^Fenrir's hopeless attempt at fanfiction.
'I've had enough trouble to last a lifetime,' Harry declares, and there was the faintest hint of a smile around his lips.
Hermione smiled, too. The past seven years of her life had brought her more trouble than she could've ever imagined – magic or no magic. 'I'll tell you one thing, defeating seriously Dark wizards gives you quite an appetite.'
Ron's stomach grumbled as she spoke; only making her point stronger. Harry laughed, and put his arms around his friends.
Hermione smiled; hearing Harry finally laugh, after all this time, was something that she found herself treasuring. 'There's someone I need to find first.' He left the room, whistling as he went.
Hermione cautiously approached Dumbledore's portrait. 'He won't be happy like this for long, will he?' She asked, watching the great man with half-moon spectacles.
Dumbledore shook his head. 'But you have fought with all you have – as has he, and there's nothing to regret.'
Hermione found herself disagreeing with Dumbledore's words. 'There's more than our share of regrets,' Hermione said, 'no matter which angle you approach it from.'
Dumbledore nodded. 'But other people's sacrifices are their own, and not his.'
'You and I both know that he won't see it that way.' Hermione muttered, not sure if the portrait could hear her.
'Hermione,' Ron mumbled, stepping closer, 'we should be getting on, finding Harry, that sort of thing.'
Hermione waved her hand away impatiently. 'Wait, Ron, there's something I need to ask.'
Ron held onto her shoulder. 'We have plenty of time later. But not right now.'
Hermione shook his hand off, 'Professor,' she began, before they were interrupted.
The door behind them opened, quietly, sliding along the carpet with a whisper of movement. Hermione turned, and found herself facing Professor McGonagall, who certainly looked worse for wear.
While everyone was covered in ash and blood, their hair tangled tumbleweeds; the deterioration of their Head of House seemed more significant. Something bad had taken place, and someone bad had threatened their school.
McGonagall softened her harsh expression into a half-smile when she saw Ron and Hermione. She looked over their shoulder at Dumbledore. 'You're being looked for,' she told the younger adults, motioning for them to leave.
Hermione and Ron hastened to leave. Hermione glanced back at the last second, and saw McGonagall's fingertips on the edge of Dumbledore's gilted frame. What she was thinking was impossible, knowing what she did about Dumbledore, but the possibility of McGonagall seeking help and becoming the role model she saw in Dumbledore made her wonder if the two were simply Professors. As Deputy, McGonagall had to have a stronger connection with the Headmaster than other teachers.
Ron took Hermione's hand and began to pull her along, because, although her mind was whirring, her steps were slow.
They reached the bottom of the marble staircase and looked around themselves.
They were both silent for some time. 'It's unrecognizable,' Hermione voiced. 'This isn't our school, is it?'
Ron put an arm around her shoulders. She leant her head into him. She took a deep, shaky breath and pulled away. 'Right.' Hermione said, 'the Great Hall.'
As they walked, they took in the scene surrounding them. 'It's terrible,' Ron commented at one point, drawing her eyes to him.
She was silent for the smallest moment. 'You've got dirt on your nose,' she whispered, 'right there.' She put her thumb on his face and wiped at his nose, slowly removing the dirt.
Ron grinned and held onto her elbows. 'So do you,' he muttered.
Hermione bent her head forward and escaped his piercing stare. She couldn't help the smile that crept onto her face. She bit her lip and looked away from him, forcibly removing his hands from her by backing away.
She continued forward, reaching the Great Hall eventually. The scene that she entered was absolutely horrific. Bodies of the fallen lay everywhere, blood and ash, dirt and grime completely covering each and every person the Hall contained.
Hermione heard Ron gasp involuntarily, and she put her hand on his shoulder. She couldn't restrain him, however, when he ran to his family, leaving her stranded.
She looked around for Harry, planning on telling him how well he'd done against Tom Riddle. She found him, standing by Ron's family. She presumed that he'd found who he'd been looking for.
His arms were wrapped around Ginny. She could tell from here that neither of them were hardly breathing, that they were almost delirious with the joy of finding the other perfectly okay.
She approached them slowly, wondering how she'd thought that Harry didn't care for Ginny as much as Ginny for him.
As she got nearer, she could see the tears in Harry's eyes, threatening to fall. She slowed her steps even more, trying to be a little louder. 'Hey,' she said as she drew nearer.
They pulled away, looking a little guilty. 'Hey Hermione,' Ginny murmured, stepping even further back.
Harry stepped forward when she stepped back, not allowing her to distance herself. Hermione looked at her feet, then back up when she saw she was standing on the outskirts of a pool of blood. 'Did you find what you were looking for?' Hermione asked him, eyes flickering to Ginny.
Harry nodded. 'Thank Merlin.'
Hermione smiled. They lapsed into silence. 'I wonder what will happen now,' Ginny murmured, gesturing around them.
'Someone's got to clean it, I suppose.' Ron said, drawing closer as he spoke. This time, Harry let Ginny step away from him.
Hermione felt Ron's arm snake around her waist. 'Fred's… dead,' he whispered into her ear. 'And Percy's back. For good, apparently.'
'Don't go near Mum for a while,' Ginny added. 'This is worse than he left. She'll carry on for weeks.' Suddenly, she reached out, as if to grab Ron. 'You'll never guess what Mum did,' she said, her voice peaking in excitement. Then she looked around her and the smile dropped off.
'What?' Ron asked, obviously curious.
Ginny frowned slightly, touching her matted red hair absently. 'Don't worry,' she said, shaking her head.
'No, tell me,' Ron said, trying to overpower his little sister once more.
Ginny shook her head. 'No, Ronald. I can't tell you, not here. It doesn't feel right.'
Harry was looking at her oddly. 'I was under the Cloak, you know,' he said softly, 'when I saw it. I was going to throw that Cloak off and take her myself, when your Mum stepped in. I wasn't needed.' They both blushed, and Hermione wondered what they were talking about.
There was a scuffling of footsteps behind her, and Hermione turned to face the new comer. With a face so stricken it likened to death, George stood silently beside them. He didn't make eye contact, he didn't talk – he simply tried to look like he was involved in life.
It was clear that he was involved in a whole lot of death.
There was a hushed silence that fell over them.
Ron was the one to break it. 'This place will take a lot of cleaning up,' he finally said, a terrible attempt at breaking the ice that had quickly frozen over them all.
'Most of it will take Muggle methods,' Hermione told them, 'as you can't fix what curses have destroyed.'
They all look up at George – and his missing ear – and quickly avert their gazes again.
'Look, there's Luna,' Ginny says, leaving them presently. 'Luna!' She called to the blonde waif.
Hermione turned to her two best friends. 'So, how boring are our lives gonna be now?' Ron joked, breaking the ice yet again.
Harry smiled, watching Ginny's back. 'I'm sure we'll find a way to get into trouble. Or trouble will find us, more accurately.'
Hermione put her hand over Ron's, which was still on her hip. 'We will find our way in life. I'm sure that's bound to be enough trouble.'
The boys smiled at her, and George left them. He sat on an empty bench and let the world continue without him.
Luna tripped over to them. 'Hi, Harry,' she said, her voice already vague. She sported a large cut to her forehead. It wasn't bleeding, but magic hadn't healed it.
'Luna,' Harry acknowledged her, but was then lost again as Ginny approached and took his hand in hers.
Luna looked up at the ceiling. It was no longer enchanted. The enchantment must have been broken by a rebounding curse. Luna smiled to herself, but didn't speak.
Ron looked at her, clearly expecting an outburst about some new, ridiculous creature.
'I guess,' Luna began, causing Ron to roll his eyes and Ginny to lean closer, 'That Fudge was right to be scared of Dumbledore,' she looked around at them, grey eyes wide. 'Our army put up a decent fight.'
'Dumbledore's Army,' Ginny murmured. 'Without it, we wouldn't be here.'
Hermione smiled. 'It was one of my better organisations.' She said softly, thinking back to her S.P.E.W days.
'It was Harry's organisation.' Luna said simply, walking away.
'She's never been able to tolerate me,' Hermione said, shaking her head.
'I've never been able to stomach her,' Ron said in a low voice, almost menacing.
'Really?' Hermione teased. 'Ron? Not able to stomach something? There must be a first for everything!' They smiled softly at one another, and looked away, both blushing a bright red. Hermione pulled away from his embrace.
Hermione realised that Harry wasn't participating much in their conversations, but she decided that it was okay. After everything he'd just done, Hermione reasoned, a little private time in your own head would be well-deserved.
Hermione pivoted to watch the rest of the Weasley family. Like George, they weren't saying much, just kneeling over Fred's body with dumbfounded expressions, groping at his clothes like he'd wake up if they did.
Harry followed Hermione's eyes. 'What about Teddy?' He asked her, and his voice was quite hoarse.
Teddy Lupin, Remus' child. Harry's godson. 'Well, he's all Andromeda's got, isn't he?' She reached forward and put a hand on his arm, watching Ginny step further away from Harry out the corner of her eye. 'I think that we should let everything settle before you go barging off.'
'But Hermione, how many people are left homeless and parentless because of what we've done?' Harry's eyes were bright and agitated, a little tight around the edges.
'You're not the one to blame. We haven't done any of this. You can't be everyone's father, Harry.'
Harry didn't look convinced.
'Look. This war wasn't about you. You might be The Chosen One and all, but to us, this was about trying to keep our world at peace.' Hermione turned with that, and walked away. She planned on going to the toilet, but she was intercepted by a breathless Ginny.
'Can…? That was harsh. You just jumped down his throat and devoured his heart.' She had a slight smile on her face though.
'You know how he tends to be, thinking it's all about him.' Hermione rolled her eyes and grinned, knowing that Ginny knew exactly what she was referring to.
'He feels responsible, I guess. I would, too. If I hadn't died and the world's most evil wizard came back and tried to murder everyone I loved but because he couldn't murder me as a baby, I think I'd feel pretty responsible for anyone who got injured at all in my life.' Ginny put her hand over her mouth like she'd said too much.
There was a pause, and they passed through the once-doors of the Great Hall. 'Who do you think will clean this up?'
Hermione surveyed the debris and devastation that her school. 'No doubt they'll open a committee, with operation 'Clean Up Hogwarts'.'
Ginny trailed her fingers over the golden frames that the doors used to sit on. 'Do you think my mum will join?'
Hermione looked over her shoulder at Mrs. Weasley. 'I don't know. She's never lost a child before. She might take it harder than even she thinks.'
'She's come close many times, though.' Ginny murmured. Ginny, lost in the Chamber, her soul possessed by Riddle's Horcrux. Ron, poisoned by the mead meant for Dumbledore. Ron, fighting in the Chamber, Ron fighting for the Stone, Ron trying to save his rat, Ron and Ginny, risking their lives in the Ministry when their father could not. Ron and Ginny, fighting against the forces that tried, and failed, to penetrate and ruin their school. Ron and Ginny, Fred and George, Bill and Charlie, and even Percy, fighting against the most evil group of witches and wizards that ever lived – Death Eaters.
Hermione paused, before saying, 'Well, yeah, but this time it's real. Your brother's really dead, Ginny. He's not coming back.'
Hermione watched Ginny's shoulders slump. 'He could,' Ginny murmured, clearly not intending Hermione to hear.
'He's not,' Hermione whispered, taking a step back – keeping space between them lest Ginny should fly into one of her scarlet rages – 'Like we tried to tell Harry about Sirius, he's never coming back.' Hermione turned, intending to leave Ginny and the conversation behind.
'You bitch!' Ginny suddenly screamed, pouncing on Hermione.
Hermione could not have anticipated it if she tried. Her back had been turned, and she was defenceless against Ginny's fingernails. She was almost petrified with shock as Ginny relentlessly thrashed at her, screaming profanities no doubt learnt from her now-deceased brother. 'You horrible cow,' Ginny was crying, 'You have no right to talk like that! None at all, you, you witch!' Hermione put her hands up to cover her face, wondering what she'd said to make Ginny snap. Hermione knew that Ginny did not mean the literal meaning of the word 'witch', but the sarcastic, spiteful meaning.
Hermione felt Ginny's tears slip off the younger redhead's chin and onto her own face and fingers. She felt the pressure of Ginny's knees in her ribs be released as Ginny was lifted off of her, still thrashing, by Ron and Harry. They dragged her over debris and around the corner. Ginny's yells turned to whimpers, her whimpers into whispers of harsh profanities. No doubt she'd stopped crying already and was rearing to rip Hermione to pieces with dry eyes.
Ron came back around and offered his hand to her. Hermione sheepishly took it and stood. 'Are you okay?' Ron asked, not letting go of her hand.
Hermione nodded, 'I hit my head on the way down,' she said, probing the now-tender spot with two fingers.
'Your face is pretty scratched up,' Ron commented.
Hermione shrugged. 'I guess that's what you get when you upset Ginny Weasley,' she joked, fingering her face with her free hand. There were a few cuts and indents, but from what she could feel, only two scratches were actually bleeding – and one wasn't even Ginny at all. 'She didn't do much harm, though.'
Ron smiled, 'Wait until tomorrow; you'll be black and blue from the waist up.' He spoke like he had experience in the matter, which didn't surprise Hermione much at all. It's not that Ginny was spoilt; she knew just how hard her father had to work to give them what little they had, but she generally got people to do what she wanted. When she was upset, she wasn't one to sit and cry in the corner – she wanted action and justice, and she wouldn't be Ginny Weasley if she didn't get it.
Ron trailed a finger across Hermione's face, sending a shiver down her spine, and making her step back. His finger came back with a line of blood across it. 'It's alright; I just wanted to stop the blood.'
Hermione smiled and turned away, before realising she was casting her eyes across the devastation of the Great Hall. Despite the war having only just ended, many of the remaining Order – or the Order's side, at least – was comforting and helping to heal wounds of the Dark wizards. These wizards weren't conscious. Of course, the death of their leader did little to prevent the force of the Dark wizards, but over a period of time, it would wear them, and their enthusiasm down. Having the Hogwarts house elves on their Order's side meant that, even as Hermione watched, food and medical supplies rose, seemingly out of window sills, to feed and heal the wounded.
Madame Pomfrey bustled around, aiding as many people as she could, looking out of place and positively gleaming among the wounded and bloodied. She was a little worse-for-wear – no doubt the battle had required her assistance as well, but she was considerably better than most others surrounding her.