Chapter 26

Harry had not moved from the spot he stood when he cast the Patronus charm against the Dark Lord. He was afraid that if he moved then he would wake up and he would find that the Dark Lord had not been defeated by his attack, after all. It seemed too good to be true; the Patronus charm was not meant for offensive purposes, it had been created to defend the pure of heart from the darkness that sought to overwhelm and enslave them. Harry was not sure what encouraged him to use the spell against the Dark Lord and was immensely surprised that it succeeded in doing what so many other offensive spells had failed to do. As the seconds ticked by since Voldemort had disintegrated, Harry slumped to the ground completely spent in every sense of the word.

Kingsley Shacklebolt had been a Senior Auror and was one of the most powerful members of the Order of the Phoenix. Like many of the other leading members of the Order of the Phoenix, Kingsley had several conversations with Albus Dumbledore about how the war should be conducted if Dumbledore fell before the war had reached its conclusion. These conversations were very frustrating to Kingsley; like the other members of the Order, he knew the details of Harry Potter's exploits over the years but he couldn't help thinking that it was a folly to put the outcome of the war for the future of the magical world on the shoulders of anyone so young. Harry had proved his abilities and Dumbledore's confidence was infectious but Kingsley could not help but feel that Dumbledore had failed to prepare the boy properly for the task.

When Kingsley had received McGonagall's summon to Hogwarts he was extremely nervous, although one would not have been able to tell by looking at his external appearance. He thought it probable that Harry had been set on a course to sacrifice himself on some bizarre belief of Dumbledore. In the time that Kingsley had spent with Harry, he found that the boy was much more than he was made out to be in the Daily prophet. He was a natural leader that those around looked to for guidance when faced with adversity, he survived and thrived in situations that would have crushed lesser men, he had the skill set to become the next great Master Auror. Kingsley promised himself that he would offer to tutor the boy to make sure that, the next time a Dark Lord rose, the wizard world would be ready. However, there would be time for that in the future; now was a time to celebrate.

Hermione Granger had so many emotions battling for supremacy that she was temporarily at a loss for words. For the third time in two days she had witnessed Harry in battle against Voldemort. She knew that she should be worried when she saw him run from the Great Hall but remembered the scene that she saw in Harry's mental projection of the Chamber of Secrets. She saw Harry reach within himself to find the power that he needed to overcome Voldemort's soul fragment. The battles in the Great Hall and the courtyard once again pitted Harry against one of Voldemort's soul fragments and Hermione knew that he would do what he needed to make sure that none of his friends had to pay the ultimate price for his failure.

Still, her heart had dropped when she saw Voldemort strike Harry with the Cruciatus curse. She was perplexed by the series of events that occurred after Harry had fallen to his knees because of the curse. She couldn't see Harry's face because his back was turned to her but, in a very unexpected turn of events, Voldemort had taken his attention off of his victim and momentarily focused on her. She could have sworn that she saw something change in the monster's expression. When she looked back on the series of events after the adrenaline wore off her confusion would only increase. She had witnessed Harry's victory over the Dark Lord but she couldn't forget the expression that had crossed the Dark Lord's face before he was overpowered. Eventually she would find out what caused the Dark Lord to fall and, in spite all of the odds, allowed her Harry to survive. She didn't even notice that her legs had begun to move her toward Harry.

Ron, Fred, and Ginny Weasley were also teeming with emotions. Their family had paid a very steep price to assure the survival of the magical world. Both their parents and their older two brothers had been killed in the Great Hall and George would require a stay in the infirmary before he became healthy again. The three Weasleys were somber and Ron finally understood what Harry meant when he said that family was more important than any monetary award. Fleur was still alive but they were unsure whether or not the witch would wish to continue her affiliation with the family after her recent husband, and only attachment, had met such a gruesome end.

The Weasley family would never be the same but they would continue fighting for the ideals that their kin had died supporting. The three banded together in solidarity and would do anything within their power to make sure that no other families had to suffer in the way that they did; in the way that Harry did. The young wizard was an inspiration to them all. He faced, what seemed to be, insurmountable odds and still managed to achieve his mission. They had looked on in wonder when Harry's Patronus fought against the Dark Lord's Avada Kedavra curse. If that had been the only part of the battle that they had seen then they would have seen enough to know that the following years would be filled with light. The Weasley family had always been considered a Light family and the survivors of the Battle of Hogwarts would continue upon the path set by their forefathers.

Neville Longbottom was in shock. The past day had redefined his entire life. When he walked through the main doors of Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry as a first-year he was considered to be more of a squib than a wizard. He had exhibited accidental magic at such a late age that he had already been classified as a failure by those who were most influential upon his life. He stumbled through his first year classes and lived within the role that those people prescribed to him and did not acquire a good reputation with the other students in his year. He would probably have continued his quiet unobtrusive existence if not for an impulse that struck him at the end of the year to stand up for what he believed it.

He stood his ground against Harry, Hermione, and Ron when they were going to place themselves in certain danger. Retrospectively, he realized that he should have just gone with his fellow Gryffindors but he wasn't ready for that at the time. As a fifth-year, when he had heard that Harry was going on a dangerous mission to the Ministry of Magic, Neville took the opportunity to atone for his inaction. Since then he had come into his own and, with Harry and his friends, stood against and defeated the Dark Lord and his followers. Neville knew that Harry would succeed and, although he had been worried for his friend, knew that Harry would be the last man standing. Neville knew that there was rebuilding to be done and would see to it in due time but now was a time to congratulate his friend.

Katie Bell's face was impassive. If anyone had told her that she would be there to witness Harry Potter defeating the Dark Lord she would have scoffed. She had emerged herself in her Quidditch training and did not expect to be inducted into the resistance movement. When she was meeting with Alicia Spinnet and Angelina Johnson the group had been laughing and enjoying the time that they had to spend together. Now Angelina was gone and they would never be able to do that again; it was almost as if Katie had lost a part of herself when Angelina died.

Harry had avenged Angelina but a small part of Katie whispered that if the girls had never returned to Hogwarts then Angelina would still be alive. She looked at Harry and the others who stood with her in the courtyard and was able to push those thoughts from her mind. The Death Eaters wouldn't be able to harm anyone again. Unfortunately, Katie didn't know if she could continue playing Quidditch; she would be constantly reminded of what the Death Eaters had stolen from Angelina and Katie didn't know if she was strong enough to deal with that kind of emotional stress. Katie's path was filled with uncertainty but she knew that she would find solace with those who believed what she believed. She would embrace those who opened their arms to her and hope that everything would be alright in the future.

Luna Lovegood had a very proud look on her face. She had never questioned whether or not Harry would win his battle against the Dark Lord. She had seen glimpses of his true power several times throughout the last few years. Even when he appeared to be his regular self his power called out to her like a beacon. Harry had won Luna to his side long before the final battle and the young witch would do anything to help him as long as he consented to give the Quibbler the exclusive play-by-play interview of his triumph over the Dark Lord. Luna noted that the Wrackspurts had finally left Harry and knew that it was time to congratulate her friend.

Susan Bones was the lone Hufflepuff among the group who went outside to support Harry. Her sense of loyalty would not have allowed her to do anything to the contrary. She, Hannah, and Ernie had pledged to support Harry in his quest and she had followed through with her promise. She looked at the people that were around her and realized that they had prevailed when the houses had banded together against their external threat. Hopefully the alliances would hold and the future generations would not be so polarized by house loyalty. If she could do anything to make this dream a reality she would do just that. She wished for house unity and would start by going to support Harry,

Cho Chang had gone out on a limb when she pledged her support to the Light side. Her family had already been ostracized by the Death Eater agenda. If the Death Eaters had prevailed then her family's downfall would have been unavoidable. They had already been disgraced and discarded by the Ministry of Magic. Cho hoped that her actions would be remembered by those that were here today. Her intuition told her that this group would have a large role to play in the shaping of the new magical world. She had proved that she was worthy of defending the magical world and would now do everything in her power to show that she could be more than just another witch on the side-line.

Cho imagined what the new world would look like. It was fortunate that it was someone like Harry who had managed to defeat the Dark Lord. If it had been someone sympathetic to the Dark Lord's agenda then Cho's position would not have improved. Luckily Harry was a half-blood who was not one to suffer the Pure Blood prejudices that had, for so long, shaped the magical world and kept it so far behind the muggle world technologically. Cho wanted to be the witch that helped the magical world close that gap and that meant getting the support of those present. Cho knew that the best way to get support was to give support and that is exactly what she chose to do as she started moving toward Harry.

Daphne Greengrass looked on in stunned silence. Harry had done it; he vanquished the Dark Lord and, in doing so, had saved them all. She could not believe that events had turn out so fortunately. Of course, when she slipped out of the dungeons, she had hoped that they would be able to hold off the Dark Lord. However, to actually defeat him was almost beyond comprehension. By slaying the Dark Lord Harry would be considered the most powerful wizard in magical Britain. Was he truly the most powerful wizard in Britain? Daphne was unsure; but she knew that one would have to be a fool to attempt to harm his friends with him present. Daphne believed that Harry would go far and, as a self-respecting Slytherin, had no problem using her new proximity to help her own rise to power and influence.

In the seconds that followed Harry's conquest of the Dark Lord many things happened. When they looked back, no one could remember who started it but the group broke out in a cheer before rushing to Harry and sweeping him off the ground to thank and congratulate him. Eventually the din of voices quieted to a low roar and Harry was given some space to breathe. The group looked at him with admiration and chattered amicably as they reveled in the fact that the light side had triumphed. The group didn't even realize that the students from Gryffindor and Ravenclaw towers made their way to the courtyard and joined them until they began bombarding Harry and the group with questions. When it was announced that Harry had destroyed the Dark Lord the students went wild and it would be said that the cheer was heard by those in Hogsmeade.

The battle against Voldemort had been decided. Although the fighting had been concluded there was much left to do in order to make sure that the Light side truly won the war. However the Light side had dealt a decisive blow to the forces of Darkness and had an opportunity to fix many of the wrongs that had plagued the magical world for many years. Although the fighting was over, the forces of Light would walk a rocky road as they dealt with the after effects of Voldemort's second rise.


AN: That's it for A Rocky Road. When I get hit with the inspiration I'll begin the sequel. I could be convinced to start it ahead of schedule if my awesome readers leave me some reviews and let me know they want the follow-up sooner rather than later.

AN2: Be sure to check out my other story A Walk in the Park. I like where the words have taken me with that story.