I still don't own it.

Ladies and Gentlemen, the final chapter, right here, for your viewing and reviewing pleasure!


Defeating the Dark Lord


11) In Which Our Story Is Concluded


Harry didn't know how long he lay there, overwhelmed by the sheer horror of the situation. It was absurd beyond belief that Severus hung chained to a wall, screaming in agony, mere feet away - yet there he was, and Harry could do nothing to help him. The futility of it froze him to the core - he had the ability, the knowledge, the willingness to help - but by Severus' command and his own sworn obedience, he could do nothing - nothing - until it was all over.

Stop it - stop it - stop it - the mantra pounded in his brain, over and over, around and around - but he could do nothing.

And so he lay there on the cold stone floor, shaking with horror, weeping in helpless rage, as the screams went on and on and on.

It felt like an eternity later that Harry dimly realised the screams had stopped. There was a quiet word, and the sound of manacles falling free: a hesitant footstep.

"Harry?"

The tone was soft, hoarse, barely more than a strained whisper.

Slowly, Harry uncurled his body, climbed to his feet, and then - finally - turned around.

Severus' face was so pale it was almost white, tear tracks plainly visible down his cheeks, blood trickling from his mouth; he held himself as though pained - of course he's pained, you idiot - and the ravaged forearm was a mass of blood and torn flesh; there seemed to be more lines around his eyes and mouth, lines of stress and strain.

Harry stared at him, drinking in the sight of Severus, scanning every inch for injuries - and then his breathing hitched, and he flung himself forward to embrace him, reveling in the feel of the warm and so very alive body, aware of an arm coming around to clutch at his back.

They stayed that way for some time - two men clinging to each other in the aftermath of a brutal battle - and then Harry eased back and took charge.

"You should go lie down on the couch."

Severus' lip twitched at the order, but he nodded wearily and limped through into the next room.

Harry grabbed the emergency potions kit and followed, to see Severus lower himself to lie full length on the couch, wounded arm dangling off the edge, eyes closed in clear exhaustion.

Harry damped a cloth and wiped the blood from his mouth and chin, before selecting the first potion.

"Here."

Severus reached across with his undamaged arm and took the uncorked potion without opening his eyes, passing it under his nose to identify it - Pain Reliever - and downed it. He handed the empty vial back and took the next without comment.

Muscle Relaxant.

Blood Replenisher.

A moderate strength Internal Healing Potion.

And then Harry raised the injured arm and cleaned it off, gently - first with water, then wound-cleaning solution, and then Murtlap Essence - and lastly applied a Nerve Growth Salve and Muscle Regenerative, and bandaged it tightly.

Severus lifted his hand and ran his fingers through Harry's hair, before letting it flop back heavily. "Thank you."

Harry held out a Energy Potion - it was bright blue and fizzing. "Last one, and then we can go back."

"Back?" Severus cracked his eyes open and frowned slightly, "We're already at Hogwarts. In my quarters, if I'm not mistaken."

"We're at Hogwarts, yes. We're also still in your mind. And mine. We're... in your mind, in my mind."

Severus' brow cleared. "Oh, yes. That's right, so we are."

He held out a hand for the Energy Potion and chugged it down. The tension lines around his eyes and mouth eased; he sat up, eyes bright and clear, looking much more alive.

"Much better. Come here."

Severus put a hand on Harry's shoulder, and a moment later they were lifting up and out, and landed in the Defence Classroom.

They gazed down at the body of the Dark Lord.

"Goodbye and good riddance." Severus said eventually.

Harry just nodded agreement and led the way back to the Great Hall.

"I thought we could have a drink before we head back."

Severus raised an eyebrow.

"Coffee." Harry clarified, and bypassed the House tables in favour of the Head Table. He motioned Severus to the Headmaster's seat, and took the chair to his left.

Severus drank his coffee black; Harry, with copious amounts of cream.

"How does it feel?" Harry waved a hand, encompassing the Headmaster's seat and the vast Hall before them in his gesture.

Severus nodded thoughtfully. "I could get used to it."

Harry grinned and finished his drink.

They stood and moved out into the middle of the Hall. Harry stood in front of Severus, matching his breathing automatically to the warm chest behind him. Severus' hands fell gently onto his shoulders and squeezed.

And then they were rising up and out, back to their bodies in the crowded Great Hall at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry.

And the celebrations began.