A/N. A thousand apologies to you all. I know it's been too long since my last update, but I had a good reason for not updating. It's quite unbelievable, honestly, I couldn't believe it myself…I finally found my long lost brother. The last time I saw him was 11 years ago, so I thought his visit was more important than a story. Sorry. Anyway, this is the new, and probably the last chapter. I want to either check it myself again, or find a good beta, because it certainly needs quite a bit of correcting, and maybe I'll write an Epilogue, but I'm not so sure. I'll wait for your reviews to make a decision.
Either way, I want to thank all my readers for their encouraging reviews. Without you I might have abandoned this story long ago. When I started writing, I honestly didn't expect the positive response it got from everyone.
Thank you all for your words, and in some cases ideas. Love you all.
The Great Hall was packed. Students, parents, Order members, Aurors, and even the Minister for Magic was there. And everyone was demanding answers.
By some miracle, they had managed to exit the Hospital Wing and travel through the corridors without anyone bothering them. Severus had easily guided them towards the teachers' entrance and now they were only waiting for Dumbledore. In that matter, both Harry and Draco had quickly offered to retrieve the currently unconscious old man from the dungeons.
Hermione opened the door a bit more and she could clearly see a sea of redheads seated just to the left of the High Table. Molly, Arthur, Fred and George, Bill, Percy and even Charlie. She could also clearly see the Order members seated in the first rows of chairs with Kingsley, Moody and Amelia Bones the closest to the podium. She had to say, Minerva McGonagall was indeed a mistress in Transfiguration. She had transfigured wide glass screens from a few plates and methodically placed them over the seats.
Minerva had told her for what they were, and an evil glint seemed to make it's way in Hermione's eyes. Tonight, the public wouldn't only hear the story of Harry Potter…They would see it.
Dumbledore was going down 'in stile', as Kingsley had once put it.
''Ready Mione?'' Harry asked as soon as he and Draco reached her.
Hermione winked and grinned at the two boys then tilted her head a little to be able to see behind them. Sure enough, Dumbledore was still unconscious and hovering just behind the boys. A few light bruises and scratches could be seen, but nothing more. She had instructed the vampires, and everyone else for that matter, that Dumbledore was not to be harmed. The bastard deserved to suffer the same fate Sirius had for twelve years.
''I can't wait to see the Order members' faces. I know Moody will be proud of us, but I don't know about the others.'' Hermione said and kissed Severus' cheek.
''Granger…'' Draco groaned, ''…please, not in front of us…'' he said and bent over with a hand over his mouth.
''Oh, har har. Shut up and get ready. The others are already seated.'' Hermione said and smacked him upside the head.
Harry laughed, but his grin died on his lips as Hermione pushed him towards the door with a glare. It had been decided that Harry, as the Boy-who-lived, The Chosen One, and the Savior of the wizarding world, should open the speech about his life at the Dursleys for the first eleven years of his life, and then the almost six at Hogwarts. And then, as they would start to wonder why he was telling his story when he had refused so many times, they would start enlisting Dumbledore's meddling.
Of course, Harry had whined and pleaded for the past hours, but Hermione only pulled on his ear and reminded him of Sirius and the years he'd endured locked up in a cell with Dementors as guardians.
Locking eyes, Hermione gave him an encouraging smile and a hug then opened the door.
The Great Hall erupted in cheers as soon as he stepped on the platform, followed by the others, but quickly stopped as they caught sight of the hovering Dumbledore.
Seated at the High Table, were Minerva McGonagall, Narcissa Malfoy, Poppy Pomfrey, Pomona Sprout and Fillius Flitwick.
It was obvious that the people were curious as to what Narcissa was doing seated with the others, but everyone ignored both the questioning looks and occasional shout, and took their respective seats.
''Thank you all for coming tonight…'' Harry started and the Great Hall was suddenly silent. ''I'm sure everyone wants to know what I am doing up here…Well, I'll start with what I know and go from there…''
Hermione had never felt more proud of Harry than she was at that moment. Usually, when he talked about his parents he would tear up, but this time he remained surprisingly calm as he told the story of his life.
She could see both Minerva and Narcissa crying openly as Harry told and showed everyone what he had endured in the Dursley household. Madam Bones was watching Harry with a murderous glint in her eye as the Quick-Quote-Quill scribbled furiously on a long piece of parchment that hovered by her left elbow.
Hermione had asked Severus to contact the head of the DMLE and instruct her not to intervene, no matter what the magic detectors around Hogwarts showed.
Amelia had asked a lot of questions, but accepted as soon as Severus gave her an oath that she would get the answers she wanted soon enough.
It would have been a pity to have Aurors running around, without knowing what was going on. She had trained the DA for almost a year. Trained them to fight and protect each other, having Aurors around would have only meant unnecessary deaths.
Glancing towards the chair Dumbledore had been bound to, Hermione couldn't stop the smirk from spreading on her lips. The old man had been silenced and was now staring wide-eyed between Harry, the screens and a livid Remus Lupin.
For the next three hours, the Great Hall sat in stunned silence as Harry went through his Hogwarts years, showing them his confrontation with Quirrel, the Basilisk, saving Sirius, the first time he faced Voldemort in the graveyard, the battle at the DoM, and finally the prophecy.
When the questions started pouring on him like rain on a summer day, Harry turned with wide eyes and a gaping mouth towards Hermione. Taking pity on him, Hermione rolled her eyes and joined him at the podium then started explaining where and how Dumbledore had meddled.
''To be honest, if we start at the very beginning, we could even blame the very existence of Voldemort on Albus Dumbledore…''
''Miss Granger, what you are claiming is very impossible, honestly…'' Hannah Abbot's mother huffed and Hermione smirked as her daughter glared.
''Is it ma'am? How would you have been if the headmaster was aware that you were bullied, beaten and generally mistreated for years at the orphanage you grew up in? Because that's what happened to Tom Marvolo Riddle, later known as Lord Voldemort. Tom was a boy that hoped his life would change by coming to Hogwarts. He was sorted into Slytherin, but being a half-blood meant that even here he was bullied and mocked. And neither the headmaster, nor any of the teachers ever did anything. Dumbledore was the Transfiguration professor at the time. He had been the one to retrieve young Tom from the orphanage, and had seen in what conditions he lived. Yet he was sent 'home' every summer. I am very aware that ever since 1854, Hogwarts has been allowed to house any student during the holiday if they didn't have where to go, or the conditions weren't pleasant. Do you follow the pattern here? Dumbledore loves to manipulate people. And having mistreated children see him as the loving headmaster that would save them from their horrid life come 1st September seemed to be the best way to achieve that. Despite growing up to love the Dark Arts and becoming the evil Dark Lord, Tom Riddle was a very powerful young man, and had very much potential. But no one gave him a chance.'' Hermione sighed and took a sip of water. ''Lilly and James Potter could have been saved. For a start, the prophecy is a fake. Cybil Trelawney was under the Imperious Curse when she said it. Secondly, Dumbledore was the one that cast the Fidelius Charm that hid the Potters, thus knowing who the Secret Keeper was. Albus Dumbledore allowed Sirius Black to live under lock and key, guarded by Dementors for twelve years, knowing that he was innocent….'' And so, Hermione continued, explaining how the Potters could have very well been hidden inside Hogwarts, with so many unused rooms, and no one would have been the wiser; how the old man kept Harry away from everyone when he needed them the most… After that followed a list of possible actions Dumbledore could have taken to prevent many of the tragedies that happened at Hogwarts.
Such as not mentioning the third corridor in the speech he gave the school at the welcoming feast in first year, or placing different wards that would have ensured that no one but himself could even see that part of the corridor; such as starting a research through the entire castle, or even do what Harry had done and simply asked Moaning Myrtle, who had died for the exact same reason that the students were petrified; he could have kept the Dementors off grounds, since the headmaster had always had the only say when Hogwarts was involved; he could have rejected the invitation to join the Triwizard-Tournament; and many more.
It was another two hours later that Hermione finished her own speech and told Amelia Bones that she could have any memory she needed from any of them.
Having finished with everything they wanted the world to know, they watched as Dumbledore was taken away by four Aurors, had his wand snapped and his magic bound for the rest of his life, followed by a sentence of 80 years in Askaban.
Then the inevitable happened. When the reporters started approaching with questions, both Ron and Ginny rushed towards them. Ginny attaching herself to Harry's arm, and Ron snaking an arm around Hermione's waist.
Before either of them could do anything though, sweet, quiet Luna Lovegood grabbed a handfull of Ginny's fiery hair and pushed her away, then Severus grabbed Ron by the front of his robe and hauled the idiot away from Hermione.
The reporters watched in fascination as both redheads started shouting at the same time; Ginny at Luna for pushing her away from her boyfriend and savior of the world, not to mention future husband, and Rom at Severus because he was a Death Eater bastard and had no right manhandling a hero, let alone pulling him away from his future wife.
Molly seemed awfully pleased by her children's actions, but her smile quickly turned into a scowl as both Minerva and Narcissa butted in, and nearly screaming so the reporters were able to hear every word, ''Heroes, you say? How, if you were safe, away in the Chamber with the rest of the school and teachers, while the others were fighting for our lives?'' Minerva asked with a smirk on her lips.
Narcissa nodded then pretended to think, ''You know, I've been watching the Avengers train for many weeks now, but I don't remember seeing either of them there. Nor have I heard Harry or Hermione mention them as their…partners?… And I honestly think that Harry would never cheat on Luna, and neither would Hermione on Severus…''
''I'm their best friend, of course I'm as much of a hero as them…'' Ron shouted.
''Harry is mine. He would never love that lunatic…'' Ginny screeched.
Having had enough of the two idiots, and feeling a headache coming, Hermione silenced, bound and banished them to Gryffindor Tower.
''Thank Merlin…'' Draco groaned and massaged his ears, ''I don't know how much more of that I could stand.''
''Where have you sent my children?'' Molly shouted and tried to slap Hermione, only to be stopped by Severus.
''They are both in the Gryffindor common room, Molly. You don't need to get aggressive about it.'' Hermione said calmly. ''Now, if you'll excuse us, I think we all need some rest considering the difficult hours we've been through.''
''Miss Granger! One question, please.''
Hermione grimaced at Rita Skeeter's high-pitched voice, but turned around with an all too sweet smile on her face. ''Yes, Rita?''
Rita smirked. ''Both you and Mr. Potter have stated some facts that have no valid standing as true. How exactly are you going to prove that they were indeed true?''
''To you personally, Miss Skeeter, I have nothing to prove. But I think the minister would be quite willing to question Dumbledore under Veritaserum. If that happens, you will find that everything we have said tonight is true.'' Without another word, she linked her arm with Severus and walked away, followed by Harry, Luna, Draco and Pansy.
As they passed through the Great Hall, many of those around, be them DA members or their parents, would stop them and thank them for helping bring down Voldemort.
In all honesty, Hermione hadn't quite had the time to process the fact that their fighting was finally over. That they would be able to finally have a peaceful life.
Of course, the ministry needed a bit of polishing, but that would be done in no time with the correct people. And if life became too dull, she could always give a hand to the new minister with creating new laws that would allow everyone equal rights everywhere.
It would only be a new adventure, honestly.
Looking back at Harry as he talked and laughed with Luna, Hermione felt a great sense of fulfillment. Finally, after years of mistreatment and stress; after years of worrying for his and his friends' lives, Harry Potter would be able to make his own choices, and decide what was best for himself and his future family.
Draco and Pansy too, had changed. The couple bringing up the rear had nothing left from the two pureblood bigots they'd known from first year.
Hermione could remember the dread and sorrow she'd felt the first time she woke up in Lillith's study, and finding out that she was dead, only to be offered a second chance. She'd hated it at first. The harsh training, the endless hours of study under the best demons…the solitude…
But looking back now, she finally understood that it had been only another trial she'd had to pass through so she could finally have what she wanted. And Hermione got more than that.
Right now, she felt grateful for those years she'd spent amongst the most ruthless and vicious of the demons. Because it gave her the opportunity to save lives and offer a chance to those that maybe wouldn't have had it otherwise.
Feeling Severus' hand give her arm a light squeeze, Hermione looked up to see his beautiful black eyes locked on her.
A year ago, Hermione Granger would have laughed herself silly if someone had suggested that she could end up with Severus Snape, bastard extraordinaire. Now, she couldn't imagine her life without him.
With both Dumbledore and Voldemort gone, the real Severus Snape, the one they saw at every DA training session, could come out, and everyone would be able to see why she loved him so much.
Ever since she'd first set foot inside Hogwarts, her life had been an adventure. Year after year, struggling not only to be accepted by everyone, but to stand by Harry and help him survive. Every year had been like a chapter of a story told and controlled by the fates…Well, those along with Dumbledore and Voldemort…
This new chapter of their life though, would be written by their own hand. A chapter that spoke of new beginnings, friendship and love…life.
A chapter that would end only with their deaths, decades from now, surrounded by children and grandchildren.
And Hermione couldn't wait to start writing…
A/N: What do you think? Please leave me your thoughts...