A/N: This is the last chapter! Hopefully some of you are still with me.


There was so much blood. Hermione's broken fingers, grasping feebly at her injured side, were sticky with it. Most of it wasn't hers; her wound was internal. Her mouth tasted of iron, and when her lips parted to let a thin stream of air into her lungs, a trickle of blood ran down her chin.

The day was sticky with heat, and Hermione could hardly tell where blood stopped and sweat began. Their smells mingled with that of the lake mud coating everything, and the resulting stench would have made Hermione gag if she hadn't already been used to it.

Struggling to hold her wand in her left hand, Hermione raised her head and surveyed the battlefield. There was Ron, grinning wearily. There was Harry, standing tall with his wand still raised. The cheers for his miraculous resurrection and victory sounded somehow tinny in Hermione's ears. She looked her best friend up and down, trying to summon joy, but everything hurt.

She had never known there were so many types of pain. Needles in her fingers, spikes in her ribs, and hammer blows to her head. Most of the pain, though, was in her heart and mind. She couldn't turn her head without seeing another corpse, and even if she shut her eyes, Bellatrix Lestrange leered at her. The terror of that image should have died when she'd seen the monster fall, but it hadn't.

Harry had lowered his wand now, but he kept it out. None of the Death Eaters seemed overly inclined to challenge him-after all, he'd just come back to life before their eyes-but it was wise to be cautious. Hermione groped about on the ground around her for her wand, but she came up with one she'd never seen before.

It'd have to do. If Harry needed her, she could make this wand, or any wand, work. Still, this one felt...wrong. Hermione had a sneaking suspicion that she didn't want to know who its rightful owner was.

Oh, and wasn't that interesting. The sky was getting darker, and the world was caving in. Hermione tried to blink, but her eyes wouldn't open again. They had been sewn shut.


Harry was alive. Ron was alive. Fred was-no. She couldn't think about Fred.

Ginny scanned the field anxiously, counting friends. Everyone was accounted for but one, but one made all the difference.

Her stomach tightened. The last thing she'd said to Hermione had been that she'd never wanted to see the other girl again. And over what? A stupid spat. About summer vacation.

Ginny kept her eyes to the ground to avoid tripping over rocks and severed limbs. The carnage was unbelievable, and she focused on finding Hermione to keep from throwing up.

Despite her best efforts, Ginny's foot caught in the shredded remnants of a robe, and she stopped to pull herself free. She looked down at her ankle and gagged at the creature to which the fragile rags now bound her. Arms slashed to the bone, face ashen and slack.

Ginny tipped her foot viciously away from its entanglements and took a step back. Then she bit her lip, for there might have been something in that chest, a rising and falling. She knelt. Pulling the gory blouse back from the victim's neck, she felt for the jugular.

There was a pulse! Ginny shouted for assistance, marveling at how the girl clung to life. She bit her lip again, for even on the hazy battlefield, something gleamed. There was a pendant around the girl's neck.

Ginny's clumsy hands grasped at the heavy chain, and she pulled it up out of the clothes hiding it.

Glinting between her fingers was a small figurine of an otter. Someone had affixed a chain to the top with the apparent aim of wearing it as a good luck token, big and awkward as it was.

Harry ran up. "What is it?"

"She's alive," Ginny whispered, and held up the pearly charm. Harry's scream for a mediwizard was just part of the roaring in her ears. She could barely breathe. The world narrowed to Hermione's blood and Hermione's pallid skin.

The mediwizards came, and Hermione was borne away on high to the castle. Ginny stumbled over a fllen tree limb in her attempt to follow, and Harry caught her. She clutched at his cloak and muttered, "I have to be there. I have to be there when she...wakes up." Harry nodded, and Ginny let herself go limp in his arms.


He had done it. He had saved them all. So why did he feel like all there was was death around him? This war had killed so many.

Not Hermione, though. Not Ron, not Hermione, and not Ginny. Everything else was secondary. Harry shifted Ginny up, more securely into his hold, and set off toward Hogwarts. He had survived, and those who mattered most had survived, too.

They had survived. Now it was time for them to live.