out of the corner of his eye and kissed the back of her neck. "I know I can be a whiney pain in the bum sometimes—"
"Sometimes?" She giggled.
"And you can be a stubborn nag, but we have something good," Harry said. "I don't want to lose that. With all of the craziness out of our lives, we can finally enjoy being together, with nothing standing in our way. If you still want me."
Hermione turned and slipped her arms around his neck. "Of course I do," she whispered. "I love you more now than I ever have. I will never stop."
Grinning, Harry reached into his pocket and pulled out the necklace he'd been carrying from the moment he realized what he could lose. Without a word, he placed it around her neck, smiling as the crystal glowed briefly after it came to rest against her skin. Hermione returned his smile before pulling Harry into a kiss, knowing that for them, words would never be enough.