An Unexpected End

Chapter Three:

The battle was over in the course of a couple of hours, and yet an eternity seemed to have passed. The castle was nearly destroyed and several friends were lost forever. Bodies of friends, family, loved-ones, acquaintances, students, and enemies all lay row by row on the former House Tables in the Great Hall. It was such a devastating scene that Hermione wanted to flee and never look back at Hogwarts again. Still, she bore it for Ron and for Ginny, whose brother Fred lay among the hallowed dead.

In such little time so much had happened. Voldermort had fallen and was finally disposed of for good. Professor Lupin and Tonks were dead. So was Fred. Each death, each friend gone, ached like a physical blow to Hermione's chest. Never in her life had she felt so drained. Hermione was no stranger to fighting for her own life, or to fighting for Harry's and Ron's for that matter, but fighting for all of her friends and loved ones was tiresome indeed. Still though, nothing had compared to watching a sobbing Hagrid carry Harry's limp body back toward the Great Hall. Harry hadn't really been dead then, but no one had been the wiser, and they knew Harry had truly died at Voldermort's hand. It was evident in the dark wizard's manner. It had felt so real and so disparaging until Harry had flipped himself out of Hagrid's arms. Even Hermione wasn't sure how Harry had managed to die and then… un-die. She supposed that a part, and only a part, of Harry had been killed by Voldermort's curse. It didn't matter now. Harry was safe beside her and looking mostly whole. She could ponder how it all worked out later.

Harry had painstakingly recounted every detail of the ordeal, including the contents of Professor Snape's memories. They had all been terribly wrong about him. As spiteful as the greasy git from the dungeons was, Hermione was certain they would not have succeeded without Snape and his nearly 20 years of constant risk. It was quite a hallowing thought.

Hermione sat in the Headmaster's office, grateful now more so than ever for the comfort of her two dearest friends. She struggled to find the words to share her sentiments with her friends, but words were not needed. Ron placed an arm around her shoulders, an unspoken promise of the coming change in their relationship. Harry, beneath the pain, the filth, and the exhaustion, beamed at the both of them. Despite everything, the relief was truly wonderful.

The three finished the sandwiches Kreature brought up for them and suddenly realized that they had no clue what to do next.

"Um," Ron supplied upon this collective realization. "I think I'll go back down to the Great Hall for Mum and George. Mum'll be frantic when she realizes I'm not there."

"Of course," Harry nodded his agreement, standing up and brushing the crumbs off his tattered and filthy robes. "I think I'll go too. Ginny's probably furious with me for taking off right now."

Hermione stared blankly at the two of them and remained seated.

"You coming, 'Mione?" Ron asked, holding out a hand to help her up.

Hermione didn't take it.

"Someone should go check on Professor Snape," she replied, as if this was obvious.

"I'd go, Hermione," Harry offered," but we've got to establish some sort of order here before nightfall, and I don't think anyone is in charge at the moment.

Hermione stood at last.

"I don't blame either of you. I just think it needs to be done. It's… not like he has any friends here, except maybe Professor McGonagall, that is, once we tell her the truth, but she's laid up in the Hospital Wing right now, so she-"

"Hermione, you're rambling," Ron interrupted.

At first Hermione looked shocked, as if she might say something cross to the red-head for interrupting her trail of thought, but instead she released a heavy sigh.

"Right. I guess it'd best be me then. I'll see you shortly, Ron, Harry."

Harry stopped her quickly by reaching out and placing a hand on her arm.

"Wait. How do we even know he's still, well, alive?"

Hermione swallowed hard. She hadn't thought of that. He made it to St. Mungo's alive, so he simply had to be alright, didn't he?

"I haven't gotten an owl," she speculated. "All the same, I'd best go check. The school's wards are completely down, aren't they?"

Harry nodded. "I think they were all broken in the fight."

Hermione didn't stay to hear any more. With a pop, she was gone.

Author's Note: I'm enjoying this fic so much. I hope you are too! I only got one review for the last chapter, but I realize it'll pick up with time. I'm so excited to take this fic and see where it will go! The next chapter should be up in a couple of days, providing I get a little free time from homework.