I Can't Stop Thinking Of You Wearing Sea Shells

Hermione Granger felt as if time had slowed to a near standstill. There, a short distance away stood the world's most dangerous creature, stealing the lives of innocent, men, women and children as he stood on the same stage where Albus Dumbledore's body rested. It was blasphemy at its highest level.

The beast had a feral grin as he snapped his wand at his next victim and that poisonous green spell shot out of the tip of the white wand like a bullet from a gun. Hermione could only look on in abject horror as this entity of evil stole life after life after life.

And then the beast's grin fell and he was suddenly flying, cartwheeling through the air after something electric blue had struck him in the center of his chest. Hermione's heart began to beat a rallying rhythm in her chest as she watched a very familiar head of unruly black hair leap up upon the stage, and jump over, following where Voldemort had fallen.

Everything sped up as a heavy hand landed on her shoulder and began to roughly haul her to her feet.

"Come on then." A gruff voice said.

"Get your hands off of me!" Lavender shouted. Hermione had forgotten her friend was with her. She spun about, and saw that it was a Death Eater. Another quick look around her, and Hermione saw that those who'd been rushing to the castle were being rounded up by those who'd stopped them from getting to safety.

"Oh, ain't you a pretty one." The Death Eater sneered, grabbing a fistful of Lavender's hair and tugging so her head was pulled back. Lavender shrieked and tried to kick out, but the robed man was quite large. He pulled her near and gave an audible sniff before continuing his disgusting prattle.

"I think I'll save you for meself. I think you'd taste quite good. But you little friend here is a bit to scrawny for my liking. Maybe one of the others will give her a go, eh?" He said giving Hermione a once over. He yanked on both of them, turning towards the castle.

Panic began to grip Hermione as she was yanked unceremoniously along. Yet, at the same time, something else began to bubble up within her, and as the Death Eater was trying to take her wand, Hermione began to scream bloody murder as she twisted in the bigger man's grip and lunged, bringing her knee up hard and fast nailing her assailant between the legs, and tearing her wand out of his hand before unleashing a powerful blasting hex that left the Death Eater without the lower half of his body.

Both girls stood there looking at what Hermione had done, both breathing heavily from their struggle.

"Holy shit." Lavender said as Hermione turned away, seething. Something inside of her snapped and she wanted only one thing now and that was to have every single Death Eater out of her school.

"Try to help anyone you can." She said, her voice low and dangerous. She turned back to look at the castle where around twenty Death Eaters were rounding up younger students.

"We start with them."

Hermione slipped off her robe to free up her arms and Lavender followed her example.

"Do whatever you have to do to do." Hermione spoke, pushing up her sleeves. "We're taking our school back."

"Bombarda!" Lavender shouted.

"Confringo!" Hermione shrieked.

Neville Longbottom had found a tactic that seemed to be working out well for him at the moment. By staying low, at least below the shoulder of everyone around him, Neville had managed to take out eight Death Eaters. Well, to be fair, the Auror's had taken them out, but he had dropped them thanks to some well-placed tripping and jelly legs jinxes. He was just thankful that there were still so many people around him that he was hardly noticeable.

However, Neville was probably the first to realize that the Death Eaters they had been fighting were not very skilled. Most of them seemed a bit confused that people were fighting back. They were clearly fodder so the truly dangerous Death Eaters were only now entering the grounds along with what Neville was certain were werewolves. Neville thanked whomever was watching over him that it was still daylight as he wasn't sure if it was a full moon.

Deciding to stick with his tactic, Neville swiveled seeking out a new target when he saw Harry backing up while waving his wand like a fencer, sending spells at his opponent. Neville's eyes went wide with shock when he saw it was none other than Lord Voldemort himself, and the Dark Lord appeared to have the upper hand. Neville decided that he had to help his friend, as no one else seemed to have noticed Harry was in trouble. That, and Hermione would never forgive him if he just let Harry get killed.

Rising to his feet, Neville began to move as quickly as he could towards where Harry was fighting. As he got closer to the stage he was knocked flat by someone. Neville scrambled to get up and found he'd been knocked down by someone who had lost their fight. The old man was staring blankly to the sky now, his eyes wide, his face a mask of determination. And then Neville heard the laugh.

It was high and obnoxiously girly. Neville looked up to see a pair of dark sunken eyes staring at him humorously, and he recoiled when he recognized the woman. She was sickeningly thin, with tangled black hair, and rotted teeth. Though she still had vestiges that told you that she had once been strikingly beautiful.

"You look familiar." She said in a high pitch, childish voice. "Have I tortured you before?"

Neville's blood turned to ice in his veins. He'd never seen this woman in person, but he knew her. He'd known of her his whole life. This was the woman who had killed his father, and tortured his mother into insanity. This was the woman who had robbed him of his family.

Bellatrix LeStrange.

"I don't know why, But I know that I know you." Bellatrix smiled malevolently.

"You killed my parents." Neville snarled, getting his feet and raising his wand. "I'm going to pay you back for what you did to them and me."

Bellatrix snickered and then her eyes went wide with realization.

Longbottom!" she snapped her fingers and pointed to Neville. "Now I remember. You do look like you father… Now that was a man. After I tortured him I rode him for nearly an hour. Your mother didn't seem to like it much. Kept screaming at me to stop. Well… when she wasn't screaming in agony anyway."

Neville's heart was pounding in his ears as he stared at this vile woman, hate flowing through his veins like acid. Bellatrix simply laughed at him, taunting him further.

"I wonder if you're as good as daddy." She said lustily, eyeing Neville like a delectable dessert. "I think I might have to see. This is too good to pass up. Gonna have to loosen you up a bit. Longbottom men are too noble for their own good, you know. But I think you might be able to scratch my itch young master."

Bellatrix flicked her wand, but Neville lunged to the left, avoid the spell and making Bellatrix chuckle with delight. Neville replied in kind with spell after spell, trying to drive this abomination back, but Bellatrix simply danced out of the way with all the grace of a trained dancer.

"You got power little mister, that's certain, but you've got no focus." Bellatrix taunted.

"But let's not rush this now. I don't want you to get to tired before I have my way with you."

She licked her lips suggestively, and Neville felt his stomach roll. He snapped his wand again and Bellatrix conjured a shield, laughing mockingly at her would be attacker. Neville tried several more times to hit the woman who had torn his life apart, only to have his spells batted away or reflected by her shield, all the while she cackled madly at him.

"Well, you certainly have balls, young master." Bellatrix smiled when Neville was huffing and puffing minutes later. He'd poured too much power into his spells in his attempt to take this animal down. Now he was tired, and he knew that she'd been toying with him. He'd fallen into her trap and he was so angry at himself.

"But I think we've wasted enough time with our dance, and I'm feeling randy." Bellatrix smiled almost lovingly. She snapped her wand up, and Neville was hit dead center in his chest by the Cruciatus curse. Writhing and squirming on the ground, Neville clenched his jaw shut refusing to scream.

"It's alright my love, I know it hurts. You don't have to prove your bravery to me. Just scream for me." Bellatrix said in a lusty whisper as if she was talking to a lover.

Neville's muscles spasmed and his every nerve ending begged for mercy, but Neville refused to scream. He tried to focus his mind on Lavender. He wanted to see her again. He wanted to kiss her and hold her, and find out if all the confusing emotions he had when he saw her meant something. He wanted to find out if he would fall in love with the beautiful blonde.

"Come on my sweet." Bellatrix continued. "Give me what I need. Ooh, you have such stamina! Oh I can't wait to have my way with you, dear Longbottom. Mummy would be so proud of you."

Neville gripped his wand tighter, his knuckles going ghostly white as his rage overtook him, even managing to dull the pain of the torture curse as he focused his mind on a single spell he had once read about in his father's journal. It had sounded truly horrific, and Neville had been haunted by what his father had written, but in this moment, he wanted nothing more than to give this harpy what she so richly deserved. Neville imagined himself raising his wand and justice surging from his core and leaping from his wand to strike this insane bitch in the face.

And that was exactly what happened.

A burst of deep crimson blasted from the tip of his wand and struck the cackling witch dead center in her face, sending her head over heels onto the ground. Bellatrix had no idea what she'd been hit with and at first thought the boy had had no energy left to actually perform whatever he'd been trying to do. But then she felt a strange sensation all over her head and face. She began to feel sweaty and tingly.

And then something fell in her eye. She reached up to wipe it away and a large strip pf flesh came away.

Another strip fell from the back of her head, taking hair along with it. There was strangely no pain, but more and more of her skin slid off her head leaving the muscle and blood behind. She was essentially having her head skinned.

Neville sat up, vision blurry, body feeling as if it were on fire and he bore witness to his handiwork. He gagged as the woman stared at the strips of what had been her face that now lay in bloody piles in her hands. She looked at the young man who had disfigured her and she swooned, her ruined face scrunching into a wicked smile.

"Oh you do know how to fire my furnace, Longbottom." Bellatrix cooed, her now bloody hand sliding up the bodice of her dress, and pinching her breast hard, tugging at it ruthlessly as she stared at Neville and advancing on him. "I'm going to make sure you're lucid when I have my way with you. You delicious little strumpet."

"I don't lay with trolls." Neville said coldly.

Bellatrix's eyes went wide and her mouth opened in a feral shriek as she brought her wand high and brought it down in a slash. Neville sidestepped the heated shockwave that likely would have burned him to ash judging from the heat, and whipped his own wand up as Bellatrix lunged for him. She glowed purple for a split second before falling to her knees and heaving up the contents of her stomach.

She continued to heave until her stomach had emptied, and then, blood began to come up. Her muscles locked and she began to shake violently as she continued to spew forth blood and chunks of her own innards.

Neville began backing away, dangerously close to becoming ill at the sight of his spell work. He'd only ever read about the innards expelling hex once, and it had been several years ago. It had always stuck with him as being a truly terrible curse to inflict on someone. Here was the proof. Bellatrix was vomiting up her insides into an ever expanding pool of blood and viscera.

The woman's eyes rolled into the back of her head as more and more of her guts came up and were expelled onto the ground until there was nothing left, and her now eviscerated corpse fell forward into her what remained of her own entrails.

Neville sighed, and stumbled onto his knees, and quickly looked away, trying to prevent himself from vomiting. He brought his eyes up and swore he saw Harry on his knees as the Dark Lord advanced on him, looking quite murderous. Taking a breath to steady himself, Neville made to get to his feet but just before he was about to go and try to help, he was hit in the back of the head and saw only black.

Sirius Black had killed nearly twenty Death Eaters, not that he was keeping track. After all, what would be the point? No one was going to be impressed by how well he did in battle, only that he did what had to be done. Still, he felt he needed to know how many of the Dark Lord's followers he took out in case it counted in the next realm. Perhaps James and Lily might be a bit more forgiving of him.

Somewhere during the fighting, Sirius had lost sight of his best friend. They had been together at the start, but now Sirius had no idea where his werewolf friend had gotten to.

While he was searching for Remus or Amelia, he caught sight of his godson locked in battle with Lord Voldemort himself, and from his vantage point, Sirius thought Harry was doing quite well. He was driving the Dark Lord back with some really amazing spell work. Sirius wondered if Harry was trying to get closer and make it a more physical fight.

Sirius had only just decided he should go to his godson's aid when he caught sight of a familiar looking wizard taking on two Death Eaters. Making a split decision, Sirius rushed to Remus' side.

"Care for a hand?" Sirius said as he conjured a shield to protect his friend from a side attack.

"Took your time. Did you and Amelia find a quiet spot and finally have at each other?" Remus asked, twisting his wand and striking one of the black robed man, before turning to face down his compatriot.

"You're reading too much into our flirtatious friendship." Sirius replied, as he shielded Remus from another oncoming spell.

"Right." Remus chuckled. "I think maybe you should admit to yourself that you fancy her, and you should man up, as the kids say. Besides, I think it's time you give up your devil may care lifestyle. It's time to settle down and have a few pups."

"You know you may be right.' Sirius sniggered as he traded spells with another Death Eater who come to aid his fellow. "I am a bit bored with all these parties, and late night trysts with masked one night stands. But I doubt Amelia would be open to settling down with a scoundrel…"

"Mongrel." Remus corrected.

"… Like me." Sirius finished just as he'd tripped up his current opponent, and severed both his hands. The man fell to his knees holding up two bloody stumps as Sirius rushed forward and kicked him directly in the face, knocking him out cold.

He turned and found Remus had also finished with his own foe.

"Maybe when we finish up here, you two should talk. I think you might find her a bit more receptive to the idea." Remus offered, breathing heavily.

"Alright, but you have to promise that you'll stop dancing around Tonks and give the woman a chance. She clearly has a thing for wolves, and I think if you just realized that your are worth something, that you could be happy too."

"Alright, alright." Remus said, shaking his head. "Then let's finish this, and go find our intended ladies, and…"

"Shag like rabbits." Sirius laughed as Remus rolled his eyes.

"Any sign of Harry?" Remus asked.

"I saw him just over there beyond the stage. He seemed to have things in hand. Though I can't see him now."

"We should head over to the Quidditch pitch. Looks like they could use a hand." Remus said nodding towards the stadium.

Ron Weasley had never considered himself to be brave. He'd accepted that he had been made a Gryffindor because his entire family had been sorted into the house of Lions. He had never done anything to even remotely be considered heroic.

Yet, when Death Eaters appeared on the Hogwarts grounds and began to kill those who'd come to say their farewells to the greatest wizard ever known, Ron was one of the first to retaliate.

He was not superbly skilled, nor was he all that powerful. But he was smart and he understood strategy quite well. It was a result from years of playing chess. And it was for that reason that Ron Weasley recognized what the Death Eaters were attempting to do. The problem seemed to be that they had not been expecting such strong resistance. Ron was no expert, but he was certain that the Aurors were expecting the Dark Lord's forces.


The youngest male Weasley turned to find his sister, Ginny, fighting hard against three Death Eaters. He was a little surprised that she was holding her own, though with six older brothers, he shouldn't have been. However, it was clear to Ron she was getting tired, and to his horror, Dean Thomas was crumpled on the ground next to her.

Ron practically leapt at the closest Death Eater, using the worst hex he could think of. His aim was true, but his power was lacking. The Death Eater stumbled under the bludgeoning hex, but remained upright, though clearly dazed.

"REALLY?" Ginny shouted in disappointment as she shielded herself from two jinxes. "Auntie Muriel could hit harder than that Ron!"

Ron grimaced, but knew his sister was right. The Death Eater he'd hit was regaining his sense, and Ron knew he had a very limited window of opportunity.


The Death Eater shouted in surprise as he was suddenly lifted by his ankle. His robes fell over his face, and Ron slashed his wand again. The robes began to enfold and wrap around Ron's foe as he fought against his traitorous clothing. Ron turned and brought his wand down in a cross-wise slash which fired a violently orange spell. The spell hit a second Death Eater causing him to start hopping up and down, and reaching for his back as hundreds of spider began to bite and crawl within his robes.

The last Death Eater now found himself between to rather irritable Weasleys, and didn't appear to like his chances.

"I remember that one.' Ginny said with a smile as the spider infested man, now screaming like a girl, ran off. "But that one was new."

Ron glanced at the man who was now trapped within his robes. He was not moving as frantically now, and Ron was sure he was suffocating.

"Seamus taught it to me. His cousin likes to use it on him, though he usually releases him pretty quickly after. I don't think I'm going to be letting that one out.' Ron chuckled darkly.

"You blood traitors are going to pay for you defia-AHHHHHH!"

Ginny flicked her wand and the Death Eater began tearing at his mask as very large fanged and winged bogeys erupted from his nostrils.

"You people are just rude." Ginny snapped. "Who the hell attacks a funeral?"

Ron shook his head, and slashed his wand, sending the Death Eater flying head over heels with his stunning spell.

"I think you might want to use something a little more powerful that stunners big brother. They're not stunning anyone." Ginny said, patting her brother's arm as she turned to check on Dean.

"Is he going to be ok?" Ron asked with concern for his friend.

"DO I LOOK LIKE A HEALER?" Ginny snapped, making Ron step back. Ginny turned back to examine Dean. "He's still breathing, but I don't know what he was hit with, or what it did. I need to get him to the castle." Ginny said firmly. Ron nodded. As Ginny pulled one of Dean's arms around her neck and lifted him as best as she could. Ron nodded and told her to stay right behind him.

They moved as quickly as Ginny could carrying Dean, while Ron kept the path clear. They had no resistance until he reached the castle where a number of Hogwarts students were battling a dwindling number of Death Eaters. To Ron's deep surprise, the students were being led by his ex-girlfriend, Lavender Brown, and Hermione Granger.

Ron told Ginny to wait, and he surged forward to lend a hand. The Death Eaters were holding off the students, but it was clear as Ron got nearer, they were becoming flustered. There was only six that he could see standing, though he leapt over at least three that had been dealt with. If he'd taken a look around, he would have seen another ten robed Death Eaters scattered around the school's entrance.

Hermione was like a woman possessed. Her eyes were wild as she practically danced, firing spells at the men preventing them from getting inside Hogwarts. Six years of repressed anger was being exorcized as she fought. Every prank. Every foul word, every single second of suffering she had endured was being unleashed against every masked Death Eater.

She had a serious wealth of spells to use, as she had spent so much time in the library over the years, and she was using every single on she could think of. Lavender had remained right at her side, backing her up, and with every enemy they took down, they inspired more students to join them.

Ron was awestruck as he witnessed first and second year students waving their wands and calling out spells. As he came up beside Hermione, two second years managed to bring down one Death Eater, which was finished off by a fourth year in a rather messy manner.

"Seems like you're doing alright up here." Ron stated as he slashed his own wand.

"Not in the mood for jokes right now Weasley." Hermione replied.

"Wasn't trying to make one. I came to help. We need to be able to get wounded people up here." Ron said.

"Well then let's finish these guys." Lavender said as she and Hermione sent twin piercing hexes at one Death Eater, who shrieked when one of them hit him right in the eye. Ron flipped the man up in the air, and grimaced when he fell back, snapping his neck rather loudly.

"Nice shot." Lavender said.

"That was a mistake. I meant to…"

"Then keep screwing up like that." Hermione snapped.

It was about that time the remaining four Death Eaters realized that holding the castle was a lost cause, especially seeing as more students, and a few adults were heading towards them, including Professor Flitwick. Two of them fired blasting curses at the ground to cover their escape, but Hermione managed to kill one of the four as they attempted to Flee. Professor Flitwick took out a second, and Ron and Lavender barely missed a third.

"Get inside." Hermione shouted to the younger students. "Grab anyone who's been hurt and get them inside."

Lavender directed some of the younger kids as Professor Flitwick approached Hermione.

"It looks as though you've handled yourself well." He said. Hermione gave a little nod, but didn't say anything. She was scanning the grounds in hopes of seeing if Harry was still alive.

"I saw him a few moments ago, Miss granger.' Flitwick said as he grasped her hand. "He was still alive, and from what I could tell, winning."

"Where did you see him?' Hermione asked.

"Hermione, no." Lavender said as she came up beside her friend. "I promised him I'd keep you safe. I promised Neville I would stay out of danger, and I already broke that promise.

"Lav, I have to know." Hermione turned to her friend, her iron mask of determination slipping a bit revealing her concern.

"Miss Granger, it would serve no purpose to wade back into that fray. I could use your help with the wounded." Flitwick tried.

"I'll take her." Ron said. Hermione turned to look at the redhead who'd been a thorn in her side for five years. Ron shrugged under her gaze, and shuffled a bit.

"I never apologized to you for all the… look, I was a huge idiot, and I was jealous that you were so smart, and I did everything I could to make you feel terrible. I was immature and… And I'm sorry." Ron said, his eyes on the ground.

"Wow." Ginny said, having finally managed to drag Dean, who was now conscious, up to the front of the school. "I never ever thought I'd see the day Ron would apologize to Hermione Granger.

"Thank you Ron." Hermione said softly. Ron held out his hand for Hermione, who took it firmly and shook it.

"Now let's go find your boyfriend." Ron said, and Hermione nodded.

"Hermione, you promised him you would stay out of trouble!" Lavender tried, jogging behind Hermione and Ron, who headed back towards where the battle had begun.

"I think he'll understand.' Hermione countered.

"He's going to be mad." Lavender added.

"I'll explain it to him, and if that doesn't work, I'll just have to fuck his brains out."

Lavender nearly fell flat on her face, while Ron tripped over himself and landed hard on his shoulder. Both stared at Hermione who was too busy scanning for any sign of her wayward boyfriend to pay them any mind.

"Did she just…" Ron looked to Lavender as he got to his feet again.

"It's got to be the stress." Lavender said to Ron before turning to her friend, who was scanning the battlefield for any sign of her soldier boyfriend. "Who are you and what have you done to Hermione Granger?" Lavender asked.

"I told you I wasn't in the mood for jokes." Hermione snapped.

"It wasn't a…" Lavender started when Ron shoved her aside, and knocked Hermione to the ground as a putrid looking yellow spell hit him in the back.

"RON!" Lavender shouted. Hermione sought the source of the spell and sent six blasting hexes in quick succession. Someone was sent flying in the air, and from Hermione's point of view… that person was missing large chunks of their anatomy.

"Ron?" Hermione said as she went to the redhead who was coughing up blood. His eyes were wide, and his breathing was coming in shallow rasps. Hermione reached out to lift his head, but Lavender grabbed her wrist and shook her head.

"It was a body boiling hex. It'll burn you if you touch him. Lavender held up her hand to show her friend the results. Her left palm was red and raw.

Both girls looked to the boy who was coughing and staring up into the sky.

"I-I'm s-s-sorry." He stammered. "I-I-I was a-a-a j-j-jerk."

"Don't talk Ron." Lavender said as tears began to fall from her eyes. Ron turned to look at her, though his eyes were unfocused.

"N-N-N-Neville's a g-g-good guy.' Ron stammered. "He'll t-t-treat you right. I-I-I was no g-g-good for you."

"Ron, please." Lavender squeaked. Her hand went to her mouth, and Hermione felt her chest tighten. She wanted to look away but she was frozen, and could only watch as Ron's life slipped away.

"Please just save your strength, we'll get you some help." Lavender said sobbing now.


Hermione opened her mouth, but her throat closed off. The only thing that managed to escape was a high pitch gurgle. Ron turned his head towards Hermione, and she could see his eyes had gone red, and looked as if they had been boiled. His skin was blistering, and a horrid smell was coming off the red head now.

"I-I-I was a p-p-prat …" Ron wheezed, and his back spasmed badly. He gave a strangled cry, and black tears spilled down his cheeks.

"Ron, It's alright." Hermione said suddenly. "I forgive you. We're going to be good friends, ok?' She said.

Ron gave a single nod and let out a long slow rattling breath. More tears leaked from his eyes. "I-'s l-l-like tha…"

Ron's eyes rolled into his head, and his body stiffened. He gurgled and coughed and a disgusting fluid that smelled of sulphur came out of his mouth. His back arched and he gave one last long low groan of pain before his body went limp and Ron Weasley died.

Lavender covered her mouth and began sobbing uncontrollably, while Hermione bowed her head, and let her tears fall. She and Ron had never been friends, but in the end, he had been sorry for how he had treated her all that time. He'd even sacrificed his own life to protect her. It was in that moment that she realized Ron Weasley was the bravest soul Hermione would ever know.

Sirius bent at the waist and sighed with exhaustion. He had never felt so exhausted in his life. He could no longer see out of his left eye which was throbbing in pain. Sirius was almost certain he'd lost it for good. His ribs ached with every breath, and his left arm was hanging lifeless at his side, though it was beginning to tingle, so perhaps there was a chance it could be saved.

Yet, he was still standing, still breathing, and more determined than ever to see the war ended. Harry's plan had worked, though not as well as the teen had wanted. The Death Eaters had been caught off guard, and they had inspired others to fight, however many of those people had run away after a little while, clearly not wishing to tempt fate.

Thinking of his Godson, Sirius started looking for Harry, to see if the boy needed help. Through the fighting, Sirius had spied Harry locked in combat with Voldemort, and holding his own well. There was some serious back and forth between the two, but Harry seemed to be giving as good as he was getting.

Sirius looked out over the battlefield and felt a small modicum of relief that the battle seemed to be waning. There was a lot of smoke in the air now, which made it hard to see, but he could not hear a lot of fighting anymore. He gave a worried sigh as he thought of Remus whom he'd lost track of in the last hour, and Amelia whom he hadn't seen since before the funeral. He could only pray they were still alive somewhere.

Sirius kick the corpse of Thorfin Rowle, who he had only moments ago finished off. Rowle had been the toughest opponent Sirius had met so far that day, though he was certain his dear cousin, Bellatrix Lestrange was likely still out there. But next to his cousin, Thorfin was arguably one of the most vicious of Voldemort's followers. The man had no pity, and no remorse, not to mention an extensive knowledge of the dark arts that seemed to be rivaled by only Voldemort himself. In the end, Sirius had to lower himself to using equally dark curses. It was the first, and last time he was glad to have come from a dark family.

Standing upright once again, Sirius began to move, looking for another opponent. He was beyond exhausted, and he could feel his reflexes getting more and more sluggish. But if he didn't fight… Sirius shook those dark thoughts from his mind.

As he moved forward he saw a group of bodies, all of them in black robes and masks, save one. Sirius stumbled over, and knelt beside the unmasked man with a long hooked nose, and sallow skin.

Snape's eyes were wide open, but there was no life in them, his typical superior sneer frozen upon his face forever.

Sirius took in the scene and guessed that Snape had killed at least five of his former fellows before he himself had been killed with the killing curse. Sirius was sure Snape had killed the five around him because one of Snape's favorite curses was the Sectumsempra curse. And without the counter curse, which precious few people knew, your enemy would bleed out in minutes. All five men were lying in huge pools of blood.

"I hope she'll forgive you." Sirius said, reaching down to shut Snape's eyes. "I hope she forgives all of us for what we did."

Sirius stood up, his body protesting, especially his ribs. He turned to walk away and saw two women staggering towards him. The shorter of the two began shouting for help and waving for him to assist her, while the taller of the two was leaning heavily on her companion. As they drew closer, a small ball of fear began to form in the pit of Sirius' stomach, and he ran as fast as he could towards the two ladies.

"AMELIA!" Sirius shouted as he got closer.

Amelia Bones stumbled, and she and her niece Susan, who had been helping her fell on the ground as Sirius approached. Sirius slid on his knees and gathered Amelia in his arms, looking into her face imploringly.

"She got hit with something purple." Susan said frantically as Sirius came rushing up. "I don't know what it was."

"Sirius." Amelia hissed in pain. "I've been so worried about you."

"I'm alright, and you're going to be alright, and we're going to go to that white beach we keep talking about." Sirius said quickly. Amelia gave him a soft smile and a musical laugh.

"I thought you wanted a buxom blonde?' Amelia said into his neck as he held her.

"No." Sirius shook his head. "I prefer more experienced redheads.' He joked. Amelia laughed and pulled up so she could kiss the old Marauder.

"Auntie?' Susan said, panic rising in her voice. Both Amelia and Sirius turned to see seven Death Eaters approaching. They were standing shoulder to shoulder, trying to appear more threatening they actually were two the two warriors, though Susan was definitely intimidated given how she was backing away.

"Stay back Susan." Amelia ordered, trying to get to her feet to fight.

"I'll handle this." Sirius said, trying to get in front of Amelia, who tried to shove him out of the way.

"It's very gallant of you, but I can take care of myself." Amelia said gruffly. Sirius shook his head.

"Amelia, you can barely stand, and this isn't really the time or place to have this discussion." Sirius snarled.

The Death Eaters began chuckling.

"Looky here, looks like we interrupted a lover's spat.' The leader of the group guffawed.

"We're not lovers." Amelia corrected. "And if he doesn't stop being so pigheaded, we're never going to be."

"I'm just trying to…"

But what Sirius was trying to do, Amelia never found out as all at once, the Death Eaters all began to shout out in pain as they all gripped their left forearm. All of them fell to their knees, grimacing, grunting, and crying out.

In fact, all around Hogwarts, every single Death Eaters stopped fighting to clutch their left arm in agony. The fighting stopped all at once as no Death Eater could raise a wand. The shouting began to reach a fever pitch and then fell silent as Death Eaters began to pass out from pain. This was followed by a shockwave of magic.

Sirius and Amelia turned at the sound of what could have been thunder and a cloud of dust rose up from near the forbidden forest.

"Harry?' Amelia asked softly. Sirius grimaced, and threw one of Amelia's arms over his shoulder as he began guiding her towards the cloud.

Neville Longbottom opened his eyes to find the sun blocked out by a thick choking cloud of dust. He sat up, his head throbbing, and he retched. Spitting out bile, Neville got shakily to his feet, and peered around wondering how long he'd been knocked out. He heard distant moans, and a few shouts or cries for help.

He took a few tentative steps and realized he had no idea where he was. He had to take a second to get his bearings and decide where he should go. He decided his best bet would be to get to the castle. Besides, he really needed to know that Lavender was alright.

He started for the castle, keeping his eyes open for anyone who might need his help, or any Death Eaters waiting to end his life.

"Mister Longbottom?" Someone said through the haze. Neville squinted as someone came closer. Neville gripped his wand a little tighter, ready to fight when Professor Sprout came into view. She was covered in dirt and had several scratches on her face. She was limping badly, and her hair was a tangled mess.

"Mister Longbottom, are you alright?" Professor Sprout asked. Neville sighed with relief and gave a nod.

"Did we win?" he asked.

"I honestly don't know." The Herbology teacher asked. "They just stopped fighting." She was looking away from him now very confused. "We're supposed to take anyone we find up to the castle. You should head up that way and have Madam Pomfrey look you over."

"Maybe I should help you look for anyone who really needs help." Neville countered and Professor Sprout gave a soft smile.

"To be honest, I think I would appreciate the company."

Neville nodded again, and joined his favorite teacher in looking for anyone else who was in need of help. They found several people who had been knocked out, but were otherwise ok, and two or three people with more serious injuries. Neville breathed several sighs of relief that he had not yet found Lavender. So long as he didn't find her, he held out hope she was still alive.

Eventually Neville and Professor Sprout came upon a young woman kneeling beside a body, crying softly.

"Hello?' Professor Sprout said tentatively. "Are you alright?"

"Professor Sprout? Is that you?"

"Lavender?" Neville asked, recognizing the voice of the girl.

"Neville?" Lavender asked, getting to her feet. She launched herself at her boyfriend and broke into fresh sobs at seeing her boyfriend alive. "I've been so worried about you." She cried.

Neville simple held onto the blonde, grateful to have found her alive and in one piece. Professor Sprout wiped at a few tears as she watched the young lovers reconnect.

"Perhaps you should take Miss brown up to the castle." She suggested. "I can manage on my own."

Neville nodded, and began to guide Lavender away.

"You were supposed to go to the castle." He said a few moments later, and Lavender gave a watery laugh. She then explained how she and Hermione had done just that, but how Death Eaters had cut them off, and the battle that had followed.

She then pulled up short and turned around.

"Neville, she ran off. We have to find her." Lavender said urgently.

"Did you see where she went?" he asked, looking for any sign of their brunette friend. The dust and smoke was clearing now, and Neville could see loads of unmoving bodies all around.

"She headed off towards Hagrid's and then there was that explosion. Neville, what if she's hurt, or…"

"We'll find her, Lav. We'll find her. Come on." Neville said firmly as they began making their way towards where the Hogwarts gamekeeper's hut had been.

Hermione had left Lavender by Ron's body and started looking for Harry. She'd come across Professor Sinistra trying to protect some students against a few Death Eaters. Hermione was able to lend a hand, and between herself and the professor, the Death Eaters were dealt with quickly before Professor Sinistra guided the young ones to the castle after Hermione told them it was the safest place at the moment.

A few minutes later, Hermione found herself surrounded by four Death Eaters. She could see a few bodies of young women behind the biggest one, who was putting his mask back on. The man on his right was readjusting his robes, and Hermione felt the urge to vomit as she imagine what these beasts had done.

Hermione brought her wand up, which drove the four men into fits of laughter.

"Well, well. We've got another fighter." The biggest man said.

"I like it when they fight." One of the two behind her said, sniffing loudly. Hermione fought down the shiver of disgust.

"You don't need to fight us luv." The biggest man said, taking a step closer. "You might even like it."


Hermione turned around and gasped. One of the Death Eaters was gripping his forearm. His left forearm.

"He's calling."


Again Hermione turned and found both Death Eaters in front of her gripping their forearms and falling onto their knees.

"It's burning! Why is it burning?"

"What's happening?

"It's spreading! Holy gods it's going up my arm! What the fuck is happening to me?"

Hermione began backing away from the four men as they were all tearing at their left arms. One of them managed to get his sleeve pulled up and Hermione saw that the Dark Mark looked as if was smeared. She could see veins in the man's arm turning black as some kind of poison was shooting up his arm, and it seemed to be coming from the Dark Mark.

There was a clap of thunder, and Hermione was thrown to the ground by a shockwave of energy. She heard trees cracking and falling. Rolling over and getting to her feet she saw a huge cloud of dust erupting and spreading.

"Harry.' She whispered, feeling tears beginning to sting her eyes before she sprinted towards the center of the explosion.

She was quickly emcompassed by choking, blinding dust, but she pressed on. She conjured a cloth to cover her mouth to keep as much of the dust out of her lungs as she called out for Harry. She suddenly noticed how quiet it had become. There was barely a sound now, and Hermione wondered if the battle had stopped.

Fifteen minutes later, the dust truly began to settle, and it was becoming easier to see. She made her way to the edge of the Forbidden Forest and she could see a few trees had been destroyed, and others had just been blown over. She followed the path of destruction for a short distance until she found herself on the edge of a small crater. Peering through the haze she saw a body lying in the center. Hermione approached, feeling her heart climbing into her throat. She knelt down so she could get a better look and felt a rush of relief that it wasn't Harry. What remained of this body was covered by tattered black robes. There was no skin on it. There was hardly any blood either. In fact, all that was left was a skeleton that was turning to dust before her very eyes.

Getting to her feet Hermione stepped away from the corpse and was about to resume her hunt for Harry when she heard a grunt from nearby. She turned and immediately began to feel tears leaking down her cheeks.

He was sitting on the ground, leaning against and upturned tree trunk, his head laying back and staring up at the sky. His black shirt was nearly gray from dirt, and torn in several places. He had blood all over, and his left leg was laying oddly.

"H-Harry?" Hermione asked tentatively.

Harry Potter lifted his head, and groaned with the effort.

"I swear I asked you to stay in the castle until I came for you." He muttered. Hermione let out a watery chuckle as she came to his side.

"Is that him?" She asked, motioning with her head at the crater.

"Yeah." Harry confirmed, staring blankly.

"So… it's over?" Hermione asked, trying to fight down the joy that was threatening to burst from her.

Harry gave a curt nod, and then turned to look at his girlfriend. He reached up and cupped her cheek, pulling her towards him, kissing her very gently, lingering there for a long moment, reveling in the softness of her lips.

"We should get you back to the castle. You look horrible." Hermione whispered when they broke the kiss. She leaned her forehead forward so it was touching his. Harry pulled her down so she was sitting next to him, and he took her hand in his, gripping it tightly.

"In a bit." He said with a deep sigh. "Let's just sit here for a minute. I'm really, really tired.

Hermione nodded, leaning her head on his shoulder, staring at their joined hands, and unable to stop the tears that fell. She knew that eventually she was going to have to deal with everything she had seen, and everything she had done, but for now, she decided to focus on the fact that she was alive. She was alive, and Harry was alive. They had survived, and she was once again proven correct about her theory that Fate was tired of making her suffer.

"So Neville told me once about these islands where the water is so blue that it's almost unbelievable, and we could drink out of coconuts." Harry started. "He also said that it was so warm that girls hardly wore any clothes at all, and I to be competely honest with you Hermione, I haven't been able to stop thinking about you wearing sea shells on your chest."

It started very softly, but in almost no time at all, both Harry and Hermione were doubled over in laughter.