Disclaimer: I do not own Harry Potter or any of the characters.
She had no idea how she got there, one minute she was standing with her friend... with Ron... and the next they were with all of the survivors of the first fight, seeming to be preparing themselves for the next. She looked up and noticed that she was standing next to all the Weasleys, there tear stained face sending a wave of pain to her own chest. Her eyes went to Mrs. Weasley, who was shaking with silent tears, and was being held by a Mr. Weasley that was staring blankly out to the grounds before them.
She turned her eyes, it was too hard to look at them, as she too looked at the grounds. They came slowly, walking as if they were no hurry. There was so many of them left, she knew that their side was outnumbered by a considerable amount. She knew that they had kids on their side that hadn't experience enough of life... and she knew the opponents they face would kill ever last one of them. The knowledgeable made her mind burn, but she didn't cower from it, she was filled with angry. She embraced that angry... pushed all the other feelings she had to the side and let that take over completely.
"NO!" the chilling cry came form McGonagall, her eyes were one the biggest of the group of people and Hermione noticed with a shook that it was Hagrid.
Then she saw him, the boy that she had always been her best friend, even when he didn't realized how much he meant to her. The boy that she had come to think of as a brother... or had she always thought of him that way... it mattered little now, for either way that boy was dead.
The imagine brought tears to her eyes, and the grief threatened to tear down the wall of angry she had just built. "HARRY!" she cried out.
More painful than hearing her own voice was hearing Ron's "NO!" and Ginny's "HARRY". She was knocked down by her grief again, but she felt Ron catch her before she could fall, holding her to him.
Voldemort was talking, she knew that but she couldn't make sense of it. No she was trying to find her angry again... that was what she needed now. If there was ever going to be a tomorrow for her, she would have to deal with her grief then, but she needed to numb the pain now so she could fight.
"HE BEAT YOUR!" Hermione could feel more than hear Ron said. She looked up at Ron, who was glaring at the field and she could see that he had no problem finding the necessary angry. She tried to focus this time as Voldemort talked.
"He was killed while trying to sneak out of the castle grounds," Voldemort said in a smug voice and she felt her blood boil again. "Killed while trying to save himself-"
How could Voldemort possible say that? It was down right ridiculous. Harry would never had run from this... no Harry would run towards the danger... run there in hopes of saving everyone else. The lie made her so angry she tried to move, but she felt arms holding her back. She didn't know who it was, but it definitely wasn't Ron's... he seemed to be trying to move too.
No one seemed to have held Neville back though, for he was now running towards Voldemort, enraged by all that was said. Hermione felt a thrill of panic fill her as she watched her friend... she also felt a fair amount of jealously, wishing to be the one out there. However, after Neville was curse and rendered unable to move all she wanted to do was save her friend.
"Let me go," she struggled again the arms that were holding her.
"You can't help him," Fleur said as she could hear Ron and Ginny struggling with their siblings in their own attempts to fight their way free.
"We can't leave her there alone," Hermione hissed, but stopped struggling, only so she could hear what Voldemort had to say.
"... you would make a good Death Eater."
"I'll join you when Hell freezes over!" Neville yelled. "Dumbledore's Army!"
Hermione wasn't the only one that yelled, it seemed that everyone that had been in school for the last few years we're all raising to the battle cry. She broke free from Fleur as Fred and George let Ginny go, they seemed to want to join the charge now, only Ron was still being held by Bill. None of them moved though as the watched something fly out of the castle to Voldemort.
"There will be no more houses in the future," Voldemort was saying, "the crest and shield of my noble ancister Slyazar Slytherin will suffice for everyone! Isn't that right Neville."
At those words white flames seemed to shoot out of the thinging that Voldemort had just placed on Neville's head (the sorting hat) and she watched helplessly as her friend screamed in pain. One second was all she needed however, for the next she was running... running with every single one of the resistance fighters along side her.
She kept her eyes on Neville as she ran and she couldn't believe what she saw. He somehow seemed to have broke the curse that was on him, the flames falling off him along with the hat. Neville seemed to pick something up, the silver glint of the sword shinny bright, seeming to gather everyone's eyes as he chopped off the head of the snake.
Hermione felt a sickening laugh came from her own lips at this as she realized that Voldemort was mortal again... that he could dead just like any other man.
It was then that her advances where hampered, her attention was diverted for her main target by the sight of the dirty blonde hair flying around. Luna was fighting some masked Death Eater, but that is not what made Hermione hesitate. No it was the chill that was filling her arm, coming form the wand in her hand. It seemed to have sense the presence of it's old master because Hermione could see her pointing a wand at Luna.
Hermione sent the worst curse she knew of... the one that she had been hit with in her fifth year, but Bellatrix dodged it.
"Oh... if it isn't the filthy Mudblood!" Bellatrix cackled, her eyes seemed to light up, "and you have my wand for me."
Hermione had to fight back the urge to take the wand that she had now and snapped. It would have been a pleasure to seen Bellatrix face at the destruction of her wand, but then Hermione would be defensively and she wasn't about to let herself die.
Bellatrix flicked her wand casually and the fight started so fast Hermione could barely keep up. Shield... dodge... block... shield... block... dodge... Damnit, she wasn't able to mount an attack at all. All she could do was defend herself and she could feel that she was losing ground... she was being forced back into the castle.
"You should have known you couldn't escape me," Bellatrix laughed.
Hermione could seen it in the other woman's mad eyes that she was about to send the Cruciatus Cures again. Fear threatened to over come her, but she quelled it by her angry. She refused to be scared of this woman any longer.
"Crucio!" Bellatrix yelled as Hermione shouted, "Stupefy!"
The spells meet in the middle, the clash of when sent a burst of power the force of which nearly knocked Hermione down, as the ricocheted off each other. Hermione curse sailed harmlessly off into space and Bellatrix seemed to have hit a Death Eater.
"Not bad," Bellatrix said, her eyes had grown more serious, but before she could raise her arms, someone else fired a spell at her.
Hermione looked around to see that it was Ginny, and her heart started to beat painful in her chest. It was hard enough to fight Bellatrix before, but now that she was going to be worried about Ginny she knew it would be even harder. The next curse that was fired however, didn't come from any of them, it came for Luna, who seemed to have defeated her Death Eater and was now joining the fight.
"A bunch of girls..." Bellatrix shook her head impatiently. "This is what I have to deal with... find them, but I shall make this fast."
She sent the Killing Curse at Ginny immediately and it looked as though everything was going in slow motion. The look of shook in Ginny's eyes... the automatic reflex that Ginny had learned over the years of playing Quidditch and being picked on by all her brothers. It was just enough... the curse sailed over Ginny head... missing her by inches.
"NOT MY DAUGHTER YOU BITCH!" Mrs. Weasley screamed, her eyes were beyond furious, as she charged into the fight. The duel started and it was was more intense than Hermione had ever seen in her life. She never realized until that moment just how powerful Mrs. Weasley was as she sent curse after curse at Bellatrix.
Bellatrix tried to taunt Mrs. Weasley, tried to get to the other, so that she could take advantage of Mrs. Weasley distraction. What she wasn't counting on was the Mrs. Weasley was already well past the breaking point, there was nothing that would distract her in this moment. And with a fury and hatred that has never been seen in Mrs. Weasley's eyes before, she sent the final curse at Bellatrix. The look of surprise was the last expression Bellatrix would ever have.
"ARGH!" Voldemort screamed in raged and Hermione realized then that all the other Death Eater seemed to have been defeated. This was it, surely even Voldemort wouldn't be able to make it out of here alive in a room full of people who wanted him dead. He however, didn't seemed to be worried about that as he pointed his wand towards Mrs. Weasley.
The shout had her gasping for air, because she was sure she would never hear that voice again... A painful hope filled her, froze her to the spot she was in.
Then he was there... pulling off his Invisibility Cloak and glaring at Voldemort like nothing had happened. Like he hadn't been dead just a second ago. Harry Potter was alive!
The cheers for him filled the room, but she couldn't make sense of them. She was keeping her eyes on Harry... he was walking towards Voldemort... and she knew only one thing, she could not lose him again... she could not take it to have him be taken for this world again, and this time forever.
Harry was acting differently though. He wasn't scared or worried or panic like he seemed to be the last she had seen him. He also didn't seemed to be bothered at all by the obvious angry coming off of Voldemort. He must have learned control over his emotions at last.
She listened as Harry talked to Voldemort in his new confident manner, terrified and yet thrilled by this. His confidence seemed to be filling her too... making her believe that he could actually win. She listened as Harry explained about Snape being on Dumbledore's side and she realized immediately that he had learned more about that than he had told them in the Room of Requirement in what now seemed like another lifetime ago.
As Harry talked about the Elder wand, the wand that was supposed to be the most deadly wand in the world, she felt her heart race. Draco had disarmed Dumbledore... had in a sense defeated the Elder wand... and Harry had disarmed Draco... taking the wand that was now the master of the Elder wand. She had never before wanted to believe in wand lore and of a magic that couldn't be explained in book than she did in that moment.
Harry and Voldemort yelled at the same time, their spells meeting, the green light bouncing backwards without even the slightest fight (the wand was not willing to curse it's true master). Harry caught the Elder wand in his hand as the green light hit Voldemort in the chest.
The monster that had terrorized their lives for the last seven years was gone in a flash, he didn't even have time to make a face of astonishment... he was just gone.
It only took one second for her to realize that it was all over... they were free. The next second she was running to Harry, shouting as she wrapped her arms around him at the same time that Ron did, the three of them hugging in the middle of the room full of cheering witches and wizards. Ginny was there the next second, Harry moving so that he could hold her more closely to him, but neither Ron or Hermione let go of him.
They were engulfed by what seemed to be the rest of the people in the room, everyone cheering... everyone feeling the joy of the war finally and truly being over.
Time seemed to have gone by in a blur for the next few hours. It seemed like one second she was hugging Harry and the next she was sitting with a group of people, some of which were her friends, others that she hardly new. Ron was by her side the whole time, holding her hand like he was never going to let her go.
Whenever she would look at him she could see that he was feeling what she was. Relieved it was over. Ecstatic that they had both survive... and that Harry had survive (she hated to admit this but there was a large part of her that believe that it was impossible that they would have all made it, especially Harry). Grief for those that were lost, most notably Percy, but a lot of their friends too had lost their lives in this fight. Then she thought of the people that were injure seriously, like Tonks that was still unconscious, Remus trying to do all he could to help her. Understanding that they no longer had to fight a war. Lust, to celebrate in private their new freedom. Before they could be alone though, they needed to talk to Harry. They needed to know what had happened in the hour that he was away from them... they needed to know why he appeared to be dead.
"It's me," Harry's voice said suddenly, but they weren't surprised by this (even though they couldn't see him) because they had been expecting him to come to them. "Will you come with me."
They got up, and walked out of the Great Hall, where Harry took off the Cloak to relieve himself. They walked a little while in silence, until suddenly Harry started talking.
"After I left the Great Hall..." Ron glared at him there and Harry sighed, "I'm sorry... I just couldn't stand see how much people had lost their lives... because of me..."
"Harry!" two exasperated voices said at the same time.
"After I left the Great Hall," Harry said again, "I remembered the memory that Snape gave me. I thought it might be important so I went to Dumbledore's office so I could watch it. It turns out that Snape knew my mum even before they went to Hogwarts and they were friends."
There was something about Harry's expression that said there was more to this, and it wasn't hard to figure out what it was, but neither of them pushed him for details about this.
"Basically what the memory was telling me was that..." Harry said, swallowing hard and looking disgusted and like he really didn't want to say it, but it was important that they understood. "That I was... I was a Horcrux."
Ron and Hermione gasped at that. "WHAT?"
"How is that possible?" Ron said.
Hermione however was thinking about everything odd that happened to Harry... everything that seemed to be link to his scar and realized how much sense this made. She shivered realizing that Harry had been living with a piece of Voldemort soul in his body for so long. She looked at Harry and realized he was apprehensive, like he thought that they would be disgusted by this... by him.
"Harry," Hermione said hugging him, tears starting to fall down her cheeks. "I can't imagine how hard that was for you to hear."
"What does that mean anyway... that you where a Horcrux?" Ron asked. "Voldemort is dead right..."
"Yeah, he's dead," Harry said firmly. "I'm not a Horcrux anymore."
This caused Ron and Hermione both to shiver, wondering... knowing how he stopped being a Horcrux.
"I had to die," Harry said. "Or at least I had to let Voldemort hit me with the killing curse again."
Hermione really started crying at that. "You survived the killing curse again!"
"Yes," Harry said sadly. "But you're getting ahead of the story."
"Sorry," Hermione said and Ron wrapped an arm around her.
"After I got out of the memory I knew I had to go to the forest," Harry went on, his voice was hallow as he talked about this. "Dumbledore had said that I had to let Voldemort kill me and not defend myself or do anything to stop him..."
Ron growled at that, "I can't believe that he..."
"He knew that it wouldn't really work," Harry interrupted Ron. "He knew that I wouldn't be killed by the curse, but if I thought I was going to die, I would be able to protect those that I care about from Voldemort."
"I don't get it?" Hermione said. "How did you survive?"
"My mum protection," Harry said, "Dumbledore said that because Voldemort used my blood to make him come back to his body that it actually strengthen the connection that we had with each other... made it so I couldn't be killed by him... or something like that..."
"Oh..." was all Ron could say to that.
"What, I thought you said that Dumbledore wanted you to believe that you would die... how could he have told you about this connection you had with your mum?" Hermione asked.
"Oh... well... er..." Harry said rubbing the back of his neck. "After I was hit with the Killing Curse I sort of had a vision thingy of Dumbledore and he explained everything to me."
"What?" Hermione said, this just got more and more confusing.
"It's not really important," Harry said. "The important thing is that I had to go to the forest... I know that you probably hated me for that..."
"You got that right," Ron grumbled.
"And I'm sorry... but it was the only way," Harry sighed. "I was a Horcrux... if I didn't die... then neither could Voldemort."
"Oh Harry," Hermione whimpered, thinking about Harry walking to the forest alone, knowing that he was going to die. What strength it must have taken him to something like that.
"You were alone..." Ron sighed.
"I wasn't alone," Harry shook his head. "I was right about the stone... it was in the Snitch... and it opened at the close... the end of my life.
"Because of the stone my parents walked with me towards the forest."
Harry stopped there, it was hard to keep talking about this, and he felt the other two understood what had happened. He then explained more about his dream with Dumbledore in it, after which he told them about Narcissa saying he was dead, allowing him to fool Voldemort.
"... I'm sorry I had to pretend to be dead, but it was the only way to defeat Voldemort," Harry finished.
"We understand why you did it Harry," Hermione said. "But that doesn't make it any easier for use to see it."
"I'm sorry," Harry repeated, and then he looked up and they were at Dumbledore office, Harry made his way quickly up the stairs and the other two followed him. It was eery hearing all the portraits in there applauding Harry, but that didn't last long. For Harry was now talking to Dumbledore's portrait, making sure that he cover up all the lose ends. The most notably the Elder Wand.
As Harry held up the Elder Wand, the most powerful wand that ever existed saying that he didn't want she felt a strange desire to claim it as her own. She thought of all the good she could do with a wand like that. Also, seeing as she had lost her own wand, and the one that she was using now needed to be destroyed as soon as she could find a replacement wand, it would due nicely to have this wand.
Harry, however, felt it would be best to put it back into Dumbledore's tomb. She had to admit it was the best thing to do, for it really was seductive thinking about what that wand could do. Especially after she watched Harry repair his old wand with it (a feat she had thought was impossible). She could feel that Ron longed for the wand too, but she squeezed his hand and when he looked at her he smiled. Having that wand would only have been asked for trouble and really... they had plenty of that for many lifetimes.
A/N: So this is the end of the books and nearly the end of my story. I think I will do a few more chapters to settle things a little more, but before that I'm going to take a break for about a month.