Well, I decided to bang out another chapter for you, so here we are! Getting close to the end! JKR owns all, but I hope you enjoy! Xx

Chapter 23

Harry was kneeling at Snape's side when he heard the high, cold voice speak to him. At first, he thought Voldemort had entered his mind, but turning towards Ron and Charlie, he realized he was talking to Hogwarts and everyone in the surrounding area.

"You have fought valiantly. Lord Voldemort knows how to value bravery," said the high cold voice. "Yet you have sustained heavy losses. If you continue to resist me, you will all die, one by one. I do not wish for this to happen. Every drop of magical blood spilled is a loss and a waste. Lord Voldemort is merciful. I command my forces to retreat immediately."

Harry sent Ron a quizzical look, who shrugged in response.

"You have one hour," the voice continued. "Dispose of your dead, treat your injured."

Charlie shuddered.

"I speak now, Harry Potter, directly to you. You have permitted your friends to die for you rather than face me yourself. I shall wait for one hour in the Forbidden Forest. If, at the end of that hour, you have no come to me, have not given yourself up, then the battle recommences. This time, I shall enter the battle myself Harry Potter, and I shall find you, and I shall punish every last man, woman, and child who has tried to conceal you from me. One hour."

Charlie shook his head. "Don't be daft Harry.

"Don't listen to him," Ron said. "Let's go back to the castle, and we'll figure something out."

Harry didn't say anything. He took one last glance at Snape's body before quickly exiting through the tunnel. Ron and Charlie followed behind.

Hermione watched as the Death Eaters began to leave the castle. Looking around, she realized she needed to find the boys. "I hope Harry doesn't do what I think he's going to do," she grumbled.

Ethriel remained silent. "My Lady, I'm going to regroup with the rest of the elves."

Hermione nodded. "I'll come as well. See if there is anyone we can heal."

Hemera let out a roar, before turning and landing in the rubble. They made their way towards the Great Hall, where everyone was gathering.

Moving forward, a sob escaped her lips. "No," she whispered, the tears rolling down her face. Lying there, on a mat, was Fred Weasley. Molly was lying across his chest, while Arthur rubbed her back. "No," she whispered again.

Ginny turned and saw Hermione. With tears streaming down her face, she ran towards her, barreling into a hug. "Oh Mione," Ginny sobbed.

Hermione hugged her tightly, the tears streaming down her face. Moving forward with Ginny, she allowed her grief to consume her. She noticed Tonks and Remus lying next to them, pale and still. Her heart broke into a thousand pieces. She knew there would have been causalities, but she just wasn't prepared.

"Oh Fred," she whispered, still not believing what was going on.

A scream erupted near the doorway. Turning, Hermione saw Ron, Harry, and Charlie. Ron didn't say anything to her, just slowly moved forward, joining Bill and Fleur. Percy wrapped his arms around Ron, hugging him close.

Charlie crashed into her, wrapping his arms around her tightly. Looking up, their eyes met. Charlie quickly pressed his lips to hers. He needed to know she was real, that she was really standing there. He could feel her hot tears rolling down her cheeks, and as he pulled away, he realized he was crying too.

"Oh Charlie," Hermione whispered, before another sob wracked her body. Charlie held her tightly, whispering in her ear.

They both knew the battle wasn't over, it had only just begun.

Hermione pulled away from his embrace, but held his hand tightly. The two of them moved closer to the family, to where Fred's lifeless body laid.

Hermione wished she could rip out her heart, her innards, everything that was making her hurt like this. "It isn't fair," she whispered.

"I know," Charlie replied, squeezing her hand tightly. He couldn't believe it. Fred was dead. Fred, the life of the family, was dead. Looking around, he saw George was just sitting there; a look of complete disbelief was on his face. George had just lost his twin, his better half. Grief consumed him.

Hermione was wiping her eyes when it hit her. Looking around, she realized someone was missing. Turning, she tugged on Charlie's shirt. "Where's Harry?"

Charlie didn't hear her. "What?"

"Where is Harry?" Hermione asked, increasingly becoming more worried.

He shook his head, looking around. "I don't know, he was with us when we came to the Great Hall."

Hermione looked around. She didn't see him anywhere. Hemera, find Harry! But don't be seen by the Death Eaters.

"I'm on it," Hemera replied.

Turning to Charlie, she grabbed his hand. "We need to find Harry!"

Ron pulled himself from Percy's arms and came over. "What's wrong?"

"Harry's gone!" Hermione exclaimed, the tears pouring down her face.

The color drained from Ron's face. "We need to find him."

"Oh, he's such an idiot," Hermione wailed. "Probably gone to turn himself in."

"Hermione, calm down, we'll find him and stop him, all right?" Charlie said, rubbing her back soothingly.

"But what if it's too late?" she cried.

Ron took a deep breath. "Then we continue fighting. We know what we need to do. So we'll do it."

Hermione shook her head, the panic still evident.

Charlie's eyes widened. "He probably went to Dumbledore's office so he could view Snape's memories!"

He turned and started running, Hermione and Ron following him. When they approached the gargoyle, Hermione quickly said "Dumbledore," watching as it stepped aside. Pushing past the boys, she climbed the stairs.

She jumped in the office, quickly looking around. The pensieve was out. She felt all the hope inside her fizzle out… it was too late.

"He was here," she said to Ron and Charlie, "but he's gone now."

Charlie put his arms around her. "Maybe Hemera will find her."

"Hermione, I'm so sorry," Hemera's voice sounded out.

Hermione shook her head. "No, no, it can't be."

Charlie opened his mouth to ask her what was wrong, but stopped when the loud voice crashed upon his eardrums.

"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."

Hermione let out a scream.