Disclaimer: I do not own Harry Potter.

A/N: This story came about from reading a number of fanfics about how Harry and Hermione's friendship overshadows any romantic relationship, and is my idea of what would happen if they realized what that really meant, before it's too late. The first two lines of dialogue are taken directly from Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix

The Way Out

Harry Potter looked around the coffee shop he was currently sitting in and couldn't help but wonder why on earth he had thought this would be a good idea. Harry was sitting in this frilly pink hellhole and the only thing he could think was that he hated hormones. It was obviously hormones that had made him think this was in any way a good idea as even a few moments of rational thought would inform him that this had been a bad job from the start. Harry looked across the table at Cho Chang and considered his options, they had already talked about quidditch and insulted Umbridge, thereby depleting their common interests and the conversation could only go a few places from here. Based on Cho's usual behavior over the school year Harry could guess pretty well that it would soon turn to Cedric and Cho would begin crying. What Harry really needed was a way out, and as he thought about it he realized he had one already. "Er… listen, d'you want to come with me to the Three Broomsticks at lunchtime? I'm meeting Hermione Granger there." Harry asked nervously. He could only hope that this would derail the imminent waterworks that would come with the discussion of Cedric's death.

If Harry had been more observant Cho's raised eyebrow might have warned him that Cho was totally opposed to the idea of Harry meeting Hermione later. Unfortunately Harry was not being very observant as he was not in immediate danger, at least not to his knowledge. Of course even if Harry had noticed the raised eyebrow he would probably have written it off as a look of curiosity. He was after all a teenage boy, and she was a teenage girl, and therefore the intricate workings of her brain were well beyond his comprehension.

"You're meeting Hermione Granger? Today?" Her tone was taking on a distinctly icy tone.

"Well, yeah. She asked me to, and it seemed important when she asked." Harry replied falling into old habits of going on the defensive when someone questioned his actions.

"So Hermione Granger asks you to be somewhere and you just do as your told?" Cho asked incredulously.

Harry wasn't entirely sure what Cho was suggesting about Hermione, but he was certain that he didn't like it "Of course, She's my best friend and the only person I've always been able to count on. If she says something is important I believe her."

"Well you're going to have to choose between me and her." Cho said simply.

Harry was surprised by her ultimatum, though as he thought about it he really should have seen it coming. Cho had always been competitive and whenever Harry was around her she would turn that up a notch, especially when dealing with Hermione. Once Cho put it like that though, the choice was easy; going out with Cho was already seeming like a bad idea, and it was less than an hour into their first date. Hermione on the other hand was far more important to him, Harry trusted her with his life and wouldn't give her up for anyone.

"Well, if that's the way you feel," Harry began as he fished in his pocket for a galleon "I'll see you around Cho." Harry threw the galleon onto the table to pay for his coffee that he hadn't touched before heading for the door, fighting the urge to punch one of the confetti throwing cherubs.

Once Harry had left the little coffee shop he immediately headed off for the Three Broomsticks, hoping against hope that Hermione would already be their. Harry desperately needed to get her opinion on what had just happened, Harry had no idea if there was any other way he could have handled the situation, but Hermione would know. Harry wasn't all that upset about breaking things off with Cho, but he would need to know for future reference. So intent was Harry on getting to Hermione that he didn't even notice Hagrid as he walked right past the half giant, and Hagrid was so distracted he didn't even notice Harry had already walked away as he mumbled a few comments about the importance of family.

Just as the pub came into Harry's line of sight he saw someone he hoped to never see again, Rita Skeeter. Harry was glad Skeeter hadn't noticed him, right until she walked into the Three Broomsticks. Harry looked through the windows of the pub for Hermione, trying to decide whether it was worth the risk to enter the building while Skeeter was there. After a few seconds he caught sight of Hermione sitting at a table and looking out the window. Making eye contact with Harry she gestured for him to come inside. Harry flicked his eyes toward Skeeter and Hermione immediately understood what he was trying to convey. She stood up from her table and headed for the exit, from where Harry was standing he didn't notice her stop to tell Skeeter to wait at her recently vacated table before walking out to talk to Harry.

"Hey Harry, what happened with Cho, I didn't expect you to get here for more than an hour." Hermione inquired as she pulled Harry into a hug, after four and a half years of being Harry's friend she knew almost instinctively when he needed a hug.

"It ended badly." Harry said simply "Do you have like an hour too talk about it?" He asked with a pleading look in his eyes.

"Well, can you wait a little while, because I asked you to meet me here so you could tell Rita Skeeter exactly what happened in the graveyard last year. Luna's father has agreed to run the story in The Quibbler, so we can finally get your story out there instead of there just being all that stupid stuff the Prophet has been printing about you. Once we finish that we can get something to eat and talk over lunch." Hermione suggested. Harry nodded his agreement and Hermione immediately dragged him into the pub to get the interview over with.

Over the next forty-five minutes Harry told the entire story of the night Voldemort returned up to and including Minister Fudge's reaction to Harry's story in the Hospital Wing. Once Harry was done telling his tale he and Hermione left Rita and Luna to work out the exact details of the publication of the story while they went to a private booth in the corner.

When they had both ordered their lunch Hermione looked at Harry and asked the question she had wanted to ask since she had gone out to talk to Harry, "Do you want to tell me what happened." Hermione didn't doubt for a second that Harry desperately wanted to talk about his obviously failed date, but she knew that if she didn't let him choose to tell her the story he would close up and refuse to give her any more than the basic details.

Harry shrugged and sighed before he began telling her about his date "It started out okay, we talked about quidditch and the World Cup last year while we walked into town, but before we really went anywhere that subject ran dry. It got kinda awkward and then Cho suggested we go to this little coffee shop, Madam Puddifoot's. You know anything about it?" When Hermione shook her head in the negative Harry elaborated "It's a tiny little place and absolutely everything screams sappy romance, pink everywhere, completely overdone and tacky, and that's without taking into account the valentine's day decorations."

"So we sit down and Cho orders us coffee, and I can tell just from smelling it that it isn't very good. We talk a bit more about quidditch, and then about how horrible Umbridge is, but that only lasts a few minutes, and then I realize; we've been talking for less than twenty minutes and we've already exhausted two of the three topics we can both talk about. I could tell just looking at her that she's about to bring up Cedric and I just know it won't end well, and that she's going to make a scene. I guess I owe you for giving me a way out, because I told her that you asked me to meet you, and when she asked why I said that you said it was important. Then she got upset, and I couldn't tell if she was upset that you asked or that I agreed, but the impression I got was that she was pissed I didn't just tell you to sod off. So I tell her that your my best friend, and that you're the only person I've always been able to count on and that you wouldn't say it was important if it wasn't. She didn't like that, so she gives me an ultimatum, you or her, takes me all of five seconds to leave the coffee shop when I realize that it isn't even a choice, the date was over in less than half an hour and I regretted even agreeing to go with her." About halfway through Harry's recounting their food arrived and Harry would take a bite of his roast beef sandwich between sentences, always making sure to swallow before continuing, knowing exactly how much it annoyed Hermione when Ron talked with his mouth full.

"So your date ended because I asked you to meet me for the interview?" Hermione asked sounding a little ashamed.

"I guess, but the way I see it I owe you for saving me from yet another tough spot." Harry told her with a comforting smile "It was probably only a matter of time before things fell apart anyways. I realized the moment she gave me that ultimatum that it was inevitable that she would force me to choose, I guess this way it just underlined the problem early before either of us got really invested in a doomed relationship."

"Harry you don't know that it was doomed, you should have given it a shot." Hermione chided him, though she actually was happy that Harry had chosen her over Cho.

"Yeah I do, Cho would have always tried to push me to stop being your friend just to prove to herself that she was more important to me." Harry assured her, "Guess I should get used to it, I highly doubt I'll be able to find anyone who won't get jealous of you."

Hermione sighed in empathy "I guess so, and it's not like I'm in any better of a position. Any guy I go out with is going to be intimidated by the fact that Harry Potter is my best friend."

"At least you could always go out with Ron." Harry suggested

Hermione rolled her eyes at the very idea of a romantic relationship with Ronald Weasley "No thank you, we fight enough already. I'd give it two weeks before one of us hexed the other, and knowing Ron we'd never speak again. Besides with all the stupid little things he's been jealous of you over do you really think he'd be okay with you being best friends with his girlfriend? The first time I discussed something with you before I discussed it with him he'd blow his top, and since I discuss just about everything with you things would go badly quickly."

As they sat in companionable silence following this discussion Harry began to consider the implications of what had been said. Harry had already decided that no relationship would ever survive the choice between that relationship and Hermione, and Hermione was convinced that she was in the exact same position in regards to Harry. Hermione had clearly stated that she had no intention of dating Ron, and now that he heard her reasons he really couldn't blame her. With the final end of the possibility of a relationship between Ron and Hermione Harry felt a glimmer of hope, ever since the end of third year he had felt something different about Hermione, it wasn't until he saw her at the Yule Ball last year that he realized what it was that he felt, he was attracted to his best friend. Of course that had also been the night that Ron had effectively staked his claim to Hermione, and Harry was quite sure that Ron would never speak to him again if he asked Hermione out. Of course that in and of itself would not have completely dissuaded him, but Ron was always quick to point out how Hermione only argued with him on a regular basis and explained how those arguments were obviously the result of unresolved sexual tension. So believing that Hermione would have been happy with Ron and not wanting to ruin his friendship with Ron he had not acted on his feelings for Hermione, but now...

"Hey Hermione, I've been thinking, clearly the only way I could have a real relationship is if there was no way the other person in the relationship could get upset about how close I am with you, right?" Hermione nodded "And you would need to find someone who wouldn't be intimidated by or jealous of how close you are with me, right?" She nodded again, hoping that Harry was going where she thought he was going with this. "Well, why don't we go out?" Harry asked his voice full of hope.

Hermione didn't even need to ask if Harry was serious, just from the tone of his voice she could tell he genuinely wanted to give a romantic relationship with her a chance. The only question she had to ask was whether she wanted to give it a go. That question was easily answered, Harry was and always would be her best friend. If she had any say in it Harry would always be a big part of her life, and now she had an opportunity to ensure no one tried to take him away from her. The only down side would be admitting to her mother just how right she had been about her feelings for Harry.

"Sure, why not." Hermione answered with a smile.

"So does that make this our first date?" Harry inquired.

Hermione thought for a moment before responding "Normally a first date would start after you asked me out."

"True, but Hermione, when has my life ever been normal?" Harry asked with a grin. "Besides this way we'll always be able to tell people the story of how I asked you out halfway through our first date."

They spent the next hour just talking like they always did when they had free time. Calling it a date didn't make it awkward, but it did somehow make it better. Both Harry and Hermione were coming to the conclusion that this was definitely the way things were supposed to be.

As they were talking the Three Broomsticks slowly emptied as students made their way back to the castle. The two teens didn't notice this though as they were so wrapped up in their own little world where it was just the two of them without all the problems that seemed to follow them around. When the sun finally began to set Madam Rosmerta decided that it was best to interrupt their conversation before they got in trouble for being late getting back.

"Sorry to interrupt dears, but if you don't get going they might lock you out of the castle." Rosmerta told the teens with a smile.

Harry and Hermione thanked her for the warning before they left the pub and headed back up to the school. As they walked Hermione asked Harry a question she had been meaning to ask him since he had told her about his failed date with Cho.

"Harry, when you told Cho that I was your best friend, did you really mean that?"

"Of course," Harry said putting his arm around Hermione's shoulder and pulling her closer "You've been my best friend for years, it took until third year for me to realize that you were a better friend than Ron, but that was more due to me being an idiot than anything else."

"What changed in third year?" Hermione asked looking up at Harry.

"The Firebolt." Harry told her "A couple days after McGonagall confiscated it I realized that you only told her because you were scared that something would happen to me. I wanted to tell you that I was sorry right then, but every time I found you Ron was around, and before I could apologize for my behavior and thank you for caring about me enough to go to McGonagall, he would say something stupid. What really cleared things up in my mind though was that Ron was still making comments behind your back until I let him try out the Firebolt."

"You realized that he hadn't been upset that your broom got confiscated, he had been upset that he hadn't got to try it out." Hermione finished for him realizing exactly what he had been thinking.

"Exactly. Speaking of Ron though, how are we going to tell him about us, because you know he isn't going to take it well." Harry asked with a hint of concern.

Hermione shrugged "I guess we'll just have to tell him and hope he doesn't make a scene. If he does we'll just have to keep him at arms length until he either calms down or crosses a line."

"You're right, if he really is our friend he'll come around eventually and if he isn't then we really don't need him around anyways. However he reacts though I am done taking his side just to keep him around long enough for him to calm down."

"Good" Hermione said smiling at Harry "Though maybe we should ease him into it, build him up to the idea over a couple of days before we actually tell him." Harry nodded his agreement "Of course if he doesn't respond well to the hints of us being together it would probably be best to just get it over with, otherwise it could be graduation before we get him in the right frame of mind."

"Alright, but if we're going to wait a couple of days to tell Ron then I should take this opportunity to do something I've wanted to do since the Yule Ball." Harry said before he leaned forward and kissed hie new girlfriend.

When Harry pulled away Hermione let out a little whine of disappointment before muttering "Screw Ron."

Harry chuckled before he mock-pouted "Leaving me for another guy already?"

"Of course not Harry." Hermione quickly assured him "I just decided that we really shouldn't go to so much trouble over Ron's feelings, after all..." Hermione decided against finishing her original thought.

Harry had no problem with finishing her line of thought for her "After all he hardly gives any thought to our feelings about anything, especially yours." Hermione nodded sadly "Well then we'll just tell it like it is, and if Ron has a problem that's his problem not ours."

"Okay Harry." Hermione said "But let's tell him in private, in case he makes a scene. I'd hate for our second date to be a detention with Umbridge."

Harry scanned the room as he entered, as soon as he was sure there were no immediate threats in the room he stepped aside to clear the door before allowing Neville Longbottom, Luna Lovegood and Katie Bell through and tapping Hermione on the shoulder to let her know it was safe for her to enter the room. Once Hermione had backed into the room, keeping an eye out for pursuers, she closed and sealed the door before turning to look at her boyfriend of the last three months and quirked her eyebrow in an unspoken question.

Knowing immediately what she was asking Harry assured her "The others are going to head for the exit, Susan and Hannah will keep everyone together, and as a group they should be fine." Harry knew that the Death Eaters that were after them would soon be coming through the doors so he set everyone to building up a defensive position. As everyone set to work Harry thought back on the events that had lead him to where he was now.

Hermione had been right that Ron would not take the change in Harry and Hermione's relationship well, he had in fact taken it quite badly, some of the things he had said had left Harry tempted to challenge the prat to a duel, but he had relented from this course of action at Hermione's request. Ron hadn't really talked to either of them since then and Harry had realized that he really didn't care. Cho had been rather upset about Harry going out with Hermione and had quit the DA taking three of her friends with her. One of those friends, a girl by the name of Marietta Edgecombe had later told Umbridge about the DA, but without a charmed galleon had been unable to give her the date and time of a meeting.

Umbridge had pulled Harry and Hermione into Dumbledore's office in an attempt to get them to confess to the activities of the DA, but Harry and Hermione had been happy to point out that without evidence of an actual meeting taking place Umbridge couldn't prove they had broken the Educational Decree forbidding unauthorized student organizations. Umbridge had of course called in Minister Fudge and a couple of Aurors to witness her triumph, and Harry was about to point out that if she expelled them without evidence he would appeal to the Board of Governors, and if he did that, well who knows what kind of dirty little secrets might come out about certain professors, when Dumbledore had stupidly taken credit for the whole thing before escaping from Fudge's bumbling attempt to have him arrested.

The DA had continued to meet, but in light of Dumbledore's behavior Harry began to look into the actual activities of the Order of the Phoenix in the first war, and by extension the activities of the Death Eaters. Harry and Hermione had struck up a friendship with Susan Bones when they discovered just how good she was at interpreting the Auror reports that they managed to obtain. Analysis revealed that most Death Eaters were at best mediocre fighters, overwhelming their opponents with numbers rather than skill, and any time Death Eaters had gone up against more than two qualified witches or wizards at a time there had always been heavy Death Eater casualties. Unfortunately this had done little good for the Order since Dumbledore's standing orders had been to capture any and all Death Eaters, it is after all quite difficult to win a war of attrition when you are unwilling to kill your enemies.

Following these revelations Harry had sat down with Hermione, Neville, and Susan and they had discussed the pros and cons of teaching more lethal methods of combat to the DA. They had decided that they would begin working with everyone on tactics and those who showed the right attitude towards fighting would be taught a handful of more lethal spells while everyone else was taught how to use more common spells to debilitate or even kill opponents.

Then on the day of his History OWL Harry had a vision of Voldemort torturing his godfather in the Department of Mysteries. Hermione had suspected that the vision might be a trap and Harry had agreed that it very well could be. Harry had contacted Sirius on the two way mirror that he had given Harry for Christmas and confirmed that he was nowhere near the Department of Mysteries. Knowing that it was a trap Harry had called together his core group from the DA to decide how to use the situation to their advantage. They came to the conclusion that the Death Eaters waiting in the DoM would most likely be expecting Harry to come alone or with one or two friends, as such there would probably be about ten of them waiting for Harry. With the training they had all undergone they agreed that if they had the Death Eaters on equal numbers they could probably kill or capture all of them. The possibility that Voldemort himself might be present had been quickly discounted as he would not want to risk being discovered and the Ministry was far too public of a location. They had called the rest of the DA together and presented everyone in fifth year or above the option to come with them, in the end instead of ten people going they had ended up with twenty three.

Susan had a portkey to her Aunt Amelia's office in the ministry that she kept with her during the summer in case of emergencies, and the used it to get to London immediately. Hermione had then performed a disillusionment charm on everyone but herself, Harry, and Susan and they had made their way down to the Department of Mysteries. When they arrived at the place Harry had seen in his vision he found a glass sphere sitting on a shelf full of similar spheres, what made this sphere special though was that it was labeled with his name. Upon picking up the sphere Harry had been confronted by no less than twelve Death Eaters. While normally Harry would have been confident there were a few problems. While most Death Eaters were not all that good in a fair fight there were a handful that were more than competent fighters. Most of these had died, and at the end of the first war their had only been four confirmed living and a fifth unknown Death Eater that Harry suspected was Walden Macnair. The four confirmed ones were all sent to Azkaban, but they had all escaped earlier that year. Harry was sure that their superior numbers would have leveled the playing field against one or even two of these five, but Harry had not expected all five of them to be present.

Facing off against the three Lestranges, Antonin Dolohov, and Walden Macnair was not a proposition that Harry was inclined to consider so he signaled his invisible forces to open with a salvo of piercing hexes on his mark. As Harry canceled the disillusionment charms the Death Eaters found themselves facing not three but twenty-three wands. Harry's opening shot had caught Rabastan Lestrange between the eyes, killing him instantly while twenty-two other hexes left many of the Death Eaters bleeding on the floor. Harry had then immediately signaled a withdrawal while the Death Eaters regrouped. Unfortunately Harry, Hermione, Neville, Katie, and Luna had gotten separated from the rest of the group when a poorly aimed blasting hex had knocked over one of the shelving units, effectively blocking their path. Harry's orders for anyone separated from the group was to get out of the Ministry by any means available, and he could only hope that Susan would make sure everyone followed orders.

Harry was awoken from his musings by the sound of metal scraping on metal as someone forced their way through the door Hermione had sealed. Antonin Dolohov charged through the now open door and the moment he laid eyes on Harry he tried to call for his fellow Death Eaters for help before he was cut off by Hermione's silencing charm.

Knowing that the charm would only prevent Dolohov from calling for help, not from casting spells Harry immediately whipped his wand up before twisting and jabbing it at Dolohov and speaking "Rumpere". The nearly invisible aneurysm curse hit Dolohov in the chest before he collapsed with blood coming out of his eyes and nose from the three dozen burst blood vessels in his head.

When Harry had first discovered the aneurysm curse he had come to the conclusion that wizards in general, and dark wizards in specific, were not very bright. The aneurysm curse was just as lethal and irreversible as the killing curse, but it moved faster and was harder to see than the sickly green bolt of the killing curse, making it significantly harder to avoid. On top of that the curse wasn't even considered dark and was therefore a perfectly legal way of killing someone in a fight. For some reason though dark wizards seemed to get some weird thrill out of running around shouting "Avada Kedavra", like it somehow showed just how evil they were.

As the two remaining Lestranges came into view on the other side of the open doorway Harry and Hermione laid down covering fire allowing their friends to retreat through a different door. Once Neville signaled that everyone had cleared the room first Hermione and then Harry backed through the door without letting up their torrent of spells. Once that door was closed and sealed as well Harry pulled out his mirror and called Sirius.

"Hey pup, what's going on?" Sirius asked with a bit of concern.

"We might need a little backup down here, didn't expect to run into all three Lestranges here and I'd rather have even more overwhelming odds before I try to take them out." Harry replied.

"How many are there?" Sirius asked as he waved over someone from out of the line of sight of the mirror.

"There were twelve, but Rabastan Lestrange and Antonin Dolohov are both dead and at least three others took enough piercing hexes to stay down." Harry said as he watched Sirius whisper something to Remus Lupin, who immediately ran out of the image.

"Anybody on your side injured?"

"Not that I'm aware of, five of us got separated from everyone else, but that was before the Death Eaters really had a chance to return fire."

Remus came back into the frame "Harry, can you tell us where you are?" He asked, addressing Harry for the first time.

Harry looked away from the mirror to examine the room they were in "Yeah, it's a big open room, like an amphitheater. In the middle there's this giant stone arch."

"Alright Harry stay there, but keep away from that arch. We'll be there in two minutes." Lupin said as Sirius cut the connection.

Harry and his friends spread out to cover every door they could see into the room and waited for their backup to arrive. Suddenly two groups entered the room from opposite sides at the exact same moment, the Order of the Phoenix had arrived just in time to do battle with the surviving Death Eaters. The next few minutes were hectic as the battle raged on, Harry occasionally threw a spell to distract a Death Eater at a moment when concentration was most needed, but his primary concern was to get his friends together and keep them safe. As Harry got them all together he turned to see Bellatrix Lestrange fighting Sirius, Harry immediately sent another piercing hex at her, catching her in the left shoulder and throwing off her aim, causing her killing curse to go wide and impact harmlessly against a stone bench.

Bellatrix had clearly decided the fight was lost and threw a blasting hex at Sirius's feet to blow debris into his face before running for an exit. Neville immediately ran after the woman who had tortured his parents into insanity and Harry and Hermione took off after him to keep him from getting himself killed.

As they exited the lifts into the Atrium they were greeted by the sound of Neville screaming. There in front of them was Bellatrix holding Neville under the cruciatus curse. Hoping to get the insane witch's attention Harry threw a bludgeoning hex into her injured shoulder. This cut off Neville's screams and gave Hermione the opportunity to summon Neville to safety.

Bellatrix was insane, injured, and now royally pissed off, she didn't even bother speaking before she threw a cruciatus at Harry. Harry immediately side-stepped the curse and returned fire with a spell chain he had spent the last month and a half perfecting to the point where he could cast it without thinking.

"Expeliarmus, stupefy, difindo, incarcerus, bombarda, rumpere" The disarming, stunning, cutting, and binding spells splashed against Bellatrix's shield, just as Harry had designed them to do. The cannon blast charm that followed released a wave of energy roughly equivalent to a stick of dynamite that was all condensed into a circle one-foot in diameter. When the energy wave hit the hardened air of the shield charm it released all that energy as sound waves causing the entire shield to vibrate. The result of this was that the shield shattered while Bellatrix was hit with a wave of sound so intense it ruptured her eardrums and left her unable to hear the incantation of Harry's last spell. Without a shield, and unable to hear or see Harry's aneurysm curse Bellatrix was left completely defenseless and met the same fate as Dolohov.

Harry was quite pleased with the effectiveness of his spell chain for all of two seconds before pain lanced through his scar, signaling the arrival of Voldemort. "Hello Tom." Harry called out through the pain "Figures you'd be too much of a coward to show up until after the fighting is through."

"You dare call me by that worthless muggle name." A high pitch voice demanded.

"Yes I dare." Harry said looking around for Voldemort "What's the matter Tom, too afraid to show your face?" He taunted.

"Very well if you wish to die so badly I will gladly kill you." Voldemort said finally stepping out of the shadows.

"I think not Tom." Harry replied looking Voldemort right in the eyes "I have already slain three of your best this night, and I'm just getting warmed up. Fulminus." As Harry finished his threat a bolt of emerald lightning leaped from the tip of his wand and struck the dark lord. As Voldemort shook under the painful effects of the lightning hex Hermione entered the fight by throwing a quick combination of piercing cutting and bludgeoning hexes.

Just as Harry and Hermione had Voldemort on the ropes the fight was interrupted by the arrival of Albus Dumbledore. Dumbledore began talking to Voldemort moving around him and cutting off Harry and Hermione's ability to fire curses at Voldemort for fear of hitting the old man. Voldemort and Dumbledore then settled into a duel that was extremely flashy, but all things considered, not very dangerous. And then Voldemort made the biggest mistake of his life, he tried to use the connection between himself and Harry to possess Harry's body.

Harry immediately felt a surge of pain unlike anything he had ever felt as Voldemort taunted Dumbledore using Harry's voice, but then Harry looked up into Hermione's warm brown eyes and the pain stopped. It stopped completely, and through his scar he could sense that Voldemort was in agony, he could feel his terror, and when he felt the dark lord try to pull away from the connection, Harry held on. He refused to let the wizard who had caused him so much pain and torment escape this payback. For ten minutes he looked into Hermione's eyes as Voldemort was engulfed in an unending ocean of pure agony, until finally Voldemort's mind snapped. The connection immediately died and Harry collapsed into Hermione's arms while Voldemort lay on the floor, he wasn't dead, but he might as well be, his mind was gone and there would be no recovering from that.

Harry heard cheers and he looked around, he had been so focused on Hermione he hadn't even noticed the crowd that had gathered. Aurors moved to secure the fallen dark lord while the Minister of Magic looked sheepishly around at the people who were staring at incontrovertible proof that Fudge had been wrong about everything he had said for the last year.