As Harry stood, he scanned the room around him. It was quiet; the Dark Lord had fallen. Peace began to settle over the Wizarding world.
Wands dropped, hugs were exchanged. Sobs filled the room, still audible over the occasional cheers. Though the battle was over and the victory had been claimed, there was no life that had been left unchanged by the proceedings of that day. Loved ones were lost.
Several Death Eaters removed their masks and tossed them aside. Freed from their dark servitude, they had lost their will to fight. Draco, stumbling over several bodies, made his way to his mother and embraced her. His father swallowed thickly and gave a short nod. Tears of joy streaming from her eyes, Narcissa beamed at Harry.
Harry took several steps forward and turned. His heart ached as he watched Mrs. Weasley grieve over the loss of her son. She held Fred's lifeless body close to hers; her body shook. George stood, arms at his side, merely staring. He was alone now.
So many people had died in the battle, and far so many more in the war. He was surrounded by the corpses of those both dear to him, and those far from his liking. Rubble littered the ground. The one remaining wall of the school he called home stood in solitude, dust from its surface danced in the gentle breeze.
Harry closed his eyes and listened to the sounds around him. Together they played the melody of bittersweet peace.
A gentle touch pulled Harry from his musings. Hermione held his hand in hers, and wrapped her arm tightly around him.
"You're alive," she whispered. The pain in her voice was evident – as was the relief.
"As are you," Harry choked, running his fingers through her soft hair. He looked into her eyes, "I don't know what I'd do if I lost you." She smiled weakly. She was his best friend; she had been with him the whole journey. She had cared for him, followed him, helped him when nothing seemed to be right. She was always by his side. "I love you," he said softly. Hermione touched her nose to his.
"I love you, too," she whispered, and kissed him. It was a simple kiss; there was no lust. It was sweet and it was tender, but it conveyed a message Harry understood very clearly. There was love mixed with a hint of desire. There was desire drizzled with love. Every second of that moment caused both hearts to race faster. Hermione's chocolaty brown eyes glittered in the moonlight. As their lips unwillingly separated, tears began to race down Hermione's cheek.
"It was my little secret," she said softly. As her small fingers caressed his cheek, he raised his hand to hold hers. She closed her eyes and turned her head. "I'm sorry," she breathed. He felt her slump against him. The battle had taken a lot out of her. "I shouldn't have..."
Harry kissed her cheek.
"I had to tell you," she sighed; her breathing quickened with his, "how I love you." She emphasised her words. Harry looked over her shoulder to Ginny who, in the distance, was tending to Ron. The red that brightened her cheeks triumphed the brilliance of the flames all about them. "I shouldn't have," she sighed and avoided his gaze.
"Your secret's safe." Harry smiled, gently turning her head to face him. He kissed her softly, as she had him.
"And Ginny?" Hermione squeaked as he squeezed her lovingly.
"We'll see," he replied, holding her closer. "Our lives have only just begun."
The chaos brought upon all by the darkness had passed. There was no more Tom Riddle; there was no more Lord Voldemort. Neither could live while the other survived. Now there was just one: the chosen one. Now was his time to find his own chosen.
Life could go on.
Author's Note: This is the promised re-write of Hermione's Secret, with a new ending. I hope you enjoyed. Please review.