Chapter 8: The End

Everything slowed-the screams, the blasting wand-fired lights, the exploding rubble-everything. I heard a high-pitched drone sounding in my ears, unaware that it was my own scream.

I surprised myself how fast I managed to stumble forward, through the shaking, the shock.

Toward the body.

"Lucy!" I screamed, falling down at her crumpled form. Someone was flying at us in a blur, and I was primed to blast them away before I realized it was Sarah.

"Luce, no, Luce, stay with us!" I yelled, tears tracing through the dirty grime and blood on my cheeks. My body was shaking-half from the shock, and half from the extra adrenaline pumping through my veins.

"Lucille, you'd better wake up, now!" Sarah snapped, grabbing her shoulders. It wasn't even the Avada Kedavra curse that would end her-no, not even the grace of a quick and painless death for quiet Lucy.

No, it was a knife in the side.

She was clutching it, coughing in spasms...eyes squeezed close, hanging onto life by a thread.

"You guys were...are...the best friends...I could have asked for," she choked out. "Tell Seamus...I love..."

"Sh, don't talk," I croaked when I saw what the effort cost her. "We'll tell him."

"No, I have to say...you two...and...Julie-are my best friends," she gasped.

"Who, Lucy? Who killed you?" Sarah gasped.

"Both of you-don't be sad, don't forget me..." she trailed off, this time forever. Her eyes grew dull, and her head lied still in Sarah's lap. For a minute, we both just sat in cold shock, tears dripping onto the ground, mingling with Lucy's blood that would forever stain the floor. Don't forget me, her last words. And we wouldn't, not ever.

A spell that just brushed over our heads, striking the wall behind us, jolted us to action.

"Come one, we've got to go," I said in a thick, panicked voice. "Nothing will happen to her body," I said when I saw her hesitate. "We'll come back for it. Let's go."

We plunged into the battle once more, with more vigor than ever.

"My Lord," Lucius Malfoy's voice came. No longer smooth and slippery, but parched and rasping, the voice of one whose throat had not seen water in a great time. "My Lord...please...my son..."

"If your son is dead, Lucius, it is not my fault. He did not come and join me, like the rest of the Slytherins. Perhaps he has decided to befriend Harry Potter?"

"No-never," whispered Malfoy.

"You must hope not."

"Stupefy!" I screamed, light blasting from my wand. But the Death Eater evaded it, with a flick of the hand that was almost calm. I took a step forward and almost stumbled: charred pieces of rubble had fallen from gaping holes in the floor and ceiling, and it was especially ruined out on the bridge.

"What are you doing here?" I yelled behind me at the three terrified first years, whose screams alerted me to come to their location, where a Death Eater had cornered them. Luckily, he hadn't hurt them-yet-like a cat playing with a mouse.

I didn't even hear the terrified answer over the man's shouted "Crucio!" Instinctively, I dove to the side, the curse firing aimlessly out into the starry night. My heart was beating wildly as he took a step toward me-I was sprawled on the ground, and he had the advantage-but suddenly he was flying through the air, slumping to the ground and not moving.

"Draco!" I shouted happily as he was revealed. I gladly took his hand up, and I turned to the girls behind me.

"C'mon, we've got to get them to Pomfrey, or someone!" We hurried off as fast as we could, but something was wrong-on the way back. Very wrong. Bodies everywhere, rubble-but no people.

"Hello?" I called nervously, want out, picking up my feet as we ran through the rubble covered corridor.

"Astoria! Tori!" Julie's voice called to me, voice echoing-she ran forward, breathless. Thankfully, she seemed to be alright, aside from a limp and the small gash on her cheek, and a black eye.

"I-I don't know what's happened, all of the Death Eaters ran into the forest-and-and everyone's gathering down there," she pointed, and I could see through the great hole in the floor the many students of the mass below us, gathering, treating those most fatally injured. Everything was too quiet, and our footfalls too loud as we pounded down the steps to join everyone, pushing toward the throng to the front to find a familiar face. Trying not to look at the bodies.

"Neville, Ginny, what-"

"Harry Potter is dead. He was killed as he ran away, trying to save himself while you lay down your lives for him. We bring you his body as proof that your hero is gone. The battle is won. You have lost half your fighters. My Death Eaters outnumber you, and the boy who lives is finished. There must be no more war. Anyone who continues to resist, man, woman, or child, will be slaughtered, as will every member of their family. Come out of the castle now, kneel before me, and you shall be spared. Your parents and children, your brothers and sisters will live and be forgiven, and you will join me in the new world we shall build together."

Voldemort's voice came, loud and magnified, filled to the brim with evil and confidence.

"He's lying!" Came Ginny's wavering, fearful voice.

"Don't listen to him!" Neville added. But several students had screamed. Amongst the screams, desperate shouts sounded-

"Don't listen to him!"

"He's a murderer, a liar!"I added my rallying shout and soon, shouts against Voldemort rose, spiraling into one beautiful harmony, rising to the sky.

"Avada Kedavra!"

"Expelliarmus!" The bang of Voldemort's and Harry's curses colliding excelled the noise of a cannon blast. Golden flames erupted, licking at the air, scorching it.

And so fast it could have been missed in a blink-Voldemort's wand flew behind him, into the sunset-this was, indeed, the sunset of the century. Not because of the ribbons of colors dancing away from the sun, but what it symbolized-it was setting on Voldemort's era.

And all in the same moment, the wand that had preciously been Voldemort's flew into Harry's outstretched hand-that, perhaps, would have been the Dark Lord's last sight before he fell. Cold. To the ground, dead.

The silence rang but for a moment-then every imaginable sound of joy filled the air, everyone was grasping at Harry, everyone was trying to touch their hero, just for a moment to be near they boy who lived and lived and lived, the defeater of Voldemort...

The morning drew on-the dead were tended to, firstly. Sarah and Julie and I said a last goodbye to Lucy with her parents. We were going to be sad-in fact, it was as if a bit of my heart had been buried under the earth with my best friend's body. For a while, everything reminded me of Lucy. But Sarah and Julie and I were still alive, and we knew that Lucy, if anyone, would be in a better place, as would Remus, Tonks, and Fred.

The innocents and Azkaban were being released, Kingsley Shacklebolt named the temporary Minister of Magic. Death Eaters were fleeing and being captured-Draco's parents were allowed to stay, as was Draco, although his parents were being watched carefully. They had his house guarded 24\7 by trusted aurors until they proved themselves, and they couldn't go anywhere alone.

But Lucius and Narcissa displayed no signs of reverting to their old ways, none at all-as a matter of fact, they had all the signs of being in shock. My parents had extended hospitality to the Malfoys, and they were currently residing at our house. Draco had never been so alive, as he told me, and no one had ever felt so free. We had began to rebuild the world.

Even the Dark Mark on his arm was facing, only a wispy shadow of what it had once been. But there was no mention of the proposal, if it even was one. It was like it had never happened.

Three Years Later

I rapped on the door to the Burrow, knowing full well what was coming-Little Teddy Lupin, for the life of his, could not keep a secret.

"Hell-ow, Tor-ri!" Teddy himself greeted me at the door, after what was probably a struggle to reach the doorknob. "Happy Birfday!"

"Why thank you, Ted!" I laughed, stepping in. "Where is everyone?" I acted along with it, and little Teddy could barely contain his excitement. He was hopping madly, which only contributed to my already gargantuan smile.

"SURPRISE!" The Burrow, looking at its cleanest, (and emptiest, up until the last moment) suddenly erupted into a burst of people and noise-everyone cheered and swarmed around.

"You should've seen the look on your face!" Harry laughed, giving me a one-armed hug, the other hand in a beaming Ginny's. Ron and Hermione come up as well as the rest of the Weasleys-Percy, Charlie, Bill, Fleur, Mr and Mrs. Weasley...as well as Julie, Sarah, and Teddy, who had been looking up at baby Victoire in her mother's arms.

"Harry birthday, dear!" Mrs. Wealsey beamed, pulling me into a hug. I looked around, beaming at the decorations bearing the number "20" all around the house. Julie and I were immediately pulled toward Harry, Ginny, Ron and Hermione as we began to trade stories about the beginnings of our careers, Julie and mine being healers. Harry and Ron were aurors, Hermione working for the Ministry, in the Department of the Regulation and control of Magical Creatures, and currently working on the improvement of house elves' lives, and Ginny was playing for the Holyhead Harpies.

"Where's Draco?" I frowned, looking around for my boyfriend. Ginny and Julie exchanged looks like they were trying to shut down smiles, and Harry and Ron, I could tell, were one breath away from bursting out guffawing. "What?" I asked, befuddled.

"Oh, he's here...he'll be...right down," Hermione chose her words carefully.

"Alright," I said, puzzled, but happy that he was indeed here.

Ten minutes later, and still no sighting of him, but I managed to submerge myself into the room of people I loved-minus my parents, Daphne, her husband, and their two year old daughter, Lacey. I had celebrated with them earlier that day. I was holding baby Victoire now, captivated by her infant veela beauty, cooing at her ocean-blue eyes identical to her mother's.

"Hi, sweetheart!" I cooed, her tiny fingers wrapping around one of mine. She offered me a toothless smile, a squeal of joy at the face I pulled at her, and I lean back into the couch, supporting her so it looked like she was standing on my legs. A warm summer breeze rustles in from the window behind us, lifting a tendril of hair that had slipped out of my ponytail.

"Ted, stop, no, you're going to break-!" Ron stomped after Teddy, who was shaking with laughter, on a miniature broomstick from Harry on his last birthday, zooming between legs and narrowly missing taking out a flowered vase. I turned Victoire around so she could witness the scene, and Ginny plopped down next to me.

"There goes your future husband, babe!" She grinned at Victoire, and I brushed my thumb on her chin.

"Already trying to set up Ted and Victoire, Gin?" I laughed softly, raising a knowing eyebrow.

"You know it," she winked.

"No proposal yet, then?" I said when I noticed her eyes lingering on Harry, across the room, as he talked to Mr. Weasley.

"Nope," she sighed. "And same with Hermione. You?"

"I'd tell you the minute he did," I sighed.

"Boys," she said disgustedly. "They've all still got a bit of their mind stuck back in the war. They've got nothing to protect us from! Besides, we're adults-oh," she stopped abruptly. "Coming, Harry!" She got up off the couch and went to Harry's side.

"Did you hear him call her? I didn't," I said to Victoire, even though I knew she wouldn't understand me. I stood up, grinning.

"Happy birthday," whispered my favorite voice in the world from behind me, and a pair of strong arms wrap around my waist from behind, arms that only bore a faint shadow of what was once a Dark Mark.

"Draco!" I said excitedly, twisting around to smile at him as my heart flipped. Fleur came and took Victoire to nurse, and Draco and I sat back on the couch, and he put his arms around me.

"This cake is amazing, Molly, you've really outdone yourself yet again," Sarah complimented. A yellowish glow was thrown on the Weasley's land around us from the floating paper lanterns, rivaling the summer night stars for beauty.

"I helped!" Called Teddy from his chair, chocolate smeared back to his ears.

"Oh dear, you're covered in cake!" Fleur exclaimed, attacking him with a napkin. She'd only finished when I was about to open my designated first present from George, who said it would also be entertainment. The wrapper said Weasley's Wizard Wheezes, and I knew it must be special since it was what must be the first Weasley product he'd made since Fred died.

I opened carefully, at the ready. "Should I be holding this at arm's length?" I laughed, watching George's face.

"Ah, no, this one's safe. But don't think you're off the hook just because you're turning twenty, my pranks just not in this specific package," he winked.

"Alright," I nodded, tearing open the rest of the wrapping. Inside, on a tiny pedestal, was a set of miniscule magic instruments-anything from a harp to a violin. Even a tiny, red-haired conductor at the front that I could only assume was George.

"Oh George, I love it!" I laughed, flipping over the back to read- "Mini-me and Symphony." under the words sat a tiny button.

"What's this do?" I asked him, pointing at the button.

"Try it out," came his reply. I pressed it and immediately floated into the air, expanding until it was about half of normal size. Mini-George raised his baton, and the unmanned instruments rise.

Then cheery, upbeat, dancing music filled the air in a flash, and everyone was up, laughing and dancing. Draco twirled me around, looking as happy as I'd ever seen him.

"You're happy tonight," I smiled at him.

"Of course I am, I'm with you," he said, bending down to give me a quick kiss.

"Harry, Draco kissed Tori, Draco's kissing Tori!" Teddy laughed hysterically, and both Draco and I ducked our heads, laughing and embarrassed. Bill scolds Teddy gently, and Ginny and Harry snickered.

"Hey Tori, can we talk?"

"Oh...yeah," I said in a smile voice. Bloody...'can we talk?' Typical break-up words...no, I'm not crying! Stop it! My mind tried to wrap itself around one of the jumbled thoughts in my brain-if he was going to dump me, why would he do it on my birthday? Why was his hand on my back?

Is this why he was so nervous earlier? At least he had the decency to do it in private, then...

And I was shocked, surprised, and it was perfect.

Because in the light of the moon, the stars twinkling, wind rustling through the trees thick with lush summer leaves-Draco Malfoy proposed to me.

**The End**

Stories never really end,

even if the books like to pretend they do.

They don't end on the last page,

any more than they start on the first.

-Inkspell

Cassia

PLEASE READ!

Holy Merlin. I can't believe it's done...if you guys haven't already, put me in author alerts if you want to read my next story! It's Lily\James, and should be coming soon!

Thanks to 2cool4you, who convinced me to keep going a while back when I wanted to give up. To my beta, even though we've been out of touch these last few chapters. And to MLB (NOT major League baseball) who I was thinking of when I chose the names for the stupid snatchers;)

Thank you to all who ever even clicked on this. This story is dedicated to you.