The End or Just the Beginning
A/N: Disclaimer's in the first chapter. This is the final chapter. Again, if you have any specific ideas you'd like to see in the sequel, drop me a line! You'll get credit for the idea in the sequel.
September 19, Hogwarts, Evening
Xander woke ... feeling completely fine. This was rather a confusing state of affairs, given that he had been kicking demon ass for the better part of the night, only to get knocked on his ass by explod-a-Voldie. That memory made Xander grin a bit. It had been quite satisfying, killing that ugly son of a bitch. By all rights, he should be in a world and a half of pain, but he wasn't. For once, he could definitely appreciate the benefits of magic. Insta-cured owies were of the good. He started to push himself to a sitting position only for Madam Pomphrey to descend on him.
"You lie right back down!" She scolded. "I need to check you over!"
Xander tried to glare at her, but Pomphrey was not one to be easily intimidated, and ignored him until she'd run her wand up and down him a few times. When whatever she was getting from the scan met her standards, she huffed. "You're fine. But you're to take it easy for the next couple of days!" She told him, then stomped off to go deal with her next patient.
Xander sat up again and focused on the rest of the infirmary, or tried to. His bed was surrounded by white curtains. He got to his feet and pushed them aside to take a look. Every bed seemed to be in use, curtained off from the others to provide the inhabitants some privacy. He grimaced. "Damn. I hate this part of the job." He muttered.
Spike, having heard him moving and talking, poked his head through the curtains next to where Xander had been. "Oi, Xan. Sprat's in here. He's all right. Sleepin' at the mo'."
Xander immediately walked over and poked his head through the curtains to check on Harry. He looked a little pale and a little dirty, but otherwise fine. Xander let out a relieved breath, and slipped through to join Spike.
"So how'd we do?" He asked.
Spike grimaced. "Lost two Slayers and a dozen kids." He admitted.
Xander cursed, then sighed. "I suppose it could have been worse, but dammit!"
"Yeah, yeah. The wolf's pretty tore up. He'n that Fenrir bloke went at it hammers and tongs, evidently. Black's not too much better, but they're both gonna live. The red-headed brats are all mostly fine. Gonna have a few interesting new scars, but that's about the size of it. Most everyone else is in similar shape ... no missing bits or slow deaths or whatnot. Only exception's that Snape bloke and Flitwick. Don't think either of them got so much as a scratch." He sounded faintly admiring of that feat. "Got a couple prisoners ... literally. Only two of 'em had the wits to surrender rather than run. All the rest ended up dead by demon."
"Ouch. And also, convenient." Xander said. "Do you know which two?"
"Blondie and one of his minions." Spike supplied.
Damn. Malfoy lived. Well, they'd deal with him and his 'minion' later. Xander left Harry's bedside to start checking the various beds. He took care to speak to everyone who was awake, especially the Slytherins, Zabini, Higgs, Bulstrode, Greengrass, Nott, and Pucey. He quickly discovered that Spike was right. There would be a number of interesting scars, and a hell of a lot of interesting stories to be told, but remarkably there were no limbs or other body parts missing, and no one had been hit with a spell that killed over the long term. Spike hadn't been kidding about Snape and Flitwick either. They were both mussed, the edges of their cloaks were torn, and they definitely looked like they'd had an exceedingly long night, but they appeared to be wholly uninjured, and aside from Spike, Faith and now himself, they were the only ones apparently on their feet already.
"Who did we lose?" He wanted to know as he approached the two men.
Flitwick, expression sad, named them all off. Every House had lost at least one, among them Marietta Edgecombe, Cormac McLaggen, Ernie Macmillan, and Goyle junior. That young man's appearance among the Slytherin defenders had been a bit of a surprise to Xander, given his ... friendship? Guarding? Whatever ... of Malfoy junior. Xander nodded once Flitwick had finished and moved off, heading for Faith.
"One got swarmed by those damn spiders." She told him after one look at his face. "Get enough bites and not even Slayer healing can deal with it. The other took a horn to the gut. Bled out before anyone could get her to safety."
Xander grimaced. "Yeah, that would do it." He agreed. "Who were they?"
The names she gave were not, thankfully, Sunnydale survivors. There were few enough of them as it was, dammit. Unfortunately, both were girls Xander had known, being among his first African recruits. He swore viciously. The African Slayers, more so than the rest, were his girls, their importance to him only slightly less than that of the Scoobies. The two girls' deaths were deeply felt ones. Fortunately, he got a diversion in the form of Spike sticking his head out into the main part of the infirmary again. "Oi! Brat's awake!"
That had both him and Pomphrey converging on Spike, though Pomphrey beat Xander there and promptly chased Spike out so that she could check Harry over, much to Xander's amusement. After a few moments she came back out and sniffed. "He'll be fine. A few day's rest and relaxation is all he needs." She told them.
Xander headed into the curtained-off area and mock-glared at Harry, arms crossed over his chest. "You, young man." He said. "Are in so much trouble I don't even know where to start."
Harry looked abashed. "I had to di it." He said. "He never would have got involved unless I gave him a shot at me. It was me he wanted. I figured somebody's shoot him as soon as they got the chance."
"Good thing for you I figured out what you were up to." Xander said. "And your quip-fu is rather weak, young padawan. We shall have to work on that." That got a giggle out of Harry. "Seriously Harry, no Moldyshorts, no Voldiesnot, no muddyshirt? You couldn't piss him off with the hundred and fifty billion ways to mock his made up name, you had to go with calling him Tom repeatedly? That's weak, kiddo. Real weak. You've got a ways to go before you can claim to have learned the ways of Quip-Fu." With that mock scold, he left Harry, who was snickering quietly, to go check up on the others again.
Eventually, Xander made his way out of the infirmary to check on everyone who hadn't gotten laid up in there. Many of the Slayers were outside working on hauling what bodies hadn't disintegrated into nothing during the day into piles, dividing them according to animal, demon, and human, so they could be dealt with as required.
September 20, Hogwarts
It wasn't until the next morning, after a much-needed night's sleep, that Xander even remembered there was someone in the castle who really needed to be told about the battle and the outcome. There needed to be some gloating, and he was entirely too happy to be the one to do it. With that in mind, he headed for Dumbledore's quarters.
"Ahhh, you've come for my assistance?" Dumbledore asked the moment the door was opened.
Xander blinked at him, reluctantly admiring of the man's delusions or cojones, he wasn't quite sure which it was. "Nope. Not a bit of. Just came up here to tell you it's all over. All the horcruxes are destroyed ... yes, including the one in Harry. I can provide you with a pensieve memory of that if you want. And as you may or may not have noticed, Voldemort tried to storm the place last night. There were two survivors on his side. And remarkably few losses on our side." Xander informed him.
"How did Harry defeat Voldemort then?"
"He didn't." Xander said, trying not to grin.
"Then you will need me to help you. He will eventually return, with another army to do his bidding."
"I didn't say Voldemort didn't get beaten and killed, Dumbles." Xander said with a shake of his head. "I said Harry wasn't the one to do it. I was. Took an axe to him, literally. One chop later, his head came off and both head and body blew up. It was rather impressive."
"He may not ... "
"He's gone. Willow checked." It had been one of the first things Willow had done when the furor died down, to make absolutely sure Voldemort was done for. "He's gone. Totally and completely. By now, the news has reached the rest of the wizarding world. There ought to be some pretty awesome parties going on. Too bad you're going to miss all of it. You're going to be transferred to another jail at some point in the next few days, once people calm down. No one wants you here. Once you're wherever we finally put you, that's going to be it. You get to spend the rest of your life alone and forgotten about. Have fun with it." Xander closed the door and walked out.
Just after dinner, everyone was mobile again, if, in a few cases, only barely, and Hogwarts finally joined the growing wave of parties and jubilation spreading throughout the British wizarding world. There was a lot of laughter, a lot of tears, a ton of drinking, fireworks, and pretty much the entire population of mail owls in Britain were flying back and forth as people traded news and gossip.
Things wound down at Hogwarts a lot faster than they did anywhere else, thanks to exhaustion and injury. Still, as everyone was heading for bed, Xander found himself confronted with one Draco Malfoy.
"What's going to happen to my father?" Draco wanted to know.
"That's not been decided yet." Xander said. "He's got a lot to answer for, though, Draco. I'm not going to lie to you."
Draco sighed and nodded.
"Why didn't you fight?" Xander wanted to know.
"Because my father was out there, and I refuse to ... I can't ... he's my father." Draco said. "I just ... couldn't."
"Didn't really help that you don't think Voldemort was exactly wrong, does it?" Xander guessed. "Just really damn stupid in how he decided to make his opinion known."
Draco blinked at Xander for a long moment. "How ... "
"I pay attention to people." Xander said. "How they talk, how they act. Whatever Snape said to you guys made you think ... probably because you don't have any intention of being someone's lackey ... but it wasn't enough to convince you that non-purebloods are worth the air they breathe." He gave Draco a toothy grin. "You might want to actually get to know the people you're badmouthing before you condemn them entirely. They might just surprise you."
Draco sneered a bit, then turned and walked away.
"Do you think he's salvageable?" Xander asked thin air.
"It will take time. His father was quite ... vociferous ... in his views." Snape said, stalking out of the shadows. "His world has been thrown into chaos, but he has the potential to be a true Slytherin. If he can learn to adapt, he'll do well."
"Do I want to know what you told them to get them to open their eyes?" Xander asked.
"Merely the truth, brutal and unappealing as it may have been." Snape said. "I have found over the years that it is the best weapon, though it was all too seldom that I was able to wield it, at least in the way I wanted to." He glanced over at Xander. "You told Dumbledore?"
"Yeah. He didn't look so happy about it. Thought it might not be over. I offered him pensieve memories if he wanted proof though, and that shut him up. Mostly."
"What do you intend to do with him long term?"
"He's going to have to answer for his crimes. Right now, he's laboring under the belief that he's to be shut up forever, forgotten and alone. I figured that was suitable enough punishment until we could do something official once the hooplah died down." Xander said. "Though if I have any say, that will be his punishment, rather fitting for him, I think."
"The next months are going to be rather interesting." Snape observed.
"No shit." Xander told him. "Picking up the pieces is never easy."